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AFI Closing with a Bang - And a Flower

Scenes from CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER, starring Gong Li and Chow Yun Fat, directed by Zhang Yimou, making its world premiere as the Closing Night Gala Presentation of AFI FEST 2006.

The Closing Night Gala Presentation, making its world premiere at AFI FEST 2006 presented by Audi, is CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER, directed and co-written by Zhang Yimou.

CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER stars Chow Yun Fat, Gong Li and Jay Chou. The film is set during China's Tang Dynasty of the 10th century. The Imperial family reunites as a volatile balance of power unfolds between the King, Queen and their three sons. Pitting King against Queen and father against sons, betrayal, deceit, passion and secrets are revealed.

The film is China's official submission as Best Foreign Film for the 79th Academy Awards.

CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER screens Sunday, November 12, 7:30 PM, in ArcLight Hollywood's Cinerama Dome

Zhang Yimou, who also directed HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS and HERO, is a fifth generation master filmmaker.

AFI FEST Daily News: With your films do you think, for example, "I'd like to set a film during this era in Chinese history," and then come up with the specific characters?

Zhang Yimou: I've always been interested in tragic women under superpower suppression. This story is adapted from a very famous Chinese opera. The Queen (Gong Li) is full of conflict and struggle. It is very tragic.

AFI FEST Daily News: How do you describe yourself as a person, aside from filmmaking?

Scenes from CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER, starring Gong Li and Chow Yun Fat, directed by Zhang Yimou, making its world premiere as the Closing Night Gala Presentation of AFI FEST 2006.
Zhang Yimou: I grew up during the Cultural Revolution. So I never dreamed for a bright future. It was a complete accident to become a director. But now it seems that I'm no good at anything apart from filmmaking.

AFI FEST Daily News: How do you translate that into your ability to visualize and implement awe-striking visuals and historical storylines?

Zhang Yimou: The past experiences are more related to hardship. There's a Chinese saying: Hardship is the source of art. Maybe that has some reason. Opposite to the hardship, my films are full of bright and beautiful colors. I like the contrast.

AFI FEST Daily News: What it is like to have your film's world premiere at AFI FEST?

Zhang Yimou: It is my honor to have my film's world premiere in AFI. Showing it to the professionals to start with could be a challenge.

AFI FEST Daily News: What specifically would you like the AFI FEST audience to take away from it?

Zhang Yimou: I hope the audience will focus on the characters' fate and the implied significance - apart from the beautiful colors.

AFI FEST Daily News: How do you see American audiences' reactions to the film vs. those from Chinese audiences?

Zhang Yimou: Based on my previous experience, the American audiences are very straightforward. They discuss a lot on the film itself. They pay more attention to and are more curious about people's life and the details.

AFI FEST Daily News: When did you first start making films? And did your desire to make films professionally stem from childhood?

Zhang Yimou: I made my first film in 1983 as a cinematographer and turned to be a director in 1987 after being cinematographer for a few other films and actor on one film. I never imagined I could be related to film in my childhood. At that time, films were like a fairyland, too far away and too dreamy like. Up until now, I still think it's a wonder.

AFI FEST Daily News: What is it like co-writing the screenplay?

Zhang Yimou: Actually there are only two writers as the other two are a young couple. Normally we discuss together, then they write down the draft and I revise. Then they go on another draft and I revise again.

AFI FEST Daily News: What is one question an interviewer never asks, but you always wish would?

Zhang Yimou: Actually, it's quite difficult to make such a film, because the independent art films seem to be more "artist." But to attract young audiences and to keep their interest in Chinese films, we must try all types.

AFI FEST Daily News: What is the answer?

Zhang Yimou: The genre like GOLDEN FLOWER will face the double test and challenge from both art and the market.

by Michelle Paster, AFI FEST Daily News


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