Celebrated Chinese Filmmaker Zhang Yimou accepts the Coolidge Award this week!

The Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, MA honors internationally-acclaimed director Zhang Yimou this week. The director will be on hand Wednesday, May 26 and Thursday, May 27 following a month of special screenings, panels, and seminars on his work and filmmaking in China.

The Coolidge Corner Theatre launched a newly established annual award to honor a selected film artist whose work advances the spirit of original and challenging filmmaking. The first Coolidge Award, as it is branded, will be given to Zhang Yimou. The Coolidge Award presented to Zhang includes a specially commissioned inscribed memento and an unrestricted cash award of $10,000.

Born in 1951 in Xi'an, The People's Republic of China, Zhang Yimou was first brought to the attention of worldwide audiences in 1987 with the release of his first feature, RED SORGHUM. The film, which starred rising actress Gong Li, won several international awards including the coveted Golden Bear Award at the Berlin International Film Festival. Zhang went on to make two subsequent films, JU DOU (1990) and RAISE THE RED LANTERN (1991 - #38 on the Chlotrudis 200 for 2000 list), also starring Gong Li and forming a trilogy which soared them both into an international spotlight.

The director made further headlines when JU DOU and RAISE THE RED LANTERN were banned from his homeland China, but enjoyed huge box office success in the U.S. and abroad. (RAISE THE RED LANTERN opened in the Boston area at the Coolidge Corner Theatre and was the theatre's highest grossing film to date at the time). Zhang's background as a graduate of the Beijing Film Academy in 1982, also secured him as a pivotal member of the significant film movement in China known as the "Fifth Generation." Along with other graduates of the Academy, such as Chen Kaige and Tian Zhuangzhuang, work from Fifth Generation filmmakers broke away from both revolutionary realism and revolutionary romanticism. Instead, this new school of filmmaking ventured into more realistic and human portraits of the Chinese way of life, its people and history. With the releases of such films as THE STORY OF QI JIU (1992), TO LIVE (1994), NOT ONE LESS (1999), THE ROAD HOME (2001), and the most recent HERO (2003, due for U.S. theatrical release this summer by Miramax Films), Zhang continues to challenge restricted notions of Chinese culture and creates a stunning revisionist cinematic aesthetic.

The Coolidge Award Ceremony takes place on Wendesday, May 26 at 8:00 p.m. at the theatre. The centerpiece of the Coolidge Award events, this gala evening toasts Zhang Yimou, who joins us for a rare personal appearance. Included in the ceremony are excerpts from Zhang Yimou's body of work, a live dance performance with choreographer Ling Chu, and an exhibition from Bow Sim Mark (one of the most respected and influential female martial arts teachers in the world and mother of HERO co-star Donnie Yen). Testimonials from filmmakers and scholars include film critic Charles Taylor and New York Film Festival program director Richard Pena. Don't miss this landmark event -- the presentation of the first Coolidge Award to Zhang Yimou, the world renowned and distinctive cinematic master.

Tickets are still available (and open to the public) at the Coolidge Box Office, 290 Harvard Street, Brookline, MA or by visiting www.coolidge.org. Admission is $25/general admission ($20 for Coolidge Members).