Zhang Yimou (born 2 April 1950) is a Chinese film director, producer, writer and actor, and former cinematographer.
Ever since his directorial debut, ‘Red Sorghum’ (1987) won the Golden Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival, Zhang Yimou has established his reputation as one of the most talented and influential directors today.
Zhang Yimou was born in China in 1950 and studied cinematography at the Beijing Film Academy. He became a leading member of China’s Fifth Generation Filmmakers, the first group to graduate following the turbulent Cultural Revolution. He is an accomplished actor, starring in ‘Red Sorghum’ as well as earning the Best Actor Award at the Tokyo International Film Festival for his performance in ‘Old Well’ (1986). Zhang Yimou is also a skilled cinematographer, with credits including ‘Yellow Earth’ (1984), ‘Old Well’ (1986), and ‘The Big Parade’ (1986).
Zhang Yimou has received multiple honours as a director. He is the first Chinese filmmaker to receive Motion Picture Academy recognition, being nominated for Academy Awardsâ in the Best Foreign Film category for ‘Ju Dou’ in 1990, ‘Raise the Red Lantern’ in 1991, and ‘HERO’ in 2003. He has earned numerous top honors, including the Silver Lion at the 44th Venice International Film Festival for ‘Raise the Red Lantern’ (1991), the Golden Lion Award at the 45th Venice International Film Festival for ‘The Story of Qiu Ju’ (1992), the Grand Jury Prize at the 47th Cannes International Film Festival for ‘To Live’ (1994), the Golden Lion Award at the 52nd Venice International Film Festival for ‘Not One Less’ (1999), the Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival for ‘The Road Home’ (1999) and the Alfred Bauer Award for ‘HERO’ (2003).
‘HERO’ went on to sweep the board at the 22nd Hong Kong Film Awards, winning awards for Best Action Choreography, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Music, Best Sound and Best Visual Effects.
He is counted amongst the Fifth Generation of Chinese filmmakers, having made his directorial debut in 1987 with Red Sorghum.
Zhang has won numerous awards and recognitions, with Best Foreign Film nominations for Ju Dou in 1990, Raise the Red Lantern in 1991, and Hero in 2003, Silver Lion and Golden Lion prizes at the Venice Film Festival, Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, and the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival. In 1993, he was a member of the jury at the 43rd Berlin International Film Festival. Zhang directed the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games, which received considerable international acclaim.
One of Zhang’s recurrent themes is the resilience of Chinese people in the face of hardship and adversity, a theme which has been explored in such films as To Live (1994) and Not One Less (1999). His films are particularly noted for their rich use of colour, as can be seen in some of his early films, like Raise the Red Lantern, and in his wuxia films like Hero and House of Flying Daggers. His highest budgeted film to date is the 2016 monster film titled The Great Wall, set in Imperial China and starring Matt Damon.
Zhang Yimou filmography