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Wang Xiaoshuai’s “So Long, My Son” Scoops Two Berlin Film Festival Awards

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The latest film from Wang Xiaoshuai, the Shanghai-born director behind Beijing Bicycle and Chongqing Blues, picked up two awards as the 2019 Berlin Film Festival wrapped this past weekend — even as most China-related headlines from the awards were created by the non-appearance of Zhang Yimou’s new Cultural Revolution-set movie.

Although Wang’s exploration of social issues in a rapidly developing China missed out on the Golden Bear Award given for best film, stars Yong Mei and Wang Jingchun both picked up Silver Bear Awards for Best Actress and Best Actor respectively. The film “tackles China’s big issues” according to Variety, via a family saga that the director has been keen to frame as, “a hopeful story of people overcoming their struggles.”

Wang’s participation in the festival was somewhat overshadowed by the issues affecting another famous Chinese director, “Fifth Generation” auteur Zhang Yimou. The festival was due to end with the premiere of Zhang’s “One Second”, a film set amid the chaos of the Cultural Revolution. Yet the schedule was changed just days before the festival began after Chinese censors reportedly objected to extra material that Zhang had worked into a new cut of the movie.

Reuters reported that, “the festival said the film had been pulled because of “technical difficulties encountered during post-production,” and that “Hero”, Zhang’s 2002 historic blockbuster, would be screened instead.”

Zhang was the first Chinese director to win the Golden Bear Award with Red Sorghum in 1988. Wang too is no stranger to the Berlin festival, having previously picked up Silver Bear Awards for Beijing Bicycle and Left Right.

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Jake Newby
Jake Newby is a Shanghai-based writer and editor with more than a decade's experience living and working in China. Previously managing editor of Time Out Shanghai, he's also written for publications such as South China Morning Post and the Financial Times.