China's best-known filmmaker Zhang Yimou will join hands with Hollywood director Steven Spielberg in designing the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2008 Olympic Games.
The Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2008 Olympics (BOCOG) on Sunday unveiled a high-profile crew to produce the most eye-catching cultural events.
Spielberg will serve as an artistic consultant along with Australian Ric Birch, director of the highly successful opening and closing ceremonies at the Sydney Games in 2000, and Yves Pepin, president of French company ECA2.
"I am very honored to be named the chief director of the ceremonies," Zhang said at a ceremony at BOCOG's headquarters.
"It is a huge task...but I promise that I will fulfill the task successfully."
Spielberg, who is on a two-day visit to Beijing, also said he was honored to get involved in the Beijing Olympics.
"Our one goal is to give the world a taste of peace, friendship, cooperation and understanding," he said.
"Through the visual arts, the performing arts, the art of music, the art of dance, the art of celebration of life, all of us are dedicated to making this Olympic opening and closing ceremonies the most emotional everyone has ever seen."
BOCOG launched a global search for schemes for the opening and closing ceremonies in March last year. Out of the 409 proposals received, five were short-listed and BOCOG picked the final team from the directors and producers of the five schemes.
BOCOG president Liu Qi said the opening ceremony was key to the success of the Games.
"The success of a high-level Olympics with distinguishing features depends much on the quality of the opening ceremony," said Liu.
"The 1.3 billion Chinese people are full of aspirations for the Olympic Games, and they have very high expectations for the opening ceremony.
"We hope to leave an excellent impression on the athletes and guests from all over the world and billions of TV viewers by staging a fantastic opening ceremony," he added.
Zhang made his name for the film Raise the Red Lantern in 1991.
The opening ceremony of the Beijing Games will take place on August 8, 2008.
(Xinhua News Agency April 17, 2006)