Beijing Screenings anoints Wang with awards, backing

'Tuya's Marriage' director stands out at four-day market

HONG KONG -- The Beijing Screenings wrapped Friday with a smattering of deals, a great deal of pizzazz and a few subtle hints about who is in and who is out.

The four-day private screening series came to a close with an elaborate awards ceremony held at the Reignwood Theatre. It is apparently the only venue in China with a floor big enough to hold a cocktail reception that then sinks downwards and in its place emerges plush stalls seating.

Once installed, the visiting foreign executives, bosses from China Film Group and senior officials from the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television were treated to an over-long session of dry ice, back-slapping and promotional excerpts from films which the buyers had been watching all week.

Still, for modern-day Kremlinologists whose business it is to snatch policy trends or industry direction from subtle gesture, the ceremony was a fascinating pageant.

On the basis of his prominence during the evening and the number of prizes he was awarded, Wang Quan'an is now to be considered one of China's top directors. While his previous "Tuya's Marriage" won the Golden Bear in Berlin two years ago, Wang's name was rarely heard alongside the exalted names of Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige or rising star Ning Hao.

Wang's latest film, "Weaving Girl," an old fashioned and quiet drama about a woman dying of cancer, already won prizes in Montreal and now seems destined for further international promotion.

A pair of awards for "City of Life and Death" and its director Lu Chuan might suggest that Lu still has believers in places that count, although the controversial historical drama was recently barred from another recent Chinese prize ceremony.

The screening series itself, held in a modern multiplex in the cosmopolitan Wangfujing district, was a useful exercise which gave overseas buyers and festival programmers a chance to soak up a large number of Chinese-made movies in a short time. Japanese distributor Waco is understood to have made offers for three of them. The mart was also accompanied by a seminar on overseas film promotion and a Euro-Chinese co-production event organized by the European Producers' Club.