Chinese film 'The Shadowless Tower' sweeps 5 wins at Tiantan Awards

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, April 30, 2023
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At the closing ceremony of the 13th Beijing International Film Festival, which also marked the Tiantan Award ceremony, the Chinese film "The Shadowless Tower" won five awards, while the Chilean-Argentinian co-production "The Punishment" was honored with the top prize for Best Feature Film.

Actor Xin Baiqing (left) and director Zhang Lyu celebrate the five wins for their film "The Shadowless Tower" offstage at the closing ceremony of the 13th Beijing International Film Festival and Tiantan Award ceremony, held in Beijing on April 28 and broadcast on April 29, 2023. [Photo/VCG]

"The Shadowless Tower," written and directed by Zhang Lyu and starring Xin Baiqing, Huang Yao, and the legendary actor Tian Zhuangzhuang, claimed half of the 10 awards, including Best Artistic Contribution, Best Screenplay (for Zhang), Best Leading Actor (for Xin), Best Supporting Actor (for Tian), and Best Cinematography. The film will be released nationwide later this year, according to its producers.

The film follows Gu Wentong, a poet-turned-food critic, as he attempts to reconnect with his estranged father after 40 years. He develops a close bond with his colleague, photographer Ouyang Wenhui, while exploring local eateries together. As Gu reflects on his life, he discovers similarities between himself and his father. The historic White Pagoda, dating back around 700 years, is a powerful metaphor for the characters' emotions and decisions.

"I can't believe it! Thank you, jury, for loving this quietly narrated movie," said actor Xin when he accepted his award. This is his second collaboration with director Zhang Lyu, following the award-winning "Yanagawa" in 2022.

Upon receiving his screenplay award, Zhang confessed that he found the process of working on the script challenging due to feelings of loneliness and isolation. "It was like fighting a one-man battle against loneliness and isolation. As a result, this honor belongs to all of my fellow cast and crew members. Thank you for your involvement, which helped me overcome my loneliness," he said.

Producer Adrian Solar receives the Tiantan Award for Best Feature Film for "The Punishment" onstage at the closing ceremony of the 13th Beijing International Film Festival and Tiantan Award ceremony, held in Beijing on April 28 and broadcast on April 29, 2023. [Photo courtesy of BJIFF Organizing Committee]

Matias Bize's film "The Punishment" ("El Castigo") won the Best Feature Film award at the film festival. The movie tells the story of an infant who vanishes from his parents' sight in a mysterious and eerie forest following a punishment. Chilean actress Antonia Zegers, who played the devastated mother in the film, won the Best Leading Actress award. For the first time in history, the award was shared with 94-year-old French actress Line Renaud, who also won for her outstanding performance in the French movie "Driving Madeleine."

Mexican filmmaker Lila Aviles secured Best Director for "Totem," a co-production between Mexico, Denmark, and France. The film, which won three awards, including the Best Music award, depicts a seven-year-old child's day at her grandfather's home while preparing for a surprise party for her father. As chaos gradually ensues, the family's foundation starts to crumble, and the child learns the importance of letting go. Montserrat Maranon won Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the film.

Director Lila Aviles celebrates her Tiantan Award win for Best Director for "Totem" onstage at the closing ceremony of the 13th Beijing International Film Festival and the Tiantan Award ceremony, held in Beijing on April 28 and broadcast on April 29, 2023. [Photo/VCG]

The 10 awards were selected from a pool of 15 shortlisted films, chosen from an impressive 1,488 submissions received from 93 countries and regions. More than 80% of the submissions were foreign films, reflecting a marked increase in both the quantity and diversity of styles, as well as the high caliber of quality in the entries received for the festival.

The highlight of the night was the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award to Zhang Yimou, an iconic, hardworking, and prolific filmmaker who also directed the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies in 2008 and 2022. He has consistently promoted Chinese films and culture worldwide. This year, he served as the president of the Tiantan Award jury. While on stage, Zhang revealed that he had received over 500 awards domestically and internationally during his filmmaking career spanning nearly four decades. According to some media outlets' calculations, he is likely the most awarded filmmaker in China.

Filmmaker Zhang Yimou speaks on stage as he accepts the Lifetime Achievement Award at the closing ceremony of the 13th Beijing International Film Festival and the Tiantan Award ceremony, held in Beijing on April 28 and broadcast on April 29, 2023. [Photo courtesy of the BJIFF Organizing Committee]

"I am thrilled to be here with great aspirations. I was admitted to the Beijing Film Academy at the age of 28 and directed my first film, 'Red Sorghum,' at 38. Almost 40 years have passed since then, in the blink of an eye. On my filmmaking journey, I am still learning and consider myself a young man. This award should be called the Lifetime Learning Award or the Lifetime Persistence Award, as persistence is a form of power that stems from the love in one's heart. Chinese cinema needs more friends and young people to fight for it, to persist in it, to love it, and not waste their youth in vain,"  Zhang said emotionally when accepting the award.

The Beijing International Film Festival concluded on Saturday, having evolved into a cultural brand for China over the year. This year, the festival strengthened its cooperation with international festivals and institutions, bridging the gap between Chinese and global cinema. For fans, the festival screened over 180 outstanding Chinese and foreign films, many of which sold out rapidly. A series of forums and masterclasses were organized, inviting filmmakers and experts to discuss China's potential as a cinematic powerhouse.

The 13th Beijing International Film Festival and Tiantan Award ceremony closed in Beijing on April 28 and was broadcast on April 29, 2023. The grand gala featured marvelous performances to celebrate the art of film. [Photo courtesy of the BJIFF Organizing Committee]

The Beijing Market section restarted offline activities, serving as a beacon for the domestic film market and nurturing emerging filmmakers and projects. The film carnival introduced over 40 activities and nearly 100 experiential projects across 19 venues, connecting film culture and entertainment with the public. Additionally, the festival established long-term cooperation agreements with industrial parks and local programs in Beijing, planning to host investment and sharing meetings, as well as industry salons throughout the year, with the goal of creating a lasting impact.

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