Chen Kaige is one of the most influential Chinese directors in film history. He was a leading figure in the Fifth Generation of Chinese cinema, and is the only Chinese film-maker to have won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, in 1993 for Farewell My Concubine. He is a a Golden Globe winner, an Oscar nominee and a multiple winner of the Chinese Movie Awards and the Golden Roosters.
Chen’s father was a well-known film director in China. As a young man, Chen studied at high school in Beijing and then went to the frontier of southwestern China’s Yunnan province as a young intellectual during the Cultural Revolution. Later, he joined the People’s Liberation Army.
On returning to Beijing, he was admitted to the department of directing at the Beijing Film Academy, making him one of the first directors trained after the Cultural Revolution.His first film, Yellow Earth, shot in 1984, was a landmark work among the fifth generation of Chinese directors. Set against the backdrop of the Yellow River Valley, the film was a grand epic of the past and future of the Chinese nation and was both a local success and, significantly, an international success after China opened up its films for exhibition overseas.
The ground-breaking film won the Golden Rooster for best film, was named among the top ten Asian films of the century by Asia Week and China Film’s top ten films in the past 90 years.
Chen then became a fixture on the international festival circuit, becoming the first Chinese director in competition at Cannes in 1988 with King Of The Children and then again in 1991 with Life On A String.His sumptuous 1993 epic Farewell My Concubine finally won him the Palme d’Or and remains one of the most beloved Chinese films in the last century. It was the only Chinese film named to the 2010 survey by Time magazine of 100 greatest films ever made.
Chen’s distinguished filmography also includes The Big Parade (1985), Temptress Moon (1996), The Emperor And The Assassin (1999), Together (2002), The Promise (2005), Forever Enthralled (2008), Sacrifice (2010), Caught In The Web (2012), Monk Comes Down The Mountain (2015) and last year’s award-winning Tang Dynasty epic Legend Of The Demon Cat (2017).
Chen was selected as a cultural leader at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and served as ambassador of Chinese culture to UNESCO.