Zhang Yimou

Zhang Yimou, 1951–, Chinese film director. Sentenced to forced labor during the Cultural Revolution (1966–76) because his father had been an officer in Chiang Kai-shek's army, he then studied at the Beijing Film Academy (1978–82), becoming part of the Fifth Generation, a group that sought to make innovative films dealing with sociopolitical issues. In the 1980s he worked as a cinematographer and actor, directing his first film, Red Sorghum, in 1987. Ju Dou (1990), the first Chinese film to be nominated for an Academy Award for best foreign film, concerns an ill-fated illicit love in early 20th-century rural China. His Raise the Red Lantern (1991), the story of a concubine's life in 1920s China, also was nominated for best foreign film, as was Hero (2002), a stylized period martial arts film. Other action films include House of Flying Daggers (2004) and Curse of the Golden Flower (2006). To Live (1994) examines the effects of Communism on a Chinese family; the critically acclaimed Coming Home (2014) deals with the Cultural Revolution. In more recent films Zhang has also used Western actors; The Great Wall (2016) was his first English-language film. He also choreographed the visually stunning opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Summer Olympics (2008).

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