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Life of Pi wins Best Cinematography, Special Visual Effects at BAFTAs

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-02-11 10:09

Life of Pi wins Best Cinematography, Special Visual Effects at BAFTAs
Ang Lee celebrates as he collects the award on behalf of Claudio Miranda after winning the Cinematography award for "Life of Pi" at the British Academy of Film and Arts (BAFTA) awards ceremony at the Royal Opera House in London February 10, 2013. [Photo by Reuters]

LONDON -- The movie "Life of Pi" by Chinese director Li An, known to Western audiences as Ang Lee, won the Best Cinematography and Special Visual Effects at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Film Awards.

Li told Xinhua, "This is the hardest movie I have made. I am very proud of how the movie was praised everywhere in the world, particularly in China. It is a great feeling to be here. It has been a privilege to make this movie. Everything else is a bonus."

Li outlined why he chose to film a modern novel, "Life of Pi" written in 2001 by Yann Martel, which was both fantastical and almost impossible to film.

The book is about a teenage Indian boy who finds himself trapped in a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean with a tiger called Richard Parker.

Li said, "It is a philosophical book, which seems impossible to translate to an expensive looking movie."

It was this quality of difficulty which caught Li's imagination. "Impossibilities took me, the challenge of it, that made it very interesting," said Li.

He added, "Most of all, I just could not stop thinking about it; I was hounded by the book and I had to do it, and I feel privileged to have got the money to put it on, so many people took a leap of faith with me.  It felt like a mission."

"Life of Pi" was hailed by another leading director as a novel and intensely interesting film, which opened up new possibilities.

Xinhua spoke to one of Britain's leading directors, Sir Alan Parker, director of hit movies like "Evita", "Bugsy Malone", and "Mississippi Burning" about his opinion of "Life of Pi."

Parker revealed that Li was his favorite director, "Li An's movie "Life of Pi" is my favorite movie of the year. I am a great admirer of Li An; I think he is the most wonderful director, in fact he is my favorite director working today."

Parker added, "I think "Life of Pi" was the most wonderful film of the year. Whether it will win or not, I do not know, because there are so many very good films this year and it's not everybody's taste, and it is not unbelievably perfect, but it certainly was my favorite."

In the awards ceremony "Life of Pi" did not win best film, or best director for Li, but it did win the Best Cinematography and Special Visual Effects BAFTAs.

Parker outlined the qualities that made "Life of Pi" a film which, in his opinion, showed a new creative path for films.

He added, "It had the magic of cinema. When you see someone use 3-D, when you see someone use visual effects in such a new and fresh way, you suddenly realize then that that is the future of cinema."

Parker added, "I have never seen it done so well. Li An is a wonderful storyteller, and all those things together make it a pretty great movie."

Parker found Li's eclectic choice of films throughout his career very stimulating.

He said, "The amazing thing about him is that he has done so many different types of film; to go and see a Li An film you go and see something different everytime. I have tried to do that with my films. Most directors make the same film over and over again, but he is so different. He comes out of a different starting block each time. which makes him such a great artist."

Li An, whose previous hit movies include the Chinese film "Eat, Drink, Man, Woman", the international-hit Gong Fu movie "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon", and "Brokeback Mountain" which won him a Best Director Oscar, agreed that his film opened up new opportunities.

Li said, "I think in a sense not only cinemascope in 3-D and digital can help in the art of film-making."

Li outlined the qualities he tried to put in the film, "I think most of all it has an otherness. It is not a typical formula movie, and I think it has opened up lots of chances for myself, and I hope also for lots of other filmmakers who can make different types of movie and that makes films more interesting. The world box office has stood up, and that has opened up the chance for all kinds of film making."