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The Golden Era (film)

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The Golden Era
China poster
Directed byAnn Hui
Written byLi Qiang
Produced byQin Hong
Li Qiang (executive producer)
StarringTang Wei
Feng Shaofeng
CinematographyWang Yu
Release dates
  • 6 September 2014 (2014-09-06) (Venice)
  • 1 October 2014 (2014-10-01) (China)
Running time
179 minutes
Hong Kong
Budget¥70 million[1]
Box office¥51.49 million (China)

The Golden Era (Chinese: 黄金时代) is a 2014 Chinese-Hong Kong biographical drama film directed by Ann Hui, written and executive produced by Li Qiang and starring Tang Wei and Feng Shaofeng.[2][3] Tang portrays Xiao Hong, while Feng plays Xiao Jun, two of the most important writers of 20th century China.[4] Other notable characters portrayed include Lu Xun (played by Wang Zhiwen), Duanmu Hongliang (played by Zhu Yawen) and Ding Ling (played by Hao Lei).

The movie was screened out of competition at the 71st Venice International Film Festival.[5][6] It was selected as the Hong Kong entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards, but was not nominated.[7] The movie won Best Film and Best Director awards at the Hong Kong Film Awards.




Photo of Xiao Hong
Chinese literary writer Xiao Hong, the subject of The Golden Era.

The idea for the film dates back to 2004, when Ann Hui and Chinese screenwriter Li Qiang discussed their interest in penning a story involving early 20th Century writers Xiao Hong (the pseudonym for Zhang Naiying) and Ding Ling. Research made by Hui and Qiang raised concerns over the possible censorship from the government because of Ding Ling's open criticism of the Communist Party throughout her life. In 2007, Hui and Qiang decided to focus on Xiao Hong, after a suggestion from Beijing production company Cheerland Films, whose first project was Hui's The Postmodern Life of My Aunt.[8]

Although initially uninterested in Xiao Hong's work when she read them in the 1970s, Hui later reread her novels as part of better understanding the literary writer. Hui found it difficult to research Hong's own life due to the mystery that parts of her life were shrouded in, but remarked that the resulting screenplay for the film is “as close to the truth as we can get”.[9]


The Golden Era production cost ¥70 million and lasted five months, during which shooting took place on location in Harbin, Wuhan, and Shanghai.[1][9][10] Ann Hui would later describe the process of filming The Golden Era as making her “tense and nervous”, and playfully considered directing a comedy for her next film.[9][11] In addition to dramatizations, The Golden Era incorporates fictional narration, breaking the fourth wall, and faux-documentary interviews throughout the film, an unorthodox structure that gives it elements of experimental cinema.[12]


The Golden Era made its world premiere on September 6, 2014, at the 71st Venice International Film Festival, where it was shown out-of-competition and selected as the festival's closing film.[13] Hui's previous full-length directorial feature, A Simple Life, also premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2011, where it competed for the Golden Lion.[14] Shortly after its world premiere, The Golden Era made its North American premiere at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, placed under the Masters category and distributed by China Lion Film Distribution Inc.[15][16] The film continued to appear in other festivals, including the 27th Tokyo International Film Festival while making its first public release on October 1, 2014, in China.[17]

On October 17, 2014, The Golden Era was released in the U.S. in a limited run that comprised just 15 theaters over a span of 6 weeks.[18][19]

Home Media[edit]

Edko Films Ltd. (安樂影片) released The Golden Era on Blu-ray under Region A coding on January 28, 2015. This physical release includes an interactive photo gallery and a making-of featurette.[20][21]


Box office[edit]

The film had earned ¥51.49 million at the Chinese box office.[22] In its limited US release, The Golden Era earned $102,931 in 15 theaters.[19]

Critical reception[edit]

Lu Xun also appears in The Golden Era
Lu Xun is also depicted in the film, and played by Wang Zhiwen. His portrayal of Lu was critically praised.[23]

The Golden Era received mixed to positive reviews. Most reviews praised Ann Hui's direction and insightfulness into Xiao Hong's life, but criticized its running time and the loosely structured narrative. As of June 16, 2015, Rotten Tomatoes has given the film a 63% rating, compiled from five positive and three negative reviews. The average score from those reviews is 6/10.[24]

Marcus Goh of Yahoo! Movies Singapore praised the film for its depiction of Xiao Hong, calling The Golden Era a "powerful coming-of-age story".[25] Easternkicks.com's Andrew Heskins found that, though at times "overwhelming", complimented Ann Hui for "seeking to push her methods and styles of storytelling".[26] The Boston Herald's James Verniere applauded the film for its "epic telling" of Xiao Hong.[27] In contrast, Daniel M. Gold of The New York Times disliked the film's focus on the negative events of Hong's life, elaborating how this "unintentionally reduces her to a cliché — the starving young artist, done wrong by men — she surely would have rejected."[28]

