Red Star

Surprise winner in Venice

Cai Shangjun

Cai Shangjun grew up in Beijing and studied at the Central Academy of Drama, where he met his friend Zhang Yang, one of the most successful independent filmmaker in China’s history. Cai was the screenwriter for three of Zhang’s films: Spicy Love Soup (1997), Shower (1999) and Sunflower (2005).

Why is he famous?

Cai turned to filmmaking in the late 1990s. His first film, The Red Awn, won the FIPRESCI Prize at Korea’s Pusan Festival in and the Golden Alexander Award for best film at Greece’s Thessaloniki International Film Festival among other awards.

Why is he in the news?

Cai received the Silver Lion for best direction at the Venice Film Festival for his film Ren Shan Ren Hai (“People Mountain People Sea”). Based on a true story, the film follows a man who hunts down the murderer of his younger sibling.

“In times of rapid change,” Cai said in a statement, “how do we find peace of mind and our true self?”

The movie is also the ‘surprise film’ in Venice this year. Each year, the title of one film in the festival’s main competition is kept secret until moments before its premiere. But it seems that Beijing was also surprised by the entry. As it turns out, the film was apparently not approved by Chinese censors before showing in Venice, something that might have negative consequences for the director…


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