Taiwan-born American director Ang Lee's win of his second directing Oscar has sparked bittersweet feelings among Chinese audiences, who expressed their pride due to the director's Chinese roots, but couldn't help but reflect on why the Chinese mainland has failed to deliver more outstanding films to the world arena.
Lee, 58, on Sunday accepted the Academy Award for best director for Life of Pi, a 3D adventure-drama film.
Lee had won the top directing award in 2006 for Brokeback Mountain and the best foreign language film Oscar in 2001 for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Posts of congratulations poured in on China's social networking sites, immediately after the announcement of Lee's success.
Lee came to Hollywood's attention after directing three Chinese-language films in the early 1990s, with an emphasis on the interactions between modernity and Chinese traditions.
Some Web users called Lee "a source of pride for Chinese people," and commended him for bearing the torch of Chinese culture.
However, a large number of audience members and critics from the mainland expressed their frustrations over domestic movies.
Mainland filmmakers have made numerous ambitious tries for the prestigious award but never won.
Industry professionals have always blamed the strict censorship system imposed by the country's film watchdog for the unsatisfactory state of domestic movies.
Hao Jie, a young director whose 2010 film Single Man won the Special Jury Prize in the Tokyo Filmex Festival and numerous plaudits from critics but was never screened in the mainland for its depiction of complex sex lives in a village, sounded off on his frustrations.
"Due to the censorship, we are restrained from the beginning of our production, which forbids our works from mirroring genuine realities," Hao told the Global Times.
While acknowledging the system's role in undermining excellent works, Su Mu, a professor with Beijing Film Academy and well-known film critic, told the Global Times that the atmosphere in the mainland's film circle is also to blame.
Su argued that the film examination system in Iran, which is equally strict, did not stop Iranian filmmakers from producing good works.
"Lee produces his works with his heart, but most mainland directors now only have money in mind," commented Su, adding that the bad atmosphere is consistent with the overall situation of the society.
The mainland has already become the world's second-largest movie market, with moviegoers spending 17 billion yuan ($2.7 billion) on tickets last year.
Li An, a manager at a joint-venture cinema in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, told the Global Times an audience won't care about the ticket price if it finds a film interesting.
However, for young directors like Hao, it is still difficult for them to have their works shown to the public.
Though having obtained approval for his second film from the film authority, Hao said cinemas have kept delaying the screening of his work.
"This is another factor that prevents us from progressing. Cinemas won't risk showing our film, which features no stars and is deemed non-mainstream," complained Hao.
Acknowledging that his cinema lacks confidence in such works, Li said the only motivation for cinemas is to make money from the box office, noting the current environment is not mature for the mainland to introduce cinemas that only focus on art films and independent productions.