Feng Xiaogang wins int'l award but delays new film

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, September 19, 2016
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China's top director Feng Xiaogang won an award for his new black humor satire "I Am Not Madame Bovary" at the Toronto International Film Festival, but postponed its domestic release amid much speculation about the reasons.

A poster for "I Am Not Madame Bovary". [Photo / China.org.cn]

The film, starring Fan Bingbing, Guo Tao, Da Peng, Zhang Jiayi, Zhang Yi and Fan Wei, won FIPRESCI Award for the Special Presentations program from the international film critics' organization at the festival which concluded Sept. 18 with "La La Land" by Damien Chazelle winning the audience award and Pablo Larraín's "Jackie" taking the Platform prize.

"I'm honored, and this award is also the result of Bingbing's hardwork," Feng said in a video he sent to thank the audience after hearing the good news.

Feng and leading actress Fan are currently in Spain to promote the film at the 64th San Sebastian International Film Festival. "I Am Not Madame Bovary" is one of 17 competing for the coveted Golden Shell prize, including Ewan McGregor's directorial debut "American Pastoral" and Baltasar Kormakur's "The Oath."

Feng tried some innovative and creative techniques in making the film, "I Am Not Madame Bovary," which is based on Liu Zhenyun's novel. A major part of it will be shown in the round screen frame, which only shows limited round-shaped imagery on a normal rectangular film screen to create a keyhole effect.

It received rave reviews after premieres in Toronto and San Sebastian. Film critic David D'Arcy of Screen International wrote that the film "has a sublime visual elegance, telling its story much of the time with wondrous pictorial effects in a round frame that feels like a magnifying glass," while Hollywood Reporter's Deborah Young hailed Fan's performance, "Like the fighter she plays, Fan Bingbing holds her own against a big all-male cast who are all against her, and shows off her gifts as a comedienne in a surprisingly low-key role."

However, with all the praise and high public anticipation, the producers suddenly announced they had pushed back the China release date from Sept. 30 to Nov. 18. It will be costly for the producers and distributors, which include Beijing Sparkle Roll Media Corp., Huayi Brothers Media Corp., Beijing Skywheel Entertainment Co., Huayi Brothers Pictures and Zhejiang Dongyang Mayla Media Co., as the promotion for Sept. 30 release was far advanced. The planned China premiere will also have to be canceled.

The stunning delay has stirred much speculation. Industry insiders said it is probably due to some content that has not yet got green light from the censors and needs some adjustment and improvement. The film, about 140-minutes long, tells the story of a rural woman spending two decades fighting for her legal rights after being swindled by her ex-husband, with a focus on China's bureaucratic politics.

After the withdrawal of Feng's film, Guo Jingming's fantasy epic animation "L.O.R.D(Legend of Ravaging Dynasties," Zhang Yibai's romantic feature "Belonged To You," Dante Lam's action film "Operation Mekong" and Wong Jing's comedy "Mission Milano" will compete in the seven-day National Day holiday season starting on Oct. 1.

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