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Chinese actors win top awards at Berlin festival

By Chen Meiling | China Daily | Updated: 2019-02-18 09:26

Actress Yong Mei (left) and actor Wang Jingchun (right) celebrate with director Wang Xiaoshuai after they won Silver Bears for best actress and best actor at the 69th Berlin International Film Festival on Saturday. Ekaterina Chesnokova / Sputnik

Wang Jingchun and Yong Mei won Silver Bear awards as best actor and best actress for the Chinese movie So Long, My Son at the 69th Berlin International Film Festival on Saturday. It was the first time both awards had been given to Chinese actors.

The film provides a close-up perspective on some of the most controversial topics in China, such as family planning policy and layoffs of factory workers, and tells the stories of grassroots Chinese families over the past 30 years. The movie has aroused the interest of critics and moved some viewers to tears.

Wang and Yong portrayed parents whose only son drowned accidentally in a reservoir. The mother was unable to give birth to another child after an abortion a few years earlier. They also had to deal with difficulties such as layoffs, relocation and a rebellious adopted son.

The three-hour-long film premiered at the festival on Thursday. One Western viewer interviewed by Sina Entertainment said, "It's a good film. It's a little bit long. But it's interesting to see how Chinese families were living in the 1980s or 1990s. We don't know a lot about it in Germany."

Another interviewee said she was impressed by Yong's portrayal of the emotions expressed by the mother in the movie.

A commenter called He Xiaoqin on Douban, a popular Chinese film and TV critic site, said the movie "reveals how ordinary Chinese people face up to tragedies in their lives with a strong will and a restrained attitude".

The film's director, Wang Xiaoshuai, said the main characters, though stricken by tragedy, always show kindness, inclusiveness and understanding for others. That is what he wanted to show, he said at a news conference at the festival.

Wang Xiaoshuai was born in 1966 and has experienced frequent changes since his childhood.

"People born in my generation got to see the changes in the country. As a director, I feel lucky to get the chance to depict what the Chinese people have experienced.

"Society is developing. Problems need to be solved during that development. Looking back to the past helps avoid making the same mistakes in the future," he added.

German broadcaster Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg said Wang Xiaoshuai presented a brilliant, moving, well-organized and technically advanced film.

The best actor winner, Wang Jingchun, told Sina Entertainment that he thinks the film will do well in China because it will strike a chord with many people.

Yong said she didn't expect to win the best actress award. In an interview with a Chinese talk show, she said she has no children herself, so it was difficult for her to play the role of a mother who had lost her child. "I've talked for hours with parents who have lost their children in real life. I can feel the pain they feel," she said.

Synonyms, coproduced by France, Israel and Germany, won the Golden Bear for best film. German director Angela Schanelec won for best director for her film I Was At Home, But ... .

A total of 23 films were selected for this year's competition, among which 16 competed for Golden Bear or Silver Bears. A jury led by French actress and Academy Award winner Juliette Binoche had the final say on the winners.

The festival ran from Feb 7 to Sunday.

Xinhua contributed to the story.

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