Aftershock by Feng Xiaogang (China 2010) won the Audience Award at the Far East Film Festival in Udine Italy. The announcement was made at the closing ceremony of the festival, which ran from April 29 – May 7. The winning film was shown in over 3,500 theaters in China – the number one box office draw last year in China and the highest domestic release ever.
Based on the novel from 2006 by Zhang Ling, the story is set during the July 1976 Tangshan earthquake that claimed the lives of over 240,000 people in China. Yuan Ni (played by Xu Fan, the wife of Feng Xiaougang) and her husband Da Qing (Zhang Guoqiang) return home to find their twins 6-year old twins Fang Deng and Fang Da unable to leave the apartment building that is collapsing. Da Qing goes up to rescue them and dies in the process. Yuan Ni can only choose to save one of the children in the aftermath, according to the rescue workers. Fang Da is handicapped for life, and Fang Deng is left for dead and raised by two People’s Liberation Army officers in another city. When the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake strikes in 2008, the grown twins (Chen Li and Jingchu Zhang) meet during the rescue operation. Fang Deng, now married to an American lawyer is finally is able to reunite with her brother, a successful businessman. She meets Xu Fan who has plagued herself for 32 years for the fateful day when an earthquake struck for 23 seconds.
During the course of the film, Mao dies, and the rebuiliding of China is chronicled in the paradigm shift of New China. The film is dedicated to the victims of the earthquake. At the time of the disaster, China did not openly report on the devastation of the earthquake to the international press and conducted internal rescue operations.
Aftershock was China’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2010 Academy Awards. It won Best Film and Chen Daomingwon Best Actor at the 2010 Asia Pacific Screen Awards.
Second place for the Audience Award went to Zhang Yimou’s moving story about a young couple in love during the Cultural Revolution. Under the Hawthorn Tree (China 2010) is based on a true story and Shawn Dou as Jianxin and Dongyu Zhou as Jinqiu are brilliant in their roles. We learn early on that Jianxin has a serious illness and may not live long but Jinqiu is determined to find him when he disappears.
In third place for the Audience Award was Chris Martinez´ Here Comes the Bride (Philippines, 2010). The story is about five people involved in a five-car pileup during a solar eclipse. All change identities as a result – the outspoken lawyer, the bride, her father, her fashion stylist, and the maid. The situation makes for a far fetched comedy that was greatly appreciated by the Udine audience. In attendance for the screening was director Chris Martinez and actress Eugene Domingo who plays the outspoken lawyer.
Nakashima Tetsuya’s Confessions previously reviewed here at San Francisco – icedjamb.com won the “Black Dragon” and “My Movies” audience awards for best film. Confessions is about a middle school teacher who takes revenge on the two students who murdered her daughter and is based on the bestseller by Minato Kanae.
For San Francisco’s dedication to Asian cinema, these award winning films are something to watch for in the coming months.
San Francisco – icedjamb.com Film Industry Critic Moira Sullivan, reporting from the Far East Film Festival in Udine, Italy (April 29-May 7).