One of the most renowned film directors in China, Mr. Zhang Yimou, is also a recognized master in international cinema. He has consistently depicted the hardships of life in contemporary China from the perspective of the peasant and citizen.
Mr. Zhang was born in Xian City in 1950. Caught up in the Cultural Revolution in 1968, he labored in an agricultural village and a factory for 10 years. He was admitted to the Beijing Film Academy to study cinematography after it reopened in 1978 with the end of the Cultural Revolution. Mr. Zhang and his classmates at the Academy shared a zeal for revolutionizing Chinese cinema based on their experiences during the Cultural Revolution. Starting from the mid-80s, this force changed the course of Chinese film. Mr. Zhang's first work as a cameraman was on the film "One and Eight", known as a work during the early period of this revolution in Chinese film. He also served as the cinematographer of "Yellow Earth". These innovative works brought a powerful visual beauty to Chinese film, which until then had over-emphasized ideological narratives.
A man of many talents, Mr. Zhang displayed yet another by acting in "The Old Well" in 1986, winning the award for best male actor in the Tokyo International Film Festival. He made his mark as a director the following year with the film "Red Sorghum". This film was awarded the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival, focusing the world's attention on Chinese cinema. "Red Sorghum" is a story of the Chinese peasants' resistance to Japanese occupation. It features a splendid ensemble performance, a vivid sense of color, the directness of a folk tale, and an easy-going narrative style.
Mr. Zhang followed this with "Ju Dou", "Raise The Red Lantern", and other works imbued with visual beauty and a critical eye towards convention and society. His series of films that have garnered awards at numerous international film festivals, including "The Story of Qiu Ju", "Not One Less", and "The Road Home", are superb depictions of the everyday life of the Chinese people from the period of the Cultural Revolution to the present. He portrays characters that continue to work hard even during difficult times without becoming discouraged. The depth and richness of the feelings of joy and sorrow unfailingly elicit sympathetic reactions from the viewers.
Thus, Mr. Zhang has been the primary force behind the major transformation and advances in Chinese film from the 1980s to the present. These works are not merely superior Chinese films--they are among the most important films of their time in the world. Mr. Zhang Yimou with this outstanding accomplishment is indeed a worthy laureate of the Grand Prize of the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prizes.