FOR many Chinese movie buffs, Xu Jinglei is a charming and sweet actress — full stop. But that’s a decade ago. Although she was hailed for her stunning figure and sweet smile on screen, Xu exoanded her acting career into directing, becoming one of the most successful female filmmakers in China.
Xu was the first female director in China with box-office earnings of more than 100 million yuan (US$15 million), for her 2010 film “Go Lala Go!”
Her directorial debut in 2003, a heartwarming film called “My Father and I” that tackled the delicate relationship between a Chinese father and his daughter, received widespread critical acclaim and won her a Golden Rooster for Best Directing Debut.
Her second directorial work, “Letter From an Unknown Woman,” was a romantic story based on the classic novel of Stefan Zweig that won her the Best New Director Award at the San Sebastian International Film Festival in Spain in 2004.
Her credits also include “Dreams May Come,” “Dear Enemy” and “Somewhere Only We Know.”
After two years’ absence, Xu will present her latest production, an action-packed cop thriller entitled “The Missing.” The movie is slated for release on April 1.
Starring mainland actress Bai Baihe, Taiwan singer Stanley Huang and Taiwan actor Ming Dow, the film is Xu’s first attempt at the crime genre.
She says that she was impressed so much by the film’s plot that she decided to make a crime film. It is a challenge for a female director whose former productions delicately talk about romance, family, dreams and career.
“Police film or crime film is not a genre particularly for male filmmakers,” she notes. “I am always ready to make new attempts in my life.
“I don’t really like to be restricted to my past and thoughts. New things and new challenges can bring me passion.”
The film tells the story of the mysterious case of a policewoman’s missing daughter. But the main suspect suffers memory loss after a car accident. Both he and the policewoman want to find out the truth.
Scenes of action, gun fights and violence feature in the movie. Xu’s female perspective is expected to give a sophisticated depiction of the characters’ complicated relationship.
She also co-stars with Huang Bo and Duan Yihong in Taiwan director Leste Chen’s fantasy film “Battle of Memories.” The film will be released around May.
Xu will produce an alien-themed online comedy series based on the popular online novel “My 200-Million-Year-Old Classmate.” She is also considering dabbling in animated films and series.
It seems that the director is always fueled by a heart of innocence and passion. She says that she will never stop trying new and interesting things. And she doesn’t want her works or herself to be stereotyped.
Born in Beijing and graduating from the Beijing Film Academy in 1997, Xu rose to fame with her acting in TV series and films, including “Spicy Love Soup,” “Spring Subway” and “I Love You.”
She is also versatile. In addition to film acting and directing, Xu is adept at calligraphy and she has a talent for crafts and fashion. She has made artistic bags, costumes and accessories. Some of the handmade works have been sold to raise money for charity.