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Top 10 Chinese Outstanding Film Directors

Along with the rapid commercialisation and industrialisation of China’s film industry, the popularity, influence, and commercial value of a filmmaker may have also changed over the past a few years on the mainland. Today, I’ll talk about a list of Chinese remarkable film director and their representative works.


  1. Ang Lee 李安

Taiwanese-born Ang Lee has become one of today’s greatest contemporary filmmakers. He was one of the first Chinese-born directors to find critical and commercial success on both sides of the Pacific. He is the first Asian winner of the American Academy Award for best director for his 2005 romantic drama Brokeback Mountain. He won his second best director Oscar in 2013 for the fantasy drama, Life of Pi. He has directed a diverse set of films such as Eat Drink Man Woman (1994), which received a Best Foreign Film Oscar nomination. Sense and Sensibility (1995) ( his first Hollywood-mainstream movie), which acquired a Best Picture Oscar nomination, and won Best Adapted Screenplay. Lee was also voted the year’s Best Director by the National Board of Review and the New York Film Critics Circle. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), which swept the Oscar nominations, eventually winning Best Foreign Language Film, as well as Best Director at the Golden Globes, and became the highest grossing foreign-language film ever released in America. And Hulk (2003).


  1. Karwai Wong 王家卫

Wong Kar-wai is a Hong Kong Second Wave director. Wong’s films frequently feature protagonists who yearn for romance in the midst of a knowingly brief life and scenes that can often be described as sketchy, digressive, exhilarating, and containing vivid imagery. He is renowned as an auteur for his visually unique, highly stylized, emotionally resonant work. Wong is the first Asian director to win the Best Director Award of Cannes Film Festival with his work Happy Together(1997). Wong was the President of the Jury at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, which makes him the only Chinese person to preside over the jury at the Cannes Film Festival. He was also the President of the Jury at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival in February 2013. In 2006, Wong accepted the National Order of the Legion of Honour: Knight (Highest Degree) from the French Government. In 2013, Wong accepted Order of Arts and Letters: Commander (Highest Degree) by the French Minister of Culture.

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His important works include Days of Being Wild (1990), Ashes of Time (1994), Chungking Express (1994), Fallen Angels (1995), Happy Together (1997), 2046 (2004) and The Grandmaster (2013).


  1. Chen Kaige 陈凯歌

Born in 1952. Chen Kaige is a famous Chinese film director and a leading figure of the fifth generation of Chinese cinema. His films are known for great social realism, visual flair and epic storytelling. He catapulted to international fame following his 1993 film Farewell My Concubine, which won the Technical Prize at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival.. His other main works include Temptress Moon (1996), The Emperor and the Assassin (1999), Forever Enthralled (2008), Sacrifice (2010) and Caught in the Web (2012).


  1. Tsui Hark 徐克

Born in 1951, Tsui Hark is a Hong Kong New Wave film director., A wild fantasist often referred to as “the Steven Spielberg of Asia”. He is regarded as a pioneering filmmaker and someone who helped to revitalise Hong Kong martial art movies.Hark specializes in kaleidoscopic dramas characterized by frenzied action and a decidedly tongue-in-cheek tone. He is best known in the USA for his complex, breathlessly witty and exciting Peking Opera Blues (1986). He has been recognised for his work, including winning 2015’s best director award at China’s Golden Rooster Awards and a 2017 lifetime achievement award at this year’s Asian Film Awards.


  1. Zhang Yimou 张艺谋

Zhang Yimou was born in 1950, in the city of Xi’an. Zhang Yimou is one of the best-known directors of the Chinese Fifth Generation and one of the most influential and widely respected filmmakers working today. One of his recurrent themes has been the resilience of Chinese people in the face of hardship and adversity. He made his directorial debut in 1987 with Red Sorghum. He directed the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games, which received considerable international acclaim. His famous films include Ju Dou (1990), To Live (1994), and Not One Less (1999), House of Flying Daggers (2004)

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His many honours include the Asian Film Awards for his outstanding contribution to Asian cinema in 2010, and the 2005 lifetime achievement award at the Hawaii International Film Festival.


  1. Feng Xiaogang 冯小刚

The Beijing-born director, Feng Xiaogang is an important Chinese film director. He is well known in China as being a highly successful commercial filmmaker whose comedic films do consistently well in the box office. His work behind the camera on the multi-award-winning 2016 comedy drama, I Am Not Madame Bovary, saw him named best director at that year’s Taiwan’s Golden Horse Film Awards. He is also known for the hit 2008 comedy drama, If You Are The One, starring You Ge and Qi Shu, and its sequel, If You Are The One 2.

His main works include Dream Factory (1997), Be There or Be Square (1998), A Sigh (2000), Big Shot’s Funeral (2001), Cell Phone (2003), Assembly (2007), If You Are the One (2008), Aftershock (2010) and Back to 1942 (2012).


  1. Zhangke Jia 贾樟柯

Zhangke Jia was born on May 24, 1970 in Fenyang, Shanxi, China. He is a director and producer, known for Tian zhu ding (2013), Shan he gu ren (2015) and Sanxia haoren (2006).

A fierce critic of China’s transformative society, Jia Zhangke’s studies of problems at grassroots levels have blurred the line between fact and fiction due to his integration of documentary elements. Jia was an early convert to digital video who extended the postmodern aesthetics of Xiao Wu (1997) and Platform when he switched formats to chronicle disenfranchised youth in Unknown Pleasures.


  1. Stephen Chow 周星驰

Award-winning Hong Kong filmmaker Chow, 55, is best known around the world as the star and director of the hit action comedies Shaolin Soccer, released in 2001, and 2004’s Kung Fu Hustle.

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Both these films combine kung fu and his trademark slapstick humour, known in Cantonese “nonsensical”– a genre dubbed as “silly talk” in the West. These films includes surprise and incongruous elements, such as illogical parodies and sudden, strange dialogue and action.

He also co-wrote and directed the 2016 fantasy romantic comedy The Mermaid, about a businessman who falls in love with a mermaid who is sent to assassinate him, which is the second-highest grossing film in mainland China after Wolf Warrior 2.


  1. Wen Jiang 姜文

Wen Jiang was born on January 5, 1963 in Tangshan, China. He is an actor and director, known for Rogue One (2016), Guizi lai le (2000) and Tai yang zhao chang sheng qi (2007). He has been married to Yun Zhou since 2005. They have one child. He was previously married to Sandrine Chenivisse.


  1. Lou Ye 娄烨

Ye Lou was born in Shanghai, a city he would film beautifully in his Suzhou he (2000) (Suzhou River). His second feature Zhou mo qing ren (1995) (Weekend Lover) was both a public and critical success, crowned by the Fassbinder Prize. In 1997, he accepted to produce “Super City”, a TV series for which he hired ten of the most promising names of the sixth-generation-directors. Three years later, he came to international prominence with Suzhou he (2000) (Suzhou River), an ambitious artistic meditation on love and the status of woman in the rapidly changing Chinese society as well as a moving ode to his home town Shanghai.

Although his frequent clashes with China’s restrictive censorship board have cast the Sixth Generation filmmaker Lou Ye as a figure of controversy, his work is more defined by its sensuous quality. From his mesmerising noir Suzhou River to recent Bi Feiyu adaptation Blind Massage (2014), Lou has conflated sex and politics to emotionally devastating effect as alienated characters navigate eroticised urban landscapes.

Updated: April 28, 2019 — 1:52 PM

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