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AIDS film wins Oscar
Shanghai Daily  |  February 27, 2007  |  By Xu Wei

ASSESSING the scant entries associated with China, Academy Award voters were unimpressed with Zhang Yimou's latest kung fu blockbuster. But they were moved by an exploration of a blood-sale scandal that ravaged Anhui Province villages with AIDS.

Chinese-American Ruby Yang won the Oscar for best documentary short subject for her film, "The Blood of Yingzhou District," at the 79th Academy Awards in Hollywood Sunday night.

Yang and producer Thomas Lennon expressed their gratitude to those who offered support throughout the one-year production process as well as the heroes of the anti-AIDS campaign.

The 39-minute documentary film centers on the lives of AIDS orphans in remote villages of Anhui Province. Many of their parents died of AIDS infection from selling their blood and receiving tainted blood in return.

One of the chief subjects of the film, a child named Gao Jun, faces discrimination and rejection from his surviving relatives. He does not speak a word until the closing minutes of the documentary. Little is known about him, not even his age, yet this young AIDS orphan finally reveals his fierce resolve to live.

Just weeks before the award ceremony, Yang told Shanghai Daily that she was thrilled with the Oscar nomination, but the battle against the disease is far from over.

"We will still do more work on AIDS awareness," she said in the inteview. "Until there's a cure for AIDS, public education is the main tool that we have."

The Hong Kong-born filmmaker Yang emigrated to the United States about 20 years ago and has explored a range of Chinese themes in documentaries and television programs.

Yang is now based in Beijing, where she directs public service announcements and a wide range of documentaries with the award-winning producer Lennon as part of the China AIDS Media Project.

The Oscar-winning documentary was shown during a film festival last June in the United States. Yang said earlier that she was in talks with Chinese television networks for a domestic release soon. DVD versions with English subtitles are available locally.

Meanwhile, veteran director Zhang's action film "Curse of the Golden Flower" lost in the competition for best costume design.