Actress He Saifei Looks Forward to Jury Work in Australia

September 21, 2017
Editor: Yang Yang
Brisbane Mayor Graham Quirk (left) presented a Koala toy gift to He Saifei. [China Daily]


Film actress He Saifei has been associated with Yueju Opera, one of China's most prominent art forms with a history of more than a century.

Earlier this month, she was named a jury member for the 2017 Asia Pacific Screen Awards, an event that honors movie talent from the Asia-Pacific region.

Filipino writer-director Adolfo Alix Jr. and Kazakh director-cinematographer Adilkhan Yerzhanov were also named alongside He as the first three international members of the awards jury.

The five-member international jury-with two others yet to be announced-will determine the winners in each of the awards' seven categories, including the best feature film, achievement in directing and the best actor and actress. The awards will be announced in Brisbane, Australia, on November 23.

"The awards are well-known to Chinese filmmakers. I am glad and privileged to serve as a jury member," He, 54, says after attending a felicitation ceremony in Beijing.

The annual APSA event was launched in Brisbane in 2007.

Over the past decade, more than 200 Chinese movies have joined the competitions, and nearly 100 Chinese nominees, winners and jury members have been inducted into the APSA Academy. Celebrated winners include Zhang Ziyi for Grandmaster (2013) and Chen Daoming for Aftershock (2010).

Her interview with China Daily is interrupted many times by the Australian film industry insiders, who ask for photos with the Chinese actress or praise her beauty. Their enthusiasm makes her remember her last journey to Australia to attend the 3rd China Australia International Film Festival in 2016.

She won the best actress award at the festival in Brisbane in October for Goddesses in the Flames of War. In it, she plays the role of a woman who suffers in the Japanese invasion of China during World War II.

"Brisbane is such a beautiful city. When I got up early one morning, I was enthralled by the beautiful scenery. I am excited to return to Australia again," she says.

The job of a member of the awards jury will be tough as she will spend a lot of time watching the shortlisted movies and give her reviews. But cinema has been a lifelong love for the actress.

Her career took off as a performer in the prestigious Zhejiang Xiaobaihua Yue Opera Troupe in the early 1980s.

Most Chinese opera fans were impressed with her role as the loyal female helper Cuiyun in the award-winning Yueju Opera film Wu Nyu Bai Shou (Five Daughters Celebrate Their Father's Birthday, 1984) and the Buddhist nun Miaoyu in the movie Dream of the Red Chamber (1986).

Her fame on the big screen grew after she played the role of a concubine in Zhang Yimou's Raise the Red Lantern that was nominated for the Oscars in 1992. She also worked with some top Chinese directors, such as Chen Kaige for Temptress Moon (1994) and Ang Lee for his award-winning Lust, Caution (2007).

"It was arguably the best time for Chinese filmmakers. Back then, all the actors and actresses concentrated on acting. We hardly cared about the pay or the length of shooting. A movie was shot for at least six months back then, but now most movies merely take one or two months on filming," says He.

She says she cherishes the old days but hopes Chinese filmmakers will produce more classic films in the future.

(Source: China Daily)

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