The China Huabiao Film Awards, one of the country's most prestigious honors for cinema, announced the winners for its 18th and 19th editions on Tuesday night.
Launched by China's top film regulator in 1995, the biennial award was originally scheduled to announce the winners for its 18th edition in 2020 and for its 19th edition in 2022. As both editions had to be postponed because of the pandemic a combined ceremony was held this year to announce the awards.
My People, My Country, a 2019 anthology blockbuster celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, was one of the biggest winners in the 18th edition, taking home four awards, including the best feature, the best actor and the best actress.
Reflecting the industry's recognition of collaborative efforts of Chinese filmmakers, My People, My Country and nine other movies, including The Climbers (2019) and The Captain (2019), jointly won the best feature entry, or the Outstanding Feature Film Award, at the 18th Huabiao Film Awards.
The Climbers is based on Chinese mountaineers who scaled Qomolangma in 1960 and 1975, while The Captain is adapted from the heroic real-life story of a Sichuan Airlines pilot who made an emergency landing to save the lives of 119 passengers in 2018.
The 19th edition also gave the Outstanding Feature Film Award to 10 movies, including The Battle at Lake Changjin (2021), which revisits the title conflict during the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea (1950-53), and Embrace Again (2021), which is based on how ordinary people in Wuhan, Hubei province, fought COVID-19 in the winter of 2020.
Chen Kaige, a representative auteur of China's so-called "fifth generation directors", won the Outstanding Director Award for two films — My People, My Country and The Battle at Lake Changjin.
He said that My People, My Country, which brought together seven directors for seven standalone tales, is an unprecedented film in the history of Chinese cinema, featuring a collaboration of some of the country's top filmmakers and recording some of the historic moments since the founding of New China.
The best actor award in the 18th edition went to Zhang Yi for My People, My Country and the 19th edition accolade went to Liu Ye for biographical film Island Keeper (2021).
"I am pleasantly surprised to have won this award. Every time I receive recognition for my work, I strongly feel the need to maintain that level of quality in my future projects, so that I can continue to satisfy my audiences. Each award serves as a new challenge that pushes me to start from scratch and create something better," Zhang said.
Ren Suxi won the best actress award in the 18th edition for My People, My Country, while Zhang Zifeng landed the award in the 19th edition for her stirring role as a nurse determined to become a doctor in Sister (2021).
Ren said the award is her "inspiration" and "encouragement", and that she believes it will motivate her to perform even better in the future.
The Wandering Earth (2019), China's highest-grossing sci-fi epic of all time, received two awards — for the best feature and the best scriptwriter — in the 18th edition.
For most of the 400-plus attendees at the joint awards ceremony, held in the National Indoor Stadium, the event was a coveted opportunity to enjoy and appreciate the achievements of the Chinese film industry over the past few years.
Huang Jianxin, producer of My People, My Country and The Battle at Lake Changjin, said he is seeing more young talent emerge each day in China's rapidly developing film industry, and expressed his admiration for their passion for and love of cinema.