Director Wang Xiaoshuai achieved international stardom in 2001 with “Beijing Bicycle,” which won the Jury Grand Prix Silver Berlin Award at the Berlin International Film Festival. The film was also nominated for a Golden Berlin Bear and a Golden Satellite Award for Best Motion Picture, Foreign Language. He gained further international recognition with “Shanghai Dreams” (2005), which won the Jury Prize at the Cannes, and “In Love We Trust” (2008), which received the Silver Berlin Bear for Best Screenplay and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury - Special Mention, Competition at the Berlin International Film Festival. His new film, “Chongqing Blues” (2010), was nominated for a Palme d'Or at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. Xiaoshuai made his feature directing debut with “The Days” (1993). The underground film was widely praised internationally but never released in China. He went on to direct other controversial films like “Frozen” (1997) and “So Close to Paradise” (1998) before enjoying larger success with “Beijing Bicycle.” Apart from directing and writing films, Xiaoshuai has also acted in several films, including “Weekend Lover” (1995) and “The Red Violin” (1998).
Childhood and Family:
Wang Xiaoshuai was born on May 22, 1966, in Shanghai, China. He was raised in Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou in southwestern China until he was 13 years old. In Guiyang, he developed an interest in and began studying painting. Wang and his family then relocated to Wuhan. At age 15, Wang moved to Beijing where he attended the Central Art Academy Middle School and studied painting. Later, in 1985, he enrolled at the Beijing Film Academy to study directing. He graduated in 1989.
After graduating from the Beijing Film Academy, Wang Xiaoshuai was assigned to Fujian Film Studios in southern China. He did various jobs there before returning to Beijing in 1992 to make it on his own. He was eventually able to complete the film “The Days” (“Dongchun de rizi”), which he directed, wrote and co-produced. The film was blacklisted after its release by the Chinese Film Bureau because it was made outside of the state film system. However, it enjoyed comfortable acclaim on the international circuit where it was shown at several film festivals, including the Berlin International Film Festival and the International Film Festival Rotterdam. It won the Golden Alexander at the 1994 Thessaloniki Film Festival and was selected as one of the best 100 films of all time by the BBC in 1995. Despite its critical victory, “The Days” earned only limited commercial release and because the film had been screened internationally without government approval, Xiaoshuai was initially banned by Chinese authorities from making any new films.
Due to being blacklisted, Xiaoshuai launched his next effort, “Frozen” (“Jidu hanleng”), under the pseudonym Wu Ming. Originally shot in 1994, the film was finally released in 1997 in the U.S. and the Netherlands. It received the FIPRESCI Prize - Special Mention and a Tiger Award nomination at the 1997 Rotterdam International Film Festival.
Xiaoshuai was eventually permitted to start making films again and his first major film production within the Chinese studio system, “So Close to Paradise” (“Biandan, guniang”), a story of two migrant workers who are involved in a kidnapping, was released in Hong Kong on December 10, 1998, and the United States on March 9, 2001. The film premiered at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival and was screened at various additional festivals, including the 1999 Auckland Film Festival, the 1999 Montréal Film Festival, the 1999 Toronto International Film Festival, and the 1999 Gothenburg Film Festival. The film also won the FIPRESCI Prize at the 2000 Singapore International Film Festival, where Xiaoshuai received a nomination for the Silver Screen Award in the category of Best Asian Feature Film. “So Close to Paradise” was commercially released in mainland China in 2004.
In 1999, Xiaoshuai directed “The House,” a family comedy about a young urban married couple. “The House” received a limited screening in Beijing and lacked promotion. His big breakthrough arrived when he directed and co-wrote the Chinese dramatic film “Beijing Bicycle” (2001). The film premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival on February 17, 2001, and won the Jury Grand Prix Silver Berlin Award and the New Talent Award for its young lead actors Cui Lin and Li Bin. It was also nominated for the Golden Berlin Bear. After its screening at the festival, the film was subsequently banned in mainland China because it was sent there without first acquiring approval from the film board of the Chinese State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television. The ban was finally lifted in 2004. The film also received a Silver Screen Award nomination for Best Asian Feature Film at the 2001 Singapore International Film Festival. “Beijing Bicycle” received commercial release in the U.S. in January 2001 and was nominated for a Golden Satellite for Best Motion Picture, Foreign Language at the 2002 Satellite Awards. In 2002, Xiaoshuai also directed the segment “The New Year” of the Korean anthology film “After War.” He shared a Golden Leopard - Video Award from the 2002 Locarno International Film Festival for his work.
Xiaoshuais next film, “Drifters,” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on May 20, 2003, but it failed to win any awards. The film also screened at many other major film festivals around the world, including the 2003 Toronto International Film Festival, the 2003 Vancouver International Film Festival, the 2003 AFI Film Festival, the 2004 Rotterdam International Film Festival, the 2004 Seattle International Film Festival and the 2004 Calgary International Film Festival.
Two years later, Xiaoshuai bounced back with “Shanghai Dreams” (2005), a drama starring Gao Yuanyuan. The film premiered at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival as an official selection in competition for the Palme d'Or, and won the Jury Prize. It also won the Golden Orange for Best Film at the 2005 Antalya Golden Orange Film Festiva1 and the Film of Merit at the 2006 Shanghai Film Critics Awards.
“In Love We Trust” (“Zuo you”), premiered at the 2008 Berlin International Festival and won the Silver Berlin Bear for Best Screenplay and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury - Special Mention, Competition. It also received a nomination for the Golden Berlin Bear and was picked up for international distribution by the Paris based company Films Distribution.
In 2010, Xiaoshuai directed and co-wrote the dramatic film “Chongqing Blues.” It was selected for the main competition at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, where it was nominated for a Palme d'Or.
Xiaoshuai has also acted in several films. He made his feature acting debut in “Peering from the Moon” (1991), a comedy written and directed by Henry Chow. He then landed a minor role in “Zhou mo qing ren” (“Weekend Lover,” 1995) and appeared in the Canadian film “The Red Violin” (1998), which was directed by François Girard. In 2004, he returned to acting in the Chinese film “The World,” which was written and directed by Jia Zhangke. Two years later, he appeared in the Wang Guangli directed comedy “Karmic Mahjong.”
Berlin International Film Festival: Prize of the Ecumenical Jury - Special Mention, Competition, “In Love We Trust,” 2008
Berlin International Film Festival: Silver Berlin Bear, Best Screenplay, “In Love We Trust,” 2008
Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival: Golden Orange, Best Film, “Shanghai Dreams,” 2005
Cannes Film Festival: Jury Prize, “Shanghai Dreams,” 2005
Locarno International Film Festival: Golden Leopard - Video, “After War,” 2002
Berlin International Film Festival: Silver Berlin Bear, Jury Grand Prix, “Beijing Bicycle,” 2001
Singapore International Film Festival: FIPRESCI Prize, “So Close to Paradise,” 2000
Rotterdam International Film Festival: FIPRESCI Prize - Special Mention, “Frozen,” 1997
Thessaloniki Film Festival: Golden Alexander, “The Days,” 1994