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Zhou Dongyu Talks Cannes Title ‘The Breaking Ice’, Roles For Chinese Actresses & Being Discovered By Zhang Yimou

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Chinese actress Zhou Dongyu, who is in Cannes with Anthony Chen’s Un Certain Regard title The Breaking Ice, has had a fairytale career trajectory.

Although she had no desire to act, she was plucked from obscurity by Zhang Yimou when still a high school student in 2010, and became one of China’s most respected young actresses, with a string of award-winning films.

She agreed to star in The Breaking Ice as soon as Chen called her and before he’d even written the script. She’d worked with him before on short film The Break Away, part of Neon-produced anthology The Year Of The Everlasting Storm, which Chen had directed remotely during the pandemic.  “He called and said he wanted to shoot a film in China, quite quickly over the winter, because he had a month free when another project was postponed,” Zhou tells Deadline. “I agreed immediately because we’d both said we wanted to work on a feature together.

He told me the basic outline of the story and sent me a list of ten films to watch.” The list included French New Wave classics, Jules And Jim by Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard’s Bande A Parte, both films that Chen says inspired The Breaking Ice.

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