Legendary Producer Raymond Chow Honored by Tokyo International Film Festival

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The founder of powerhouse studio Golden Harvest will be presented with the TIFF Special Appreciation Award on Oct. 20.

HONG KONG – Legendary Hong Kong producer and founder of powerhouse studio Golden Harvest, Raymond Chow, will be honored by the 25th Tokyo International Film Festival with the TIFF Special Appreciation Award in gratitude of his support of the festival since its launch in 1985.

Chow was a jury member for the Young Cinema Competition at the inaugural edition of TIFF, which Chow called “one of the most prestigious invitations in my life.” Over the years, the festival has showcase a number films Chow produced, including the Bruce Lee classic Enter the Dragon (1973) and the Tsui Hark-directed Jet Li-starrer Once upon a Time in China (1991). A retrospective of Chow’s work will be showcased at the 25th to commemorate the award, which will be presented to the renowned filmmaker at the TIFF opening ceremony on Oct. 20.

Chow was best known for founding Golden Harvest in 1970, which helped usher in the second golden age of Hong Kong cinema, as well as the discoveries of action icons Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, and launching their careers onto the international stage. The 83-year-old film veteran, retired since 2007, began his film career working at Shaw Brothers in 1958, and continued to produce over 800 films during his career. A visionary, he was one of the first Hong Kong filmmakers to eye the English-speaking U.S. and international markets for Hong Kong stars, producing the Hollywood star-studded 1980 hit Cannonball Run that put Jackie Chan amidst Burt Reynolds, Roger Moore, Farrah Fawcett, Sammi Davis Jr., and Dean Martin.  Under Chow’s direction, Golden Harvest also produced international blockbuster Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in 1990, which grossed over $200 million worldwide.

On the news of the being named as the recipient of the award, Chow said, “We were all passionate about film, and about how to nurture ‘the next generation’, so it was with great pleasure that we launched the Young Directors category of the TIFF. I am being very honest when I say the jury members had very wise insights that opened my eyes and inspired me to make more and better films,” Chow commented in a statement.

“I have always been very blessed to have friends in Japan who went through many ups and downs with me. They believed in me, shared my enthusiasm in Bruce Lee, the Hui brothers (Mr. Boo) and Jackie Chan and brought my films to the Japanese audience,” continued Chow, who was instrumental in the enormous popularity of Hong Kong stars such as Lee and Chan in Japan in the 1970’s and 1980’s. “But at the same time, we also became very good friends for many years, and although I am retired now, we continue to get together – at the Tokyo International Film Festival. Congratulations, TIFF, on turning 25. Happy birthday!”

One of the most respected figures in the film industry across Asia, Chow has been the recipient of countless film awards, as well as accolades and honors from governments, including the Order of the British Empire bestowed by Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom in 1987, the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold Rays with Rosette by by the Emperor of Japan in 1996, and the Gold Bauhinia Star from the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in 1998.