The editing and experimental nature of The Golden Era was commented on by critics. The South China Morning Post's Yvonne Teh found its 179-minute running time and use of different filmmaking elements resulted in an "emotional distant" movie, simultaneously criticizing Tang Wei's portrayal of Xiao Hong.[29] With regards to its nonlinear narrative, Evelyn Kok of HK Magazine summated: "You can’t deny its masterful craft and intent, but it’s a portrait of a woman with her features all twisted and jumbled up."[30]

Montreal Gazette's Liz Ferguson found the film informative and applauded its visual aesthetics, but described how Chinese viewers familiar with Xiao Hong's life are more likely to enjoy the film and can "fill in the blanks so much better" than Western viewers.[31]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Award Category Recipient(s) Result
34th Hong Kong Film Awards[32]
Best Film Qin Hong Won
Best Director Ann Hui Won
Best Screenplay Li Qiang Nominated
Best Actress Tang Wei Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Hao Lei Nominated
Best Cinematography Wang Yu Won
Best Film Editing Manda Wai Nominated
Best Art Direction Zhao Hai Won
Best Costume & Makeup Design Man Lim Chung Won
Best Original Film Score Eli Marshall Nominated
9th Asian Film Awards[33]
Best Director Ann Hui Won
Best Actress Tang Wei Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Wang Zhiwen Won
Best Screenwriter Li Qiang Nominated
Best Editor Kwong Chi-leung & Manda Wai Nominated
51st Golden Horse Film Festival Awards[34]
Best Feature Film Qi Hong Nominated
Best Director Ann Hui Won
Best Leading Actress Tang Wei Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Hao Lei Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Li Qiang Nominated

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Kevin Ma (October 9, 2014). "China's National Day B.O. biggest on record". Film Business Asia. Archived from the original on October 14, 2014. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
  2. ^ "Trailer: Ann Hui's THE GOLDEN ERA Is A Tragedy Of Epic Proportions". Twitch Film. 2014-08-17. Archived from the original on 2014-08-19. Retrieved 2014-08-18.
  3. ^ "黄金时代The Golden Era (2014)". movie.mtime.com (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 2021-09-26. Retrieved 2014-01-30.
  4. ^ "Tang Wei's Appearance as 1930s Writer Unveiled". China Radio International. 2014-01-22. Archived from the original on January 30, 2014. Retrieved 2014-01-30.
  5. ^ "International competition of feature films". Venice. Retrieved 10 August 2014.
  6. ^ "Venice Film Festival Lineup Announced". Deadline. 24 July 2014. Retrieved 10 August 2014.
  7. ^ "Oscars: Hong Kong Nominates 'The Golden Era' in Foreign-Language Category". Hollywood Reporter. 16 September 2014. Retrieved 16 September 2014.
  8. ^ Liz Shackleton (4 October 2014). "Ann Hui, The Golden Era". Screen Daily. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  9. ^ a b c Arthur Tam (26 September 2014). "Interview: Ann Hui - The Golden Era". Time Out Hong Kong. Archived from the original on 18 June 2015. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  10. ^ Marzia De Giuli (6 September 2014). "Interview: HK director Ann Hui brings Chinese literature into Venice film festival". Shanghai Daily. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  11. ^ BACCARAT Hong Kong (30 April 2015). "Film: Ann Hui". Baccarat Magazine. Archived from the original on 18 June 2015. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  12. ^ "The Golden Era". Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  13. ^ "La Biennale di Venezia - Out of Competition". 23 November 2022.
  14. ^ "La Biennale di Venezia - Tao jie (A Simple Life)". 23 November 2022.
  15. ^ Giovanna Fulvi. "The Golden Era / Toronto International Film Festival / TIFF".
  16. ^ "TIFF: The Golden Era". Archived from the original on 2015-07-19. Retrieved 2015-06-17.
  17. ^ "27th Tokyo International Film Festival The Golden Era".
  18. ^ "AMC Theatres: The Golden Era".
  19. ^ a b "The Golden Era(2014) - Weekend Box Office Results - Box Office Mojo".
  20. ^ "YESASIA: The Golden Era (2014)(Blu Ray)".
  21. ^ "The Golden Era Blu-ray (Hong Kong)".
  22. ^ 黄金时代 (2014). www.cbooo.cn (in Chinese). Retrieved December 1, 2014.
  23. ^ Jay Seaver (19 October 2014). "Movie Review - Golden Era, The - eFilmCritic". eFilmCritic. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  24. ^ "The Golden Era (2014) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  25. ^ Marcus Goh (23 October 2014). "Review: The Golden Era is a powerful coming-of-age story". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  26. ^ Andrew Heskins (25 February 2015). "The Golden Era 黄金时代 film review". Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  27. ^ James Verniere (17 October 2014). "Golden' shines as biopic of writer". Boston Herald. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  28. ^ Daniel M. Gold (16 October 2014). "'The Golden Era,' a Biopic on the Novelist Xiao Hong". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  29. ^ Yvonne Teh (25 September 2014). "Film review: The Golden Era, a biopic of Zhang Naiying (Xