Producers, directors and actors ‘excited’ for first Golden Panda Awards
Winners to be unveiled at Chengdu gala
Published: Sep 19, 2023 10:13 PM
Guests for the Golden Panda Awards take photos of a baby giant panda at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, on September 19, 2023. Photo: Xu Liuliu/GT

Guests for the Golden Panda Awards take photos of a baby giant panda at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, on September 19, 2023. Photo: Xu Liuliu/GT

The final results of the first Golden Panda Awards will be unveiled at a gala on Wednesday night. Twenty-five cute gold panda statuettes are set to find their owners soon. Producers, directors, actors, and jury members from around the world are not only excited to witness history with the winners of the first-ever Golden Panda Awards but also anticipate more exchanges and cooperation to take place in Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan Province.   

"The first Golden Panda Awards can grow steadily, step by step, and I am looking forward to its future development," renowned US figure Andre Morgan told the Global Times on Tuesday while participating in the Hi Panda Tour at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, also home to hundreds of China's cute national "idols."

Morgan has been to the Shanghai International Film Festival, Beijing International Film Festival, and Xi'an Film Festival, as he has been working on co-productions for nearly five decades, including the Hong Kong movie Perhaps Love with director Peter Chan. The world "needs cooperation and people-to-people exchanges," and films and TV series can serve as such a bridge.

In his view, every country needs to learn about the customs, culture, and history of other nations. "Let's put it simply, exchanges and communication platforms like the Golden Panda Awards are essential. Share what you need and what your country needs with your partners," he said.

Film studio bosses, producers, or directors need to do research, "getting to know your audiences, culture, history, and their favorite films and TV series."

Chengdu's uniqueness, with its "old flavor, culture, and history," provides it with "opportunities and advantages to become the capital of co-productions." 

The world can share with the "hardworking, open-minded, and ambitious" Chinese film industry through "honest communication and exchanges that introduce Chinese culture and tell good Chinese stories."

Swiss cinematographer Silvan Hillmann has made it to the finals for the Best Cinematography award with his film Unrest. He emphasized that dialogues and exchanges are important in order for the world to get to know each other. "Cooperation" was a term he mentioned frequently during his interview with the Global Times.

Chinese actress Gong Zhe is among the five finalists for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance in the movie Island Keeper, alongside Sigourney Weaver in Call Jane, Tilda Swinton in Memory, Penelope Cruz in Parallel Mother, and Yllka Gashi in Hive

The story of Wang Jicai and his wife Wang Shihua, portrayed by Gong, who lived on Kaishan Island in Guanyun county, East China's Jiangsu Province, and devoted their lives to national coastal defense, has touched millions of cinema audiences. They had both relocated to the island after Wang Jicai became the head of the militia sentry post there.

As an outpost in China's Yellow Sea, Kaishan Island measures only 0.013 square kilometers, about the size of two football fields, and living conditions are harsh. The Wangs lived and worked there for over three decades until Wang Jicai passed away from an illness at the age of 58 in July 2018. Following his death, Wang Shihua applied to take over her husband's duties.

"She is one of millions of Chinese women with good virtues. It must be Wang Shihua's promise toward her husband that moved the judges and international audiences. She said, 'You guard the island, and I accompany you; you guard the country, and I guard the family,'" Gong told the Global Times in Chengdu on Tuesday.

This helped the audience connect with the love and inner world of the Wangs, as well as their noble commitment and belief that "guarding the island is protecting the country."

"It is a shared universal feeling and emotions about family and motherland. No one can resist that strong empathy," she further explained.

In the eyes of director Zhang Yimou, the winner of the Berlin Golden Bear Prize and Venice Golden Lion Prize, and the president of the jury for this year's Golden Panda Awards, outstanding productions transcend boundaries and cultures, becoming a bridge.

"Good works are always a bridge. People all over the world appreciate art, value good things, and are inspired by enlightening works," he said in a video interview.

Hosted by the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles and the Sichuan Provincial Government, the Golden Panda Awards will be held every two years and be permanently based in Sichuan. The First Golden Panda Awards will cover four categories: film, TV series, documentaries, and animated works.