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The Promise Makes Debut in Beijing
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Chinese director Chen Kaige has led his actors to Hong Kong for promotion after his Oscar candidate film, The Promise, was staged at a much publicized premiere ceremony in Beijing Monday evening.


At the ceremony square, 18 artificial Chinese flowering crabapples were "in full bloom," with a big artificial moon swaying in the frosty winds and more than 400 "soldiers" lining the red carpet.


The crabapples, a leading symbol of life in the film, were arranged by director Chen Kaige to recreate the lively atmosphere in the film, according to Yi Jianmei, who is responsible for the film's promotion in China.


"All the crabapples, made up of thin silk, cost more than 100,000 yuan (US$12,500), with each flower 8 yuan (some US$1)," she said.


The "soldiers," played by temporary actors, had been guarding the red carpet in the bleak wind since 7 AM.


The international cast of Asian superstars - Korea's Jang Dong-gun, Hiroyuki Sanada of The Last Samurai, Hong Kong stars Nicholas Tse and Cecilia Cheung, and Liu Ye of the mainland - together with the film's investors and distributors, and director Chen Kaige and his wife Chen Hong, appeared on the red carpet in succession amidst the screams of fans.


In the theater, the fans continued their passion by cheering and shouting at the stars, so that the film screening was delayed. during the screening, the fans also applauded enthusiastically their idols from time to time as if they were enjoying a live show.


The fans were invited onto the stage to play games and exchange gifts with the stars after the screening.


At the end of the ceremony, producer Chen Hong said she has much confidence of winning the Oscar.


The Promise, an Oscar candidate and the latest offering from the director of 1993's Oscar-nominated Farewell My Concubine, will be released worldwide on Thursday.


Chen and his entourage will also go to Guangzhou, Shanghai, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, The Republic of Korea, Germany and The United States for promotion, according to Yi.


Chen made The Promise in 1,090 days, trekking for nearly 10,120 kilometers, at a cost of 340 million yuan (approximately US$42 million), so the most expensive film in China.


The Promise was the only film to secure a qualification from the Chinese government to vy for the an Oscar nomination, before it was shown in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu for a week in October to meet Academy Awards eligibility rules.






(Xinhua News Agency December 14, 2005)

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