China to submit 'The Nightingale' at Oscars: report

5th October 2014, Comments 0 comments

China is reportedly set to spring a surprise by submitting the Chinese-French production "The Nightingale" as the nation's Oscars entry for best foreign film.

Directed by Philippe Muyl, the film follows a journey undertaken by an old man and young girl in southern China and is an adaptation of the director's 2002 French film "The Butterfly".

No Chinese entry had been received for the 2015 Oscars when the deadline for submissions past last Wednesday.

However reports emanating from the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) Sunday claim the delay had been down to the fact China's two-day National Day holiday started on the same day.

"The movie [The Nightingale] was chosen shortly before the National Day public holiday and will be announced officially after the holiday," an industry source told the Hollywood Reporter.

Academy Awards officials have so far not commented on the report.

More than 60 countries met last Wednesday's official deadline for submissions, with many nations revealing their entries -- but China, home to a fast-growing film industry, was not among them.

Film buffs had thought Chinese officials were debating whether to offer up "Coming Home", a family-led drama set during the tumultuous Cultural Revolution, or gritty contemporary thriller "Black Coal, Thin Ice". But no official explanation behind the delay had previously been given.

"We haven't heard anything," said Zhang Zhao, producer of "Coming Home", on the sidelines of BIFF in South Korea.

"There are many outstanding Chinese movies around now, so for us it is wishful thinking."

The US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is set to announce its shortlist of five selected foreign entries in January, ahead of the Oscars ceremony on February 22, 2015. Italian film "The Great Beauty", directed by Paolo Sorrentino, won this year's prize.

"Coming Home" has been screening in Busan, and three-times Oscar nominated director Zhang Yimou said he hoped it had shed some light on his country as it tours the international festival circuit.

The 62-year-old director of "Ju Dou" (1990), "Raise the Red Lantern" (1991) and "Hero" (2002) -- all nominated for best foreign film Oscars -- said he wanted the world to understand Chinese history across the many eras that held "special places" in his heart.

"Whatever film I make I want to draw attention to the characteristics as well as the uniqueness of Chinese people and Chinese culture," he said.

The veteran director will next turn his attention to more commercial fare with a blockbuster fantasy set around the mythical ancient beginnings of China's Great Wall.

Oscar-winning Hollywood star Matt Damon is rumoured to be putting his hand up for a role, but the director said he had only just begun the casting process for the film, tentatively set for release in 2016.

"The movie I plan to start at the beginning of next year will be very different," said Yimou. "It will be a very commercial film -- it will be a sword-fighting film, and it will be a fantasy film."

As the world's second largest film market, China is increasingly becoming involved in international productions, and Zhang's Great Wall film is being backed by US studio Legendary Pictures. The director previously worked with British Oscar-winner Christian Bale for his 2011 drama "The Flowers of War".

© 2014 AFP

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