Zhang Yimou

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
Zhang Yimou (left) in 2010 at the Busan International Film Festival premiere ceremony

Zhang Yimou filmography

 

Poster for the movie "One Second"

One Second

A story about a movie fan in a remote farmland who strikes a relationship with a homeless female vagabond.

Poster for the movie "Shadow"

Shadow

The film is set during China’s Three Kingdom’s era (AD 220–280). Set during China’s Three Kingdom’s era (AD 220-280). The story of a great king and his people, who will be expelled from their homeland and will aspire to claim it. The king, violent and ambitious, of mysterious methods and motives; his general, a visionary who yearns to win the final battle but needs to prepare his plans in secret; the women of the palace, … Read more

Poster for the movie "The Great Wall"

The Great Wall

European mercenaries searching for black powder become embroiled in the defense of the Great Wall of China against a horde of monstrous creatures.

Poster for the movie "Coming Home"

Coming Home

Lu and Feng are a devoted couple forced to separate when Lu is arrested and sent to a labor camp as a political prisoner during the Cultural Revolution. He finally returns home only to find that his beloved wife no longer remembers him.

Poster for the movie "The Flowers of War"

The Flowers of War

A Westerner finds refuge with a group of women in a church during Japan’s rape of Nanking in 1937. Posing as a priest, he attempts to lead the women to safety.

Poster for the movie "Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles"

Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles

Takada, a Japanese fisherman has been estranged from his son for many years, but when the son is diagnosed with terminal cancer his daughter-in-law, Rie, summons him to the hospital. Through a series of obstacles and relationships, he is brought unexpectedly closer to both an understanding of himself and of his son. Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles is a 2005 Chinese / Japanese drama film directed by Zhang Yimou and starring Ken Takakura.

Poster for the movie "The Story of Qiu Ju"

The Story of Qiu Ju

The Story of Qiu Ju is a 1992 Chinese comedy-drama film. The film was directed by Zhang Yimou and, as in many of his films, stars Gong Li in the title role. The screenplay is an adaption of Chen Yuanbin’s novella The Wan Family’s Lawsuit. The film tells the story of a peasant woman, Qiu Ju, who lives in a rural area of China. When her husband is kicked in the groin by the village … Read more

Poster for the movie "Shanghai Triad"

Shanghai Triad

A provincial boy related to a Shanghai crime family is recruited by his uncle into cosmopolitan Shanghai in the 1930s to be a servant to a ganglord’s mistress.

Poster for the movie "The Road Home"

The Road Home

Prompted by the death of his father and the grief of his mother, a man recalls the story of how they met in flashback.

Poster for the movie "Not One Less"

Not One Less

Teacher Gao loves the students in his poor village and is devoted to educating them in the hope of their greater futures. When he is called away to tend to his dying mother for a month, the Mayor calls in an inexperienced 13 year-old replacement, Wei Minzhi; much to Teacher Gao’s dismay. Teacher Gao cannot stand the thought of losing anymore students: he has already lost twelve to ever-increasing attrition, and he promises Wei an … Read more

Poster for the movie "Keep Cool"

Keep Cool

China, the 1990s. A young bookseller is in love with a woman. The woman is now with another guy, a rich man. The rich man sends his people to beat the bookseller. In the fight, the laptop computer from a man looking at the scene gets broken. Who will pay for the computer? The bookseller wants revenge. Will it be useful? The bookseller and the laptop owner are from different ages and classes. They are … Read more

Poster for the movie "Under the Hawthorn Tree"

Under the Hawthorn Tree

The daughter of a right-winger, schoolgirl Jing Qiu (Zhou Dong-Yu) is sent to the countryside for reeducation, and tasked to help write a textbook. There she meets Lao San (Shawn Dou), a young soldier with a bright future ahead. Despite the class divide and parental disapproval, romance blooms against turbulent times.

Poster for the movie "To Live"

To Live

Fugui and Jiazhen endure tumultuous events in China as their personal fortunes move from wealthy landownership to peasantry.

Poster for the movie "Curse of the Golden Flower"

Curse of the Golden Flower

During China’s Tang dynasty the emperor has taken the princess of a neighboring province as wife. She has borne him two sons and raised his eldest. Now his control over his dominion is complete, including the royal family itself.

Poster for the movie "Red Sorghum"

Red Sorghum

An old leper who owned a remote sorghum winery dies. Jiu’er, the wife bought by the leper, and her lover, identified only as “my Grandpa” by the narrator, take over the winery and set up an idealized quasi-matriarchal community headed by Jiu’er. When the Japanese invaders subject the area to their rule and cut down the sorghum to make way for a road, the community rises up and resists as the sorghum grows anew.

Poster for the movie "Raise the Red Lantern"

Raise the Red Lantern

China in the 1920’s. After her father’s death, 19 year old Songlian is forced to marry the much older lord of a powerful family. With three wives already, each living in a separate house within the great castle, there is fierce competition for his attention and the privileges that are gained. This competition gets out of hand…

Poster for the movie "Ju Dou"

Ju Dou

A woman married to the brutal and infertile owner of a dye mill in rural China conceives a boy with her husband’s nephew but is forced to raise her son as her husband’s heir without revealing his parentage in this circular tragedy. Filmed in glowing technicolour, this tale of romantic and familial love in the face of unbreakable tradition is more universal than its setting.

Poster for the movie "House of Flying Daggers"

House of Flying Daggers

In 9th century China, a corrupt government wages war against a rebel army called the Flying Daggers. A romantic warrior breaks a beautiful rebel out of prison to help her rejoin her fellows, but things are not what they seem. At its height, the Tang Dynasty was one of the most enlightened empires in Chinese history. But in 859AD, the Dynasty is in decline.

Poster for the movie "Happy Times"

Happy Times

Zhao is an old laid-off worker who’s dreaming of getting married. After trying unsuccessful proposals, he finally pair off with a gargantuan divorcée with two children. She, however, demands a lavish wedding and that Zhao finds a job and another place to stay for her blind step-daughter. Pretending he’s the General Manager of a non-existent posh hotel “Happy Times”, Zhao had to find ways and means of keeping both mother and stepdaughter happy.

Poster for the movie "Hero"

Hero

One man defeated three assassins who sought to murder the most powerful warlord in pre-unified China.