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PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2003 12:04 am    Post subject: Asian films rock Cannes - May 23, 2000

The Straits Times (Singapore)

May 23, 2000

SECTION: Life; (Life! Cover Story); Pg. 1,L6

LENGTH: 856 words

HEADLINE: Asian films rock Cannes

It sweeps major awards including Best Actor

Films from Asia had an unprecedented triumph at the Cannes Film Festival on Sunday, with China, Taiwan, Hongkong and Iran winning the bulk of the awards. Among the wins: Tony Leung Chiu Wai snatched the Best Actor award for Wong Kar Wai's In The Mood For Love.

Cover story PAGES 6 and 7


With three major awards in the bag, it was an unprecedented victory for Asian film-makers and actors at the Cannes Film Festival on Sunday

ASIAN films scored an unprecedented triumph at the Cannes Film Festival on Sunday, with China, Taiwan, Hongkong and Iran sweeping the bulk of the awards.

Three of the major awards -- for runner-up to the Golden Palm, Best Director and Best Actor -- were clinched by the Chinese, Hongkong and Taiwanese.

And, as a country, Iran emerged as the big winner, with three prizes.

Cannes 2000 saw the highest participation by Asians ever, with six out of the 23 competing films submitted by Asians.

A 10-member jury headed by French director Luc Besson awarded Danish director Lars von Trier's harrowing melodrama, Dancer In The Dark, the prestigious Golden Palm for Best Movie.

Von Trier, who has seen the Palm slip through his fingers twice before, raised his fist in the air as he accepted the prize from French icon Catherine Deneuve.

The film, von Trier's first musical, had divided critics at Cannes, but the entry had caused the most excitement at the 12-day festival.

Icelandic pop singer Bjork scooped up the Best Actress award for her performance in von Trier's film as a Czech immigrant who saves her paltry factory wages to pay for an operation for her son who suffers the same disease as her.

She astounded the festival crowd later by saying that her acting career was over as soon as it had started.

"I knew when I said yes that this would be my first and last role," she said at a news conference.

"After three months of shooting, I was feeling like a fish out of water -- it was too much in the world of words and not enough in the world of music."

The second-place Grand Prize went to Chinese director Jiang Wen's Devils On The Doorstep (Guizi Lai Le), a black-and-white comedy-turned-tragedy set in Japanese-occupied China.

It is about a Chinese villager who is saddled with hiding two prisoners and the bloody slaughter that results when he returns them to the Imperial Army.

It had astonished festival-goers with its comic tale of deep-seated distrust and incomprehension between China and Japan.

Edward Yang from Taiwan won the Best Director award for his poignant film, A One And A Two (Yi Yi), about a Taipei businessman's mid-life malaise and the problematic lives of his family members.

The Best Actor award went to Hongkong's Tony Leung Chiu Wai for his role in In The Mood For Love (Hua Yang Nian Hua), a 1960s romance directed by Hongkong director Wong Kar Wai, whose film also won the Technical Prize for cinematography and editing. Leung and Hongkong actress Maggie Cheung star as lovers in the film.

Among the Iranians, Samira Makhmalbaf's Blackboards shared the Jury Prize with Swedish director Roy Andersson's Songs From The Second Floor.

Makhmalbaf, 20, daughter of the veteran Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf and the youngest director ever to have competed at Cannes, choked with emotion as she thanked the jurors for her award.

Wearing her black Islamic headscarf, she dedicated her award "to the heroic actions of the younger generation which is fighting for democracy in our country".

Two other Iranian directors shared the Golden Camera award for their first films -- Hassan Yektapanah for Djomeh and Bahman Ghobadi for The Time For Drunken Horses.

Even the Golden Palm for Best Short Film headed east.

It was won by Filipino Raymond Red for Anino.

Japan, ignored by the jury, nonetheless, added to the Asian trophy tally with two awards for Aoyama Shinji's Eureka, the International Critics prize and the Ecumenical prize. It was praised for its "great formal beauty" and "universal values".

Adding to the Asian victories, Taiwan-born director Lee Ang's gongfu film, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, had won rave reviews at Cannes. The movie, starring Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh, was shown out of competition.

Other awards include that of a special mention for acting for the cast of Pavel Lounguine's The Wedding, a heart-warming film set amid the poverty and alcoholism of rural Russia.

The United States' only award -- for Best Screenplay -- went to Nurse Betty by US director Neil LaBute.

The hilarious comedy stars Renee Zellweger as a coffeeshop waitress obsessed with a daily soap opera. The star-studded Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her, featuring Glenn Close, Cameron Diaz, Holly Hunter, and Calista Flockhart, won at the separate "Un Certain Regard" competition.

Cannes 2000 also saw the first-ever Korean film in competition, which, however, did not win. Korean director Im Kwon Taek's Chunhyang blends the traditional operatic Pansoori, the Korean art of story-telling, with a popular folk tale. -- Reuters/AP/AFP.
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