Yong Mei, lead actress in So Long, My Son, (wearing blue dress) is named best actress at the Golden Rooster Awards in Xiamen, Fujian province, on Saturday. (Photo/Xinhua)
This year's Golden Rooster Awards, which recognized domestic film talent and was a sensation online, enhanced confidence that the quality bar could be raised for Chinese cinema.
Twenty awards were announced during the closing ceremony of the 28th China Golden Rooster &Hundred Flowers Festival, which concluded in Xiamen, Fujian province, on Saturday.
On Sina Weibo, China's equivalent to Twitter, the hashtag for the ceremony has attracted more than 720 million views. The awards drew more than 600 stars to walk the red carpet, the most ever.
So Long, My Son, which delivered the best actor and best actress awards to its leading cast members, Wang Jingchun and Yong Mei, at the 69th Berlin International Film Festival earlier this year, brought them the same accolades at the Golden Roosters.
The film, about a family's decades of suffering brought by the death of their son, also scooped up the award for best screenplay. It was co-written by A Mei and director Wang Xiaoshuai.
Wang Jingchun said he was thrilled to win the top acting award, the first in his career, which has spanned around 20 years. The prize fulfilled his highest ambitions as a professional performer, he said.
The Wandering Earth, a game-changer that revived the Chinese sci-fi film genre, took home the award for Best Picture.
Guo Fan, director of the blockbuster, said he is preparing a sequel and will spend three or four years in polishing the script, followed by a year of shooting.
Guo said The Wandering Earth, despite its overwhelming popularity with Chinese audiences, may just surpass 60 points out of 100 in the reference system of the world's top sci-fi films. He said he hopes the sequel will raise the line a bit more, to "around 70 points".
Hong Kong director Dante Lam, known for his action-studded scenes on location, won the award for best director for the box-office hit Operation Red Sea.
In a bit of a surprise, Lam said that the action sequences — which take place at sea, on land and in the sky — were not his top challenge.
Instead, the director had struggled to seek "the soul of the film" before starting to roll the cameras. His solution was to carry a tone that reflects the greatness of humanity.
As one of the most prestigious honors in China, the Golden Rooster Awards were launched in 1981. Starting in 2005, it merged with Hundred Flowers to be presented in alternate years.
However, the Golden Rooster Awards will be held annually from now on, with honors presented in Xiamen for at least five years.
Actor and director Xu Zheng said at an earlier festival forum that the change was made because China has a huge market and enough films to compete annually.
According to the China Film Administration, the country's top industry regulator, China produced 1,082 features and grossed 61 billion yuan ($8.7 billion) in box office revenues last year.
Xu said he hopes domestic films will lead the tide of Chinese language movies worldwide, and he encouraged local talent to strive for a high level.