|Real Name:||Zhang Yimou|
|Birth Day:||April 2, 1950|
|Birth Place:||Xi'an, Shaanxi, China, China|
|#1||Zhang Yi Jiao||Children||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#2||Zhang Yi Ding||Children||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#3||Zhang Yi Nan||Children||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Height||Weight||Hair Colour||Eye Colour||Blood Type||Tattoo(s)|
During the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, Zhang left his school studies and went to work, first as a farm labourer for 3 years, and later at a cotton textile mill for 7 years in the city of Xianyang. During this time he took up painting and amateur still photography, selling his own blood to buy his first camera. In 1978, he went to Beijing Film Academy and majored in photography. He has an Honorary Doctorate Degree from Boston University and also one from Yale University.
When the Beijing Film Academy reopened its doors to new students in 1978, following the abandonment of policies adopted during the Cultural Revolution, Zhang, at 27, was over the regulation age for admission, and was without the prerequisite academic qualifications. After a personal appeal to the Ministry of Culture, and showing a portfolio of his personal photographic works, the authorities relented and admitted him to the Faculty of Cinematography. Zhang graduated with the class of 1982, which also included Chen Kaige, Tian Zhuangzhuang, and Zhang Junzhao. The class went on to form the core of the Fifth Generation, who were a part of an artistic reemergence in China after the end of the Cultural Revolution.
Zhang and his co-graduates were assigned to small regional studios, and Zhang was sent to work for the Guangxi Film Studio as a cinematographer. Though originally intended to work as director's assistants, the graduates soon discovered there was a dearth of directors so soon after the Cultural Revolution, and gained permission to start making their own films. This led to the production of Zhang Junzhao's One and Eight, on which Zhang Yimou worked as director of photography, and Chen Kaige's Yellow Earth, in 1984. These two films were successes at the Hong Kong Film Festival and helped to bring the new Chinese cinema to the attention of worldwide audiences, signaling a departure from the earlier propagandist films of the Cultural Revolution. Yellow Earth is today widely considered the inaugural film of the Fifth Generation directors.
In 1985, after moving back to his home town of Xi'an, Zhang was engaged as cinematographer and lead actor for director Wu Tianming's upcoming film Old Well, which was subsequently released in 1987. The lead role won Zhang a Best Actor award at the Tokyo International Film Festival.
1987 saw the release of Zhang's directorial debut, Red Sorghum, starring Chinese actress Gong Li in her first leading role. Red Sorghum was met with critical acclaim, bringing Zhang to the forefront of the world's art directors, and winning him a Golden Bear for Best Picture at the 38th Berlin International Film Festival in 1988.
Codename Cougar (or The Puma Action), a minor experiment in the political thriller genre, was released in 1989, featuring Gong Li and eminent Chinese actor Ge You. However, it garnered less-than-positive reviews at home and Zhang himself later dismissed the film as his worst.
In 1989, he was a member of the jury at the 16th Moscow International Film Festival.
Zhang's next directorial work, The Story of Qiu Ju, in 1992, once again starring Gong Li in the lead role. The film, which tells the tale of a peasant woman seeking justice for her husband after he was beaten by a village official, was a hit at film festivals and won the Golden Lion award at the 1992 Venice Film Festival.
Shanghai Triad followed in 1995, featuring Gong Li in her seventh film under Zhang's direction. The two had developed a romantic as well as a professional relationship, but this would end during production of Shanghai Triad. Zhang and Gong would not work together again until 2006's Curse of the Golden Flower.
1997 saw the release of Keep Cool, a black comedy film about life in modern China. Keep Cool marked only the second time Zhang had set a film in the modern era, after The Story of Qiu Ju.
In 1998, he directed an acclaimed version of Puccini's opera Turandot, firstly in Florence and then later Turandot at the Forbidden City, Beijing, with Zubin Mehta conducting, the latter documented in the film The Turandot Project (2000). He reprised his version of Turandot in October 2009, at the Bird's Nest Stadium in Beijing, and plans to tour with the production in Europe, Asia and Australia in 2010.
As in The Story of Qiu Ju, Zhang returned to the neorealist habit of employing non-professional actors and location shooting for Not One Less in 1999 which won him his second Golden Lion prize in Venice.
In 2001, Zhang adapted his 1991 film Raise the Red Lantern for the stage, directing a ballet version.
Happy Times, a relatively unknown film by Zhang, was based loosely on the short story Shifu: You'll Do Anything for a Laugh, by Mo Yan. Starring popular Chinese actor Zhao Benshan and actress Dong Jie, it was an official selection for the Berlin International Film Festival in 2002.
Zhang's next major project was the ambitious wuxia drama Hero, released in China in 2002. With an impressive lineup of Asian stars, including Jet Li, Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Zhang Ziyi, and Donnie Yen, Hero told a fictional tale about Ying Zheng, the King of the State of Qin (later to become the first Emperor of China), and his would-be assassins. The film was released in North America in 2004, two years after its Chinese release, by American distributor Miramax Films, and became a huge international hit. Hero was one of the few foreign-language films to debut at number 1 at the U.S. box office, and was one of the nominees for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2003 Academy Awards.
Zhang has co-directed a number of outdoor folk musicals under the title Impression. These include Impression, Liu Sanjie, which opened in August 2003 at the Li River, Guangxi province; Impression Lijiang, in June 2006 at the foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in Lijiang, Yunnan province; Impression West Lake, in late 2007 at the West Lake in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province; Impression Hainan in late 2009, set in Hainan Island; and Impression Dahongpao set on Mount Wuyi, in Fujian province. All five performances were co-directed by Wang Chaoge and Fan Yue.
Zhang followed up the huge success of Hero with another martial arts epic, House of Flying Daggers, in 2004. Set in the Tang Dynasty, it starred Zhang Ziyi, Andy Lau, and Takeshi Kaneshiro as characters caught in a dangerous love triangle. House of Flying Daggers received acclaim from critics, who noted the use of colour that harked back to some of Zhang's earlier works.
Released in China in 2005, Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles was a return to the more low-key drama that characterized much of Zhang's middle period pieces. The film stars Japanese actor Ken Takakura, as a father who wishes to repair relations with his alienated son, and is eventually led by circumstance to set out on a journey to China. Zhang had been an admirer of Takakura for over thirty years.
Zhang also led the production of Tan Dun's opera, The First Emperor, which had its world premiere at the Metropolitan Opera on 21 December 2006. In 2017 he directed an innovative ballet titled ‘’2047 Apologue’’, where the 12 minute solo finale The Weaving Machine was choreographed by Rose Alice Larkings and including hundreds of LED lamps. Onstage as Rose Alice danced the 12 minute solo was an elderly Chinese weaver at her loom, highlighting the old crafts and industries which remain so important in a world of new technology.
In 2008, he won a Peabody Award "for creating a spell-binding, unforgettable celebration of the Olympic promise, featuring a cast of thousands" at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.
Zhang was a runner-up for the Time Magazine Person of the Year award in 2008. Steven Spielberg, who withdrew as an adviser to the Olympic ceremonies to pressure China into helping with the conflict in Darfur, described Zhang's works in the Olympic ceremonies in Time magazine, saying "At the heart of Zhang's Olympic ceremonies was the idea that the conflict of man foretells the desire for inner peace. This theme is one he's explored and perfected in his films, whether they are about the lives of humble peasants or exalted royalty. This year he captured this prevalent theme of harmony and peace, which is the spirit of the Olympic Games. In one evening of visual and emotional splendor, he educated, enlightened, and entertained us all."
On 24 May 2010, Zhang was awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree by Yale University, and was described as "a genius with camera and choreography."
Zhang's 2011 The Flowers of War was his most expensive film to date, budgeting for $90.2 million, until his 2016 The Great Wall surpassed it with a budget of $150 million.
According to the mainstream media in China, Zhang married Chen Ting, who is a dancer in December 2011; she had three children with him. However, when the news came out, Zhang had no immediate response. On 29 November 2013, under pressure from the public and criticism on the Internet, Zhang's studio released a statement that acknowledged Chen Ting and their three children. On 9 January 2014, the Lake District Family Planning Bureau, in accord with China's one-child policy, said Zhang was required to pay an unplanned birth and social maintenance fee totaling RMB 7.48 million (roughly US $1.2 million). On 7 February 2014, it was reported that Zhang had paid the fee.
Associated Press reported on 9 May 2013 that Zhang was being investigated for violating China's one-child policy. AP reported that he had allegedly fathered 7 children with 4 women, and faced large potential fines.
After the mixed reception and financial disappointment of The Great Wall, Zhang returned in 2018 with the critically acclaimed Shadow, which received 12 nominations at the 55th Golden Horse Awards and eventually won four, including Best Director.
Currently, Yimou Zhang is 72 years, 10 months and 5 days old. Yimou Zhang will celebrate 73rd birthday on a Sunday 2nd of April 2023.
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