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Thai Gay Film “Fathers” Makes China Debut

Thai gay-themed film ‘Fathers’ has made its debut in China. The movie tells the story of a same-sex couple who is struggling to build a family in spite of societal prejudice and legal difficulties.

Manya Koetse

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Thai gay-themed film Fathers has made its debut in China. The movie tells the story of a same-sex couple who is struggling to build a family in spite of societal prejudice and legal difficulties. Many netizens are happy to see the movie; especially since gay-themed films and dramas have been met with censorship in China over the past years.

Six months after the Thai gay-themed film Fathers premiered in Thailand, it has now made its debut in China on November 27 under the Chinese title Liǎng gè Bàba 两个爸爸 [Two Fathers].

The film, directed by Platphol Mingpornpichit, tells the story of gay couple Phoon and Yuke, who have adopted an orphan son named Butr and come to face multiple social and legal problems throughout their journey in building a family.

thaigayfilmfathers

Fathers realistically shows how Phoon and Yuke are confronted with their young son’s questions after he is teased in school for having “fag” fathers. In the 95-minute movie, the two fathers struggle to find their roles as fathers while staying true to themselves. “Love starts with two people, but family is more than just the two,” the movie’s tagline says.

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Fathers premiered in China through “Heavenly Thai Drama” (Tianfutaiju), a platform promoting Thai pop culture through Weibo and other Chinese social media sites. On Sina Weibo, Tianfutaiju has over 1.8 million followers (@天府泰剧).

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Tianfutaiju released the film, with Chinese and English subtitles, on its official channel on Chinese video platform Bilibili.com.

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The film’s release is especially noteworthy in light of several incidents over the past year that have shown the general discomfort of Chinese regulators with gay-themed dramas and films. Popular gay-themed web drama Heroin (上瘾) was pulled offline earlier this year.

In early 2016, Chinese State Administration released new regulations that forbid “homosexuality” in filmography, as it supposedly conveys “unnatural” values of love (Guangming Online). The State Administration was sued by Chinese film director and gay activist Fan Popo, as his 2012 documentary on homosexuality Mama Rainbow (彩虹伴我心) was removed from all online video platforms by December 2014.

China’s first gay movie Seeking McCarthney (寻找罗麦) by director Wang Chao was supposed to hit Chinese cinemas shortly after March 2016, but according to the film’s Weibo page it has still not been officially released.

On Weibo, many netizens appreciate the release of Fathers. “I like this film, it’s very realistic,” one person says. Within a few hours after the movie’s release was announced on the Tianfutaiju Weibo site, it was shared over 690 times.

“I am so thankful to Tianfutaiju [for posting], I am moved to tears,” one netizen commented. Other netizens also expressed their joy that the movie was released on the Bilibili platform with Chinese subtitles: “I have been waiting a long time to see this film. Thank you so much.”

The film can be viewed here. Comments in the screen can be turned off in settings. (Note: What’s on Weibo is in no way associated with Tianfutaiju, its channel or Bilibili).

– By Manya Koetse
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©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on hotpotambassador.com. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Arts & Entertainment

Chinese Movie ‘Home Coming’ Becomes National Day Box Office Hit

China’s latest patriotic blockbuster ‘Home Coming’ focuses on Chinese diplomats as the saviours of overseas Chinese in times of trouble.

Manya Koetse

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China has got another patriotic box office hit this National Day holiday. ‘Home Coming’ (万里归途) is inspired by China’s overseas citizens protection response during the 2011 Libya crisis, and is sparking waves of nationalistic sentiments.

On October 1st, China’s National Day, the Chinese movie Home Coming (万里归途) became a trending topic on Chinese social media after its cinema debut on September 30. On Saturday, the movie’s box office sales hit 200 million yuan ($28 million) (#万里归途票房破2亿#).

The National Day holiday, which started on Saturday, is a common time for Chinese domestic movies – often patriotic ones – to hit the theaters. It is one of the most profitable times of the year for Chinese cinemas and also the time when the biggest domestically-produced films are boosted while Hollywood movies are limited.

The 2022 Home Coming war drama was directed by Rao Xiaozhi (饶晓志) and features major Chinese actors such as Zhang Yi (张译), Wang Junkai (王俊凯) and Yin Tao (殷桃).

The film tells the story of Chinese diplomats Zong Dawei (大伟与) and Cheng Lang (成朗), who are ordered to assist in the evacuation of overseas Chinese when war breaks out in North Africa in 2011. Just when they think they’ve successfully completed their mission, they learn they have to return to save a group of 125 compatriots who are still left behind.

The movie is said to be based on real events but it is set in the fictional Numia Republic (努米亚共和国). According to Chinese state media outlet China.org, Home Coming is inspired by an evacuation event in Libya in 2011, when the Chinese embassy reportedly evacuated more than 30,000 Chinese nationals in a time frame of 12 days.

At the time, Chinese official media called it “the largest such operation China had mounted abroad since the Nationalists fled in 1949” and Chinese nationals were evacuated from the war-torn Libya via land, sea, and air (Zerba 2015, 107).

On Weibo, there are many reviewers giving Home Coming a five-star rating, with some saying the movie moved them to tears. “I needed four tissues,” one movie-goer said, while another person complained that they forgot to bring any tissues to dry their tears. In light of the movie’s premiere, photos of people crying while watching the film also circulated online.

Although there were also a lot of fans who especially loved the role played by the super popular Wang Junkai, many movie-goers expressed pride in China after watching the movie, which revolves around the idea of finding one’s way back home – back to China.

Although Home Coming is said to be the first film about a Chinese foreign evacuation from a diplomat’s perspective, there have been multiple domestic movies over the past decade focusing on Chinese civilians needing to be rescued from chaos erupting abroad.

In Operation Red Sea (红海行动, 2018), which also stars Zhang Yi, a Chinese special task force sets out on a risky mission to evacuate civilians amid civil war in the fictional ‘Republic of Ihwea’ – loosely based on the evacuation of Chinese citizens from Yemen in 2015.

At the end of the Home Coming movie, a text showed up on the screen to remind Chinese viewers to always get in touch with the Foreign Ministry hotline for assistance if they find themselves in an emergency situation while abroad.

Chinese movie star Wu Jing (吴京) also makes a cameo appearance in this film. Wu is most famous for his role in Wolf Warrior 2, in which he plays a special forces soldier who battles foreign mercenaries and helps Chinese and African citizens during a local war in Africa.

“My love for my country reached a new height after seeing this film,” one person wrote, with others applauding the efforts of Chinese diplomats and saying they were so happy be a Chinese national.

While Home Coming was trending on Chinese social media, last year’s patriotic hit film also went trending at the same time (#长津湖首播收视率第一#): Battle at Lake Changjin was aired on TV for the first time by CCTV-6 on the evening of October 1st. To read more about why that movie became such a major success, check out our article here.

By Manya Koetse 

References

Zerba, Shaio H. 2015. “China’s Libya Evacuation Operation: a new diplomatic imperative – overseas citizen protection.” In Suisheng Zhao (ed), China in Africa: Strategic Motives and Economic Interests, p 100-120.

 

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China Arts & Entertainment

Hundred Flowers Awards 2022: Full List of Nominees and Must-Watch Chinese Movies (Updated)

The complete list of Hundred Flowers Award nominees for 2022.

Manya Koetse

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Which Chinese movies released from February 2020 to February 2022 are nominated for this year’s Hundred Flowers Awards? Who are the best directors and which actors could expect an award? Here’s all you need to know about the upcoming Hundred Flowers Awards and the list of nominations.

Update July 31st: we’ve marked the winners in each list in this text. We’ve also embedded the author’s Twitter thread on the Award ceremony below this article, which includes all winners. To go directly to the thread, click here.

This week, China’s Hundred Flowers Film Festival and award ceremony will take place in Wuhan from July 28-30; the red carpet ceremony will take place July 30. Earlier this month, on July 20, nominees for the 36th edition of China’s Hundred Flowers Awards were announced, with the list of nominees becoming a trending topic on Chinese social media.

Here is all you need to know about the Hundred Flowers Awards and the nominations.

ABOUT THE AWARDS

The Hundred Flowers Awards are one of China’s most important government-approved film awards along with the Golden Rooster Awards and Huabiao Awards.

The Hundred Flowers Awards were first established in 1961 by the Association of Chinese film Artists in collaboration with Popular Cinema magazine (大众电影), based on readers’ votes. The initial initiative was proposed by Premier Zhou Enlai at the time and approved by the Central Propaganda Department.

Known as the ‘people’s’ awards, the Hundred Flowers’ first edition was presented in May of 1962, when 117,000 people voted for the best films. Amid the turmoil and political mobilization of the Cultural Revolution, the awards were suspended from 1963-1979 but were reinstated in 1980. In that year, 700,000 people cast their votes (Wang 2014, p. 136; Nakajima 2019, p. 232).

Since 2004, the Hundred Flowers Award Ceremony is no longer an annual one but a bi-annual one, alternating with the Golden Rooster Awards. The two festivals also share one account (@金鸡百花电影节) on Chinese social media platform Weibo.

As explained by Nakajima (2019, p. 233), the initial selection for the films is made by a group of committee members under the organization of major film theatre managers belonging to the China Film Distribution Exhibition Association. After the approval of the Awards Organising Committee, the nominations are then sent to the China Literary and Art Federation, which decides on the ten final nominees and also selects the individual awards from these movies.

The round-up of the ten nominated films is then publicized and people’s votes determine the final five candidates for each category. The final selection comes down to a pre-approved group of 101 audience juries, from students to military staff, to cast votes at the Awards Ceremony.

This year, the official social media account of the Hundred Flowers Awards also clarified that all of the selected movies have been viewed by more than one million people, and were released and screened in nationwide cinemas nationwide from February 1, 2020, to February 28, 2022. There were a total of 108 films meeting the eligibility criteria.

 

The Nominated Films:

in random order



 

#1 Battle at Changjin Lake (长津湖) (UPDATE: WINNER)

As one of China’s biggest movies of the past few years, the war movie Battle at Lake Changjin became a social media sensation in the fall of 2021. The movie provides a Chinese perspective on the start of the Korean War and the lead-up and unfolding of the battle of Chosin Reservoir, a massive ground attack of the Chinese 9th Army Group against American forces, preventing them from driving Kim Il-Sung and his government out of North Korea. The film specifically follows the Wu brothers, company commander Wu Qianli (Wu Jing) and the young volunteer soldier Wu Wanli (Jackson Yee), and their fellow soldiers fighting side by side in extreme conditions. If you want to read more about this movie, we did a background article on it here. Watch the trailer here.

#2 Hi Mom (你好,李焕英)

Hi Mom was the box office favorite in China during the 2021 Spring Festival period. It tells the story of Jia Xiaoling (Jia Ling) who is devastated when her mother Li Huanying has a serious accident one day and passes away. Jia is especially grief-stricken because she feels she has not become the daughter she wanted to be for her mother. When she finds herself transported back in time to the year 1981, she meets her young mother before she was her mum, and becomes her friend in the hopes of making her happy and change her life for the better. For more about this movie, also check our article here. Watch the trailer here.

#3 Nice View (奇迹·笨小孩)

Released in February 2022, Nice View tells the story of the 20-year-old Jing Hao (Jackson Yee) who comes to live in Shenzhen to look after his little sister Tong Tong after the unexpected death of their mother. Desperate to pay for his little sister’s much-needed heart surgery and hoping for a better future, Jing Hao does everything he can to provide an income and create a more stable life for him ad Tong Tong, but he faces many hurdles along the way (think Pursuit of Happyness). Watch the trailer here.

#4 A Little Red Flower (送你一朵小红花)

A Little Red Flower is a touching movie about family, romance, and two cancer patients. The cynical young Wei Yihang – who claims he can see the future – and the open-minded Ma Xiaoyuan meet each other during a particularly tough time in their lives when they are caught between their past and uncertain future. Anyone familiar with American hit film The Fault in Our Stars might feel there is a striking similarity between the two movies, something that has also been discussed in the media. Watch the trailer here.

#5 Chinese Doctors (中国医生)

Chinese Doctors is a medical drama that features the story of a group of doctors at a Wuhan hospital, being the first in the world to deal with the novel coronavirus. The movie, based on true events, shows the struggles of medical front-line workers facing a virus that would change the world as we know it. Watch the trailer here.

 

Nominated for Best Screenplay:

in random order



 

#1 Hi Mom (你好,李焕英)

Jia Ling (贾玲) and Sun Jibin (孙集斌) were nominated for the screenplay of Hi Mom. Besides being responsible for the screenplay, which was inspired by events in her own life, Jia Ling also directed the movie and plays the main protagonist. Sun Jibin also wrote the screenplay for the 2017 Trouble Makers.

#2 Battle at Lake Changjin (长津湖)

Lan Xiaolong (兰晓龙) and Huang Xin (黄欣) were nominated for the screenplay of Battle at Lake Changjin. Both screenwriters also did the screenplay for the sequel of this film, titled Water Gate Bridge (长津湖之水门桥).

#3 Be Somebody (扬名立万) (UPDATE: WINNER)

Libashen (里八神), Liu Xunzimo (刘循子墨, also the director), Zhang Benyu (张本煜), and Ke Da (柯达) were nominated for their writing team efforts on the Be Somebody screenplay, which they began writing in 2018 and finished in 2020 before filming began. The small budget film became an unexpected success after National Day in 2021. It is a mystery comedy set during the Republic of China (1912-1949) that follows the story of a group of frustrated filmmakers who gather to plan a new film about a notorious criminal case. Little do they know that the actual murderer is among them. Watch the trailer here (no English subtitles).

#4 Chinese Doctors (中国医生)

Yu Yonggan (于勇敢) was nominated for best screenplay for the movie Chinese Doctors. Yu is also known for his work for The Captain and The Bravest.

#5 Nice View (奇迹·笨小孩)

Zhou Chuchen (周楚岑), Xiu Mengdi (修梦迪), Wen Muye (文牧野), Han Xiaohan (韩晓邯), Zhong Wei (钟伟) were nominated for the screenplay of Nice View.

 

Nominees for Best Directing:

in random order


 

#1 Battle at Lake Changjin (长津湖)

The ‘dream team’ of Chen Kaige (陈凯歌), Tsui Hark (徐克), Dante Lam (林超贤) are nominated for directing The Battle at Changjin Lake.

#2 Hi Mom (你好,李焕英)

For director Jia Ling, this nomination as best director is especially noteworthy since Jia is mostly known as a comedian in China, often performing during the annual Spring Festival Gala. This movie is her directorial debut.

#3 Chinese Doctors (中国医生)

Andrew Lau, known in China as Liu Weiqiang (刘伟强), was nominated as best director for Chinese Doctors (中国医生). The prolific Hong Kong film director, producer, and cinematographer most most notable in the West for his action and crime films.

#4 Be Somebody (扬名立万)

Liu Xunzimo (刘循子墨) is both the director and co-writer for Be Somebody.

#5 Nice View (奇迹·笨小孩)

Director Wen Muye (文牧野) is nominated for Nice View, which is the second feature film by the director. The Chinese film Dying to Survive was the young director’s debut in 2018, and it became an absolute box office sensation and one of China’s highest-grossing films of all time. For Dying to Survive, Wen also worked together with producer Ning Hao and Jackson Yee, who also stars in Nice View.

 

Nominated for Best Actor:

in random order



 

#1 Liu Ye (刘烨)

The renowned actor Liu Ye (1978) is nominated for his role as Wang Jicai (王继才) in Island Keeper (守岛人). Liu already won best actor for the same role during the Golden Deer Awards in December of 2021. Island Keeper is about the true story of Wang Jicai and his wife Wang Shihua who guarded a Chinese border island – Kaishan Island – for 32 years from 1986 to 2018.

#2 Shen Teng (沈腾)

Shen Teng (1979) was nominated for his role as bionic robot Xing Yihao (邢一浩) in My Country, My Parents (我和我的父辈), a four-part anthology drama film directed by four directors, who also each star in their own segment. Shen’s segment is called Go Youth. Shen previously also starred in other successful movies, such as Goodbye Mr. Loser and Hello Mr. Billionaire.

#3 Wu Jing (吴京)

Wu Jing (1974) also known as Jacky Wu, is nominated for his role as commander Wu Qianli (伍千里) in Battle at Changjin Lake (长津湖). Wu is a renowned and award-winning actor who starred in some of the most famous Chinese films of the past decade, including The Wandering Earth and Wolf Warrior.

#4 Jackson Yee (易烊千玺)

Jackson Yee is definitely one of the most-discussed people for this award edition. As a singer, dancer, and youngest member of popular boy band TF Boys since 2013, Yee has a major fan base. Over the past years, he has become a notable actor and he starred in the nominated films A Little Red Flower, Nice View, and The Battle at Lake Changjin. This nomination is for his role as Jing Hao (景浩) in Nice View (奇迹·笨小孩). Yee previously also received critical acclaim for his role in Better Days (2019).

#5 Zhang Yi (张译) (UPDATE: WINNER)

Zhang Yi (1978) is nominated for his role as Zhang Xianzhen (张宪臣) in Cliff Walkers (悬崖之上), a film by Zhang Yimou about four Communist Party special agents who embark on a secret mission and find themselves surrounded by threats on all sides.

 

Nominated for Best Actress:

in random order



 

#1 Deng Jiajia (邓家佳)

Deng Jiajia (1983) was nominated for her role as Su Mengdie (苏梦蝶) in Be Somebody (扬名立万). Deng starred in various well-known movies and TV dramas, among them the romantic comedy television series iPartment (爱情公寓).

#2 Jia Ling (贾玲)

Besides Jackson Yee, Jia Ling is also one of the names that are nominated multiple times. Besides being nominated for directing and writing Hi Mom, she is also on the nomination list for best actress starring as Jia Xiaoling (贾晓玲).

#3 Yuan Quan (袁泉) (UPDATE: WINNER)

Yuan Quan (1977) was nominated for her role as Wen Ting (文婷) in Chinese Doctors, for which she worked again with director Andrew Lau and co-star Zhang Hanyu like she did for The Captain (2019).

#4 Zhang Xiaofei (张小斐)

Zhang Xiaofei (1936) is nominated for her role as Li Huanying in Hi Mom, which means she is a direct competitor of Jia Ling, who plays her daughter in the film.

#5 Zhang Zifeng (张子枫)

The young Zhang Zifeng (2001) is nominated for her role as An Ran (安然) in Sister (我的姐姐). The movie, directed by Yin Ruoxin (殷若昕), revolves around the story of An Ran, an 18-year-old daughter who is unexpectedly facing the major responsibility for her 6-year-old brother after the tragic loss of their parents. Read more about this film in this article about how the film stirred online discussions on traditional fanily values in 2021.

 

Best Supporting Actor Nominations:

in random order


 

#1 Hou Yong (侯勇) (UPDATE: WINNER)

Hou Yong (1967) was nomiated for his role as Wang Changjie (王长杰) in Island Keeper.

#2 Liu Haoran (刘昊然)

Noteworthy enough, this is the only category nomination for the movie 1921, which came out to commemorate the centennial year anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party and tells the story of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party. Liu Haoran (1997) was nominated for his role as Liu Renjing (刘仁静).

#3 Tian Yu (田雨)

Another nomination for Nice View is for Tian Yu (1975) for his role as Liang Yongcheng (梁永诚).

#4 Jackson Yee (易烊千玺)

Besides his other nomination for Best Actor (Nice View), Jackson Yee was also nominated for his role in Chinese Doctors as Yang Xiaoyang (杨小羊).

#5 Zhu Yawen (朱亚文)

Zhu Yawen (1984) was nominiated for his role as political instructor Mei Sheng (梅生) in Battle at Changjin Lake.

 

Nominations for Best Supporting Actress:

in random order


 

#1 Hai Qing (海清)

Hai Qing (1978) is nominated in this category for playing the eldest sister in My Country, My Parents.

#2 Liu Jia (刘佳)

Liu Jia (1960) was nominated for playing the middle-aged Li Huanying in Hi, Mom.

#3 Qi Xi (齐溪)

Qi Xi (1984) was nominated for her role as Wang Chunmei, the female worker who helps Jing Hao (Jackson Yee) reach his goals, in Nice View.

#4 Zhou Ye (周也)

Zhou Ye was nominated for starring in Chinese Doctors as Xiao Wen (小文).

#5 Zhu Yuanyuan (朱媛媛)(UPDATE: WINNER)

A second nomination for Sister is for Zhu Yuanyuan (1974) as Antie Rongrong.

 

Best Newcomer Nomination:

in random order



 

#1 Chen Halin (陈哈琳)(UPDATE: WINNER)

The little Chen Halin, just nine years old, is was nominated for her role as the little sister ‘Tong Tong’ in Nice View.

#2 Qin Xiaoshen (秦霄贤)

The Chinese comedian ad host Qin Xiaoshen (1997), also known as Victor Qin was nominated for playing Dahai (大海) in Be Somebody.

#3 Ren Sinuo (任思诺)

Ren is the youngest newcomer at the awards, she starred in My Country, My Parents and is just six years old.

#4 Xu Yu (徐砡)

Xu Yu (2011) is another child star who played Xiao Bao (小宝) in Island Keeper.

#5 Yuan Jinhui (袁近辉)

Yuan Jinhui (2011) was nominated for playing the little brother in My Country, My Parents.

 
Read more about Chinese cinema here.
 

Update on ceremony and winners in thread below:

By Manya Koetse

 

Get the story behind the hashtag. Subscribe to What’s on Weibo here to receive our weekly newsletter and get access to our latest articles:

References

Nakajima, Seio. 2019. “Official Chinese film awards and film festivals: History, configuration and transnational legitimation.” Journal of Chinese Cinemas 13 (3): 228–243

Wang, Zhuoyi, 2014. Revolutionary Cycles in Chinese Cinema, 1951-1979. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

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