Not One Less
China's best-known director won the top prize at the Venice
Film Festival, while a compatriot was honored for a movie that
has been censored by the Beijing authorities.
Zhang Yimou, who put Chinese cinema on the map with Red
Sorghum, Raise the Red Lantern and To Live, scooped the Golden
Lion award for best film for his eloquent tale of a rural
village school, Not One Less.
Zhang, the first Chinese director to be nominated for an
Oscar, said it was
a movie he had wanted to make for years. "I made this
film with my heart, and I hope the future generations can have
a better life," he told a news conference after the
Zhang Yuan won a new award-the special prize for best
director-for Seventeen Years, a searing tale of a reunion
between a woman jailed for 17 years for killing her
stepsister, and her family.
The movie, which takes a camera inside a Chinese prison for
the first time, was co-financed by Italy's Fabrica Cinema, a
unit of fashion group Benetton. Zhang Yuan complained that the
Chinese authorities, who censored his film and refused to
recognize it officially, had intended only one filmmaker-Zhang
Yimou-to be represented at the festival.
"It is quite rare for two Chinese films to win prizes at
the same festival," he said. "This prize is an
incentive for all new Chinese cinema." Zhang Yuan said
his biggest desire was to be able to make "many films in
China," and that the award would promote his effort to
securing distribution at home, adding he had received five
major U.S. distribution proposals.
In Chengdu City, Sichuan Province, there are several
nightclubs which have opened offering "high
education" sanpei or 'three accompaniment' girls.
Journalists investigating this story were shocked to find that
many of these highly educated club girls gave very direct
responses to their questions. The average age of these girls
was 18 - 25 and many were university graduates.
When asked why they worked as entertainment girls, they
answered for both economic and personal reasons. The girls
explained that their income was commensurate with their
education qualifications. For instance, a poorly educated girl
could only receive ?00-200 each night for accompanying
customers in eating, drinking and merry-making; while a girl
with a higher education could receive as much as ?00-400 a
night for the same services.
When interviewed by journalists, a Ms. Zhu explained, "I
can make the same amount of money here in two days of work
that I can make for one month's work outside doing a proper
office job. My university degree can earn a much higher rate
in a nightclub than if I work in an office."
- Southern Weekend
Faith in the Party
In Wanzhou District, Chongqing Municipality, a construction
project contractor named Ying had just completed a
construction project and wanted to collect the outstanding
fees owed. He went to the project manager named Zhou Yongming
asking him to pay the amount outstanding.
Zhou refused to pay Ying. So Ying offered Zhou a kickback of
?0,000 if he paid back the amount owed. Zhou said, "I
cannot do that!" Zhou was afraid to pay the funds and
betray his company for a kickback. Ying said, "Don't
worry. I am a Communist Party member. I swear on the guarantee
of the Party that this is okay!" Zhou responded,
"Oh. If you are a Party member then I can trust
you." So he gave the money and got the kickback. The
story was revealed after both were arrested and confessed.
- Beijing Evening News
Shen Xingeng of Yangzhou City in Jiangsu Province was a worker
from a poor family. One afternoon recently, the leader of the
local neighborhood committee brought a cart full of coal for
heating and fresh rice to the home of poor worker Shen. The
leader announced: "We are here to send warmth to your
To emphasize the goodness of this deed in helping the poor,
this neighborhood leader and other key members of the
neighborhood committee busily unloaded the coal stacking it in
Shen's home, following which they took the fresh rice and
filled poor Shen's empty rice barrel. All the while, there was
a video team, busying filming the good works of this
neighborhood committee to make a propaganda film. When the
film crew finished their video work, the neighborhood leader
gave the order and all members of this good-deed-doing
neighborhood committee collected the coal back, and then
emptied poor Shen's rice barrel returning the rice into a bag
on the cart. They then took the cart away leaving Shen Xingeng
as poor as before. "It was all just a show!" poor
- Southern Weekend
Revolution For Sale
The sacred sites of China's revolution have become totally
commercialized. "There is no feeling of seriousness at
all," journalists write.
Revolutionary sites such as Yan'an have become covered with
advertisements. In the very hall where Mao Zedong convened the
7th Party Congress-on each side of the podium from which Mao
lectured on socialism-there are now two color televisions
running continual advertisements.
The famous pagoda in Yan'an (seen in the backdrop of many
vintage photos of Mao and Zhu De) now has a 5-6 meter
advertisement in front of the pagoda, so you cannot see it
Many tourists-especially devout Party members-who have
traveled long and far on pilgrimages to these sacred historic
sites, are offended by this overt commercial exploitation of
- Beijing Daily
At the Financial Academy in Shandong Province, students are
demonstrating their business skills in new and creative ways.
Many agents have emerged providing services. The agencies are
called "express feeling service companies." Most of
these companies are opened by students from the academy.
Mr. Ji Lingwang was interviewed by journalists and explained
that his service involves "Representing clients to obtain
love and even refuse or get rid of lovers." He added that
"If you are unhappy we can even provide a room where you
can yell, scream and throw a temper tantrum. You can even
break all the things in the room!"
Mr. Ji explained, "Our service fee is relatively
low" adding that "if you want to get rid of your
lover we only charge ?. However if you want to release your
anger and break things, we charge ?." These services are
extremely popular and these companies are prospering!
- Beijing Daily
Public Security Online
How can you report that your car has been stolen? Where do you
go for "official seal chopping" and what files do
you need when you plan to go abroad? To answer these
questions, you have to check at the local public security
bureau and the formalities are often very time consuming.
Beijing Public Security has established a website at
www.bjgaj.gov.cn to facilitate formalities for residents as
well make the government's work available for public scrutiny.
Moreover, government work procedures are published and a more
transparent working style is being promoted.
- Beijing Youth Daily
Mozart's Magic Flute
Acclaimed Chinese film director Zhang Yimou says he plans a
production of the Mozart opera The Magic Flute after the
success of last summer's staging of Puccini's Turandot.
Zhang told a news conference at the Venice film festival that
the new work would be put on at a German opera house, but he
did not yet know when or where. He said he also was working on
the script of a new film, which he hoped to begin shooting
before the end of the year. "It has an urban plot,"
he said, speaking in Mandarin through an interpreter.
Zhang, who has angered Chinese authorities with some of his
films in the past and had some of his work banned, said he
intended to continue making films at home now.
"I have no desire for the moment to film abroad. I'm very
familiar with my country and not familiar with abroad. So I
want to continue making films in China."