Chinese film honors in Beijing honor ‘Mai Mai Miracle,’ ‘Monster Hunt 2’

Inland Film Awards, a Chinese-language “Oscars” where films competed for audience and jury awards, were handed out Friday. The winners included the feature film festival award which went to the documentary “The Wall.”

Directed by filmmaker Babak Anvari, the film concerns students at a Chinese university. As the students plot a revenge suicide, a narrative thread brings them to the case of an American soldier mistakenly executed in the 1960s.

A shared Best Documentary Screenplay prize was awarded to “Mai Mai Miracle” and “Ghostwriter.” That movie is based on the story of British author Sebastian Barry’s half-brother who, after the death of his mother, found his heritage with the help of a close friend.

“Monster Hunt 2” won the audience award. The animated film is produced by Gui Minhai, the controversial Hong Kong film producer who was abducted from Thailand in 2014 and is believed to be held against his will in mainland China. Gui is a member of the Dolphin Films and KG Film groups, which have bankrolled many of the films produced by KG Film and Dolphin Films.

KG Films, run by Kobby Kwan, has in the past employed Gui, including in the production of 2013’s “The Grandmaster,” one of the highest grossing Chinese language films at the time.

The outstanding achievement award went to a graduate student. It was presented to Zheng Xiaoding for the short film “Cosmos,” which he completed while attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.

Gui, who is expected to be officially charged with extortion, took part in a Q&A with the students at the Beijing Film Academy in the early 2000s.

“Monster Hunt 2” won two Chinese language film awards: best overall film and best film of the year.

As Hollywood’s success in the Chinese box office continued in 2018, the number of films competing for the top film prize grew by 15 to 30 last year. Four were produced by Manda Lau’s Icon Pictures, two were produced by KG Film, one by Wanda Film and eight were produced by Huayi Brothers.

The Hong Kong film market is seen as a crucial one for Hollywood. China spent about $10 billion at the domestic box office in 2018, while the gap between the U.S. and China is roughly the same, an imbalance that Hollywood hopes to reverse as it tries to break into China.

A recent Academy Awards ceremony was held in mainland China and hosted by Charlie Wee.

Fox News’ Matt Dean and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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