Sun Zhou

b. 1954, Shandong
Cinematographer, film director, actor
Sun began his film career as the cinematographer for the Shandong Agricultural Film Studio which propelled him to the Beijing Film Academy and a degree in directing. His early work for the Shandong Provincial Television Station included the prize-winning series Wu Song, Wreath on the Soldier’s Tomb and A Blizzard Comes Tonight. The first feature film he directed (Add Sugar to Your Coffee, 1987) was nominated for China’s Golden Rooster Award, but it was Heartstrings (1992) that earned him international acclaim, winning awards both domestically and overseas (Hawaii and Montreal Film Festivals). Thereafter, he suffered a frustrating eight-year drought, when none of his scripts cleared the Film Bureau and he supported himself by making commercials. In 1994, he was scholar-in-residence at the Stuttgart Film College in Germany, and in 1997 was lured back to the Chinese film world with a supporting role in Chen Kaige’s The Emperor and the Assassin. On the set, actress Gong Li persuaded him to develop and direct a film specifically for her.
The result was Breaking the Silence (Piaoliang Mama, 2000), featuring Gong as the single mother of a deaf child in a China moving from state control to private enterprise. Nearly a quarter of the director’s cut was excised for political content, leaving only the mother—son story. The film showed in Berlin, won Best Actress in Montreal, the NETPAC award in Hawaii, and numerous awards domestically. Sun’s recent opus, Zhou Yu de huoche (2002), again showcases Gong Li.
Chen, Lora (2000). ‘Breaking the Silence: Sun Zhou’ (review). Cineyama 50 (Winter).

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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