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Big Names 'Sign up' for Olympic Ceremonies
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A celebrity cast has been "signed up" for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympic Games, the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) announced on Sunday.


Internationally acclaimed Chinese filmmaker, Zhang Yimou, was appointed chief director for both the opening and closing ceremonies while multi-Oscar winning Hollywood director, Steven Spielberg, was named artistic adviser.


"Today is an unforgettable day in my life and I feel very honored to be the director of the ceremonies," said 54-year-old Zhang at the appointment ceremony yesterday.


"I feel great responsibility and I make a solemn promise that I'll work with the whole team to accomplish the task successfully," he added.


Known as China's 'Fifth Generation' director, Zhang is famous around the world for his 1991 film Raise the Red Lantern and his 2004 House of Flying Daggers production. Both these films were Oscar nominated.


Zhang will be assisted by two deputy directors: Zhang Jigang, director of the Song and Dance Ensemble affiliated to the General Political Department of the Chinese People's Liberation Army and Chen Weiya, director of the China National Song and Dance Ensemble.


Led by world renowned US director Spielberg, a group of artists, experts in various fields and professors from home and abroad will assist as cultural and artistic advisers.


"It's a great honor to accept this appointment," said Spielberg, whose most recent film Munich is based on the events surrounding the murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics.


"On behalf of all the other advisers, I'd like to say that our one goal is to give the world a taste of peace, friendship, cooperation and understanding," he said.


"Using visual and performing arts, music, dance and a celebration of life we are all dedicated to making these Olympic opening and closing ceremonies the most visually striking there's ever been," said Spielberg.


Australian Richard Birch, who directed the highly praised opening and closing ceremonies of the 2000 Sydney Olympics and Yves Pepin, president of French company ECA2, will assist with the production.


During the search to find a production team for the ceremonies last year 409 submissions were received by the organizers and five of them were short-listed.


The directors and producers from the top five nominated presentations were commissioned by BOCOG to produce the events by combining the best elements of their ideas. .


At the same time BOCOG announced that it would continue to select famous artists and those with specialist skills from China and the rest of the world to participate in creating of the opening and closing ceremonies.


"The opening ceremony is a crucial part of the Olympic Games," said Liu Qi, president of BOCOG. "The success of a high-level Olympic Games with distinguishing features depends very much on the success of the opening ceremony."


"We expect to leave a lasting impression on the athletes and guests from all over the world and the many millions watching on TV by staging a fantastic ceremonies for the 2008 Olympic Games."


(China Daily April 17, 2006)





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