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New Zhang Yimou Movie Sets Its Sights on Oscar
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The makers of Zhang Yimou's new film, Curse of the Golden Flower, are targeting an Oscar nomination in the best foreign film category, according to one of its producers.


"Even before we started filming the movie, Yimou and I had already talked about competing for the Oscars," producer Zhang Weiping said on China Central Television in footage seen on Sunday.


"We started preparing for competition in the Oscars before shooting started," he said.


Curse revolves around ancient Chinese imperial politics involving a king, queen and their children. It stars Chow Yun-fat, Gong Li and Taiwan pop sensation Jay Chou.


Zhang Weiping said the film's showcasing of Chinese culture will be a draw in the West.


"Whether it's the architecture in the film, including the architecture of the palace, or the queen's head gear, wardrobe, or the uninterrupted tradition of Chinese herbal medicine, they are put on a very exciting display in Curse," he said.


The movie's Oscar hopes are boosted by the recent decision of Sony Pictures Classics to buy the North American and Latin American distribution rights.


Zhang Weiping said Sony Pictures Classics plans to release the movie in the US this Christmas, when the film is also scheduled to open in China an unprecedented move. Chinese films usually begin in Asia and open later in the West.


He said he expects the film to easily break 300 million Chinese yuan (US$37.5 million) at the Chinese box office.


Zhang Yimou is known for his films including Raise the Red Lantern, Hero and House of Flying Daggers.


One of China's most respected directors, Zhang has won the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival twice and the Jury Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, but he has never received an Oscar nomination.


(China Daily July 19, 2006)

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