Really proud of being a Chinese
Chinese famous movie star Zhang Ziyi was in Washington recently for her first visit to Washington D.C. with the Chinese movie delegation to attend the “2006 Chinese Film Festival” in the US. Zhang expected to pay a visit to the White House as an ordinary visitor, but was overjoyed to receive an invitation letter asking her together with other members of the delegation to participate in the US President George W. Bush’s welcome ceremony for the visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao in the south lawn of the White House on April 20.
The Western mainstream media has paid even more attention to Zhang’s visit to Washington D.C. than the Chinese media. Many big news agencies around the world including Associated Press and Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported her participating in the White House ceremony. Washington Post famous reporter Stephen Hunter conducted an exclusive interview with Zhang.
Many Chinese reporters have asked their American friends the same question: “Do you know any Chinese mainland actresses?” The answer is the same: “Zhang Ziyi”. Zhang does attract the Westerners’ attention. Some people even call her “Hollywood’s Yao Ming.”
It is just because the Western mainstream has paid such close attention to Zhang, Zhang no longer represents only herself in front of the press. According to the comments found in the Internet: “when the ‘China threat theory’ prevails across the world, China could use culture representative figures such as Zhang Ziyi and Yao Ming to promote the country’s image. These figures can greatly reduce the distance between the Chinese and American people.”
Right after the White House welcoming ceremony concluded, Zhang went back to Marriott Hotel and accepted an exclusive interview by Tang Yong and Li Xuejiang, correspondents of “Global Times” and People’s Daily Online.
Zhang told Tang and Li that although she hasn’t got any opportunity to say a few words with President Bush, she regarded the activity as a valuable experience. When she saw the five-starred national flag fluttering above the lawn in the White House and the huge welcoming party, and when she saw President Hu and President Bush joining in the welcoming ceremony, she was really proud of being a Chinese.
Zhang said that she was born in a new era with frequent and popular foreign exchange and cultural exchanges. She never thought of participating in such an important welcome ceremony before. Although she has been extremely busy, she found time to participate in the ceremony which she believed would bring her special experience and understanding that cannot be bought by money. She said that as a Chinese citizen, she has very strong sense that she should “do something for my country” and play a bridging role for the cultural exchanges between China and the US.
Zhang has played in a total of 11 films since she became an actress. Almost all of them are ancient costume films or foreign films which rarely reflect present life in China. In response, Zhang said that within the past few days she has been discussing it with Chinese film director Lu Chuan. Zhang stressed the importance of selecting or writing a good script in making modern subjects films. China is no better than the US in making modern movies, said Zhang.
“If we want to shoot one, we need to stress the Chinese flavor in it”.
Zhang attached even greater importance to the roles she played.
“To find a suitable role for me is a difficult thing.” she said.
Perhaps just because of the difficulty in holding out realistic themes, Zhang’s latest film “Night Banquet” is still a piece of historical tragedies. This film was directed by the famous Chinese director Feng Xiaogang and was just finished by early 2006. It is expected to be on the theatre in September.
There is no doubt that Zhang Ziyi is now one of the most famous Chinese actresses in China, but she is also one of the most controversial performers in the country. Her famous movie “Memoirs of a Geisha” was prohibited in China because some Chinese audiences are dissatisfied with the role she played which is a Japanese geisha. The movie “Jasmine Women”, which reflects a woman’s fate in Shanghai for half a century and was originally set to be on show for April 26 this year, experienced indifferences in the biggest theatre union in Shanghai.
In regard to the experience of “Memoirs of a Geisha”, Zhang said,
“I am only an actress. What I am doing is to create different roles in the movie and I have been enjoying the whole process. I don’t want to be thrown into a political turmoil.”
On April 17, 2006, Zhang made a joke in English about Chinese directors at the press conference for the Chinese Film Festival. The short sentence “Chinese directors are too selfish” brought Zhang endless trouble. Zhang revealed her helplessness:
“I am shocked when I read the news. In fact, what I wanted to say is that Chinese directors are more implicit. They do not like to praise people. But all I want to do is just making a joke. I never expected that the correspondent just translated it directly. Really, I feel especially hard.”
When Tang and Li mentioned her English has been improved a lot, Zhang concluded it as a result of “growing up under the pressure”. When talking about Chinese movie stars, Zhang said that there are many older generation of artists in China.
“We young actors and actresses respect them so much.”
When asked about her favorite Chinese actress, Zhang did not hesitate to answer, “Gong Li”.
Upon the conclusion of the interview, Zhang told Tang and Li, “Global Times” is a very good newspaper. I have been a loyal reader of ‘Global Times'”. She conveyed her regards to the readers of the newspaper through the correspondents.