Chinese films have become hot tickets around the world, but few movie-goers outside China have even heard of arguably the country's most popular director, Feng Xiaogang.
Things might change as the director has just finished his newest project, The Banquet, which is being seen as his most serious shot at overseas markets.
Feng Xiaogang has been one of China's most beloved, bankable movie names for almost a decade by his honing in on native tastes. His light, overtly contemporary comedies screened every Lunar New Year have been a custom for many Chinese.
But with his contemporaries Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige already winning international acclaim with their big budget films, the veteran director is also expressing his ambition.
Feng's newest project The Banquet is a serious historical drama, an obvious shift from his former comedic-style.
Director Feng says he's taken on this new style in order to fulfill and express the romantic sentiments deep in his heart.
"I've dreamed of shooting some romantic and even tragic films. Few of these feelings and sentiments have appeared in my previous work. Now, The Banquet has become a great opportunity for me to express my inner feelings."
And The Banquet represents his most serious shot at overseas markets, especially since he has cast Zhang Ziyi, China's hottest star, in the leading role.
Now, another of the film's cast members, Zhou Xun, has just won the Best Actress Award at the 25th Hong Kong Film Awards.
Some say the two award winning actresses will certainly insure to the success of the film's box office, but Feng Xiaogang believes the two actresses offer more than just fame.
"I think a film not only needs best actor or actress winners but also need actors and actresses with real talent and skills and full devotion to the production. I think Zhang Ziyi and Zhou Xun are both award winners and actresses whom I admire."
Regardless of the style departure or international interest, Feng believes his new movie, to be screened this September, will still be a hit in the domestic market.
(CRI April 28, 2006)