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APSA 2011: FIAPF award for Zhang Yimou

The director of China`s entry for the Foreign Language Oscar The Flowers of War will receive the International Federation of Film Producers Associations award at this year`s Asia Pacific Screen Awards.

The Flowers of War

The Flowers of War

Having shifted from having his early films banned in China (despite being officially submitted as Foreign Language Oscar entries) to more mainstream fare in more recent years, his current Oscar submission marks another first for a Chinese-funded film, featuring a Western lead, played by Christian Bale. It also marks a shift in government policy towards the telling of history, as the subject matter (Chinese sex workers volunteering to replace university students as escorts for invading Japanese soldiers) has been previously banned.

Flowers opens in December, with US rights already sold.

Internationally, his early work Red Sorghum (1987) won the Best Film Golden Bear the 1988 Berlinale. Ju Dou (1990) was China’s first Academy Awards nomination in the Best Foreign Film category. He repeated the nomination with Raise the Red Lantern the following year.

Despite missing out the subtitles Oscar, he`s twice won the BAFTA equivalent, for Raise the Red Lantern (1991) and To Live (1994). In 2004 he was nominated a third time for House of Flying Daggers.

As his career developed, he moved on to less arthouse fare, making more populist films with well-known actors including Hero (Jet Li), The House of Flying Daggers (Andy Lau) and Curse of the Golden Flower (Chow Yun-Fat). Two years ago, he remade the Coen Brothers` Blood Simple as a less black comedy, A Woman, A Gun and a Noodle Shop.

A year before that he produced the much-criticised opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics.

Now 60, he`s beginning to pick up achievement awards as regularly as awards for individual titles and has collected a half dozen from international festivals in the last three years. Last year he was presented with the Outstanding Contribution to Asian Cinema award at Hong Kong`s Asian Film Awards.

The APSAs run on 24 November on the Gold Coast. 37 films from 19 countries and areas are nominated in the competitive awards, with one further Jury award to be announced, the UNESCO Awardfor outstanding contribution to the promotion and preservation of cultural diversity through film. The awards ceremony will be webcast live.

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