China's Golden Rooster Awards: 'American Dreams in China,' 'Back to 1942' Take Top Honors

'American Dreams in China'

In the midst of China’s economic reform period, three college students bond over a shared fascination with Western literature, music and movies, and an ambition to live the American dream, a fascination that leads to the foundation of a wildly successful English-language tutorial institute.

Local attendees noted a decline in the event's glamour due to government-mandated austerity measures, while two Iranian films were the surprise winners in foreign-film categories.

Hong Kong director Peter Chan's American Dreams in China was the big winner at China's Golden Rooster and Hundred Flowers Film Awards over the weekend. A drama about three friends battling for success in the country's wildly competitive business climate, the film took the best director trophy for Chan and shared the best dramatic film award with Chen Li's The Story of Zhou Enlai. American Dreams co-star Huang Xiaoming also tied for best actor honors with Zhang Guoli, from Feng Xiaogang's Back to 1942, the night's other top winner.

Feng's historical epic about famine during the Sino-Japanese war took four more awards: the Special Jury Prize, best adapted screenplay, best cinematography and best sound recording.

STORY: Veteran Producer Don Mischer to Direct Chinese Awards Show

Two Iranian films were the somewhat unlikely winners in the foreign-film categories. Parviz Sheikh Tadi's Days of Life picked up the Best Foreign Film Award, while Marjan Ashrafzadeh took the event's best foreign screenwriter award for her work on Wet Letters.

Starlet-turned-director Zhao Wei won the best directorial debut award for her hit coming-of-age drama So Young.

The Golden Rooster Awards, part of the 22nd Golden Rooster and Hundred Flowers Film Festival, which kicked off last week in the Central Chinese city of Wuhan, is the longest-running movie awards show in China, but it has diminished somewhat in local prestige over recent years, while failing to ever attain much prominence abroad. 

State broadcaster CCTV noted in its coverage that the festival had scaled back in glitz due to government-mandated austerity measures.

"It's [the] thrift festival," actress Huxierde Tuerdi quipped to CCTV. But the various Chinese celebrity nominees and winners all took a turn on the event's red carpet nonetheless. 

STORY: China Box Office: ‘American Dreams' Topples ‘Iron Man 3' to Top Weekly Charts

Various other awards programs, backed by different regional governments and corporate sponsors, are competing to claim -- convincingly -- the title of "China's Oscars."

On Oct. 7, China's Huading Awards will be held in the former Portuguese colony-turned-casino city of Macao. Established in 2007 by Beijing-based media company Global Talents Media Group, the Huading Awards are held several times throughout the year at various Chinese locations, feting stars of both sport and entertainment. For the latest edition, the company has brought in veteran live-show producer Don Mischer to consult on the event. Mischer has produced or directed three Academy Award shows, two Olympics opening ceremonies, several Super Bowl halftime shows and the Obama Inaugural Celebration in Washington, D.C., in 2009.

Here is a list of the Golden Rooster and Hundred Flowers Film Award winners:

Best Dramatic Film: American Dreams in China, The Story of Zhou Enlai
Best Medium Budget Film: Feng Shui
Best Director: Peter Chan (American Dreams in China)
Special Jury Prize: Back to 1942, Wu Tianming
Best Actor: Huang Xiaoming (American Dreams in China), Zhang Guoli (Back to 1942)
Best Actress: Song Jia (Falling Flowers)
Best Supporting Actor: Wang Qingxiang (The Grandmaster)
Best Supporting Actress: May Wang (Caught in the Web)
Best Debut Director: Zhao Wei (So Young)
Best Foreign Film: Days of Life
Best Documentary: Battle of Chosin Reservoir
Best Original Screenplay: Huang Hong, Wang Jinming (Fallen City)
Best Adapted Screenplay: Liu Zhenyun (Back to 1942)
Best Foreign Screenplay: Marjan Ashrafizadeh (Wet Letters)
Best Cinematography: Lu Yue (Back to 1942)
Best Sound Recording: Wu Jiang (Back to 1942)
Best Art Direction: William Chang, Alfred Yau (The Grandmaster)
Best Score: Zhang Shaotong (The Story of Zhou Enlai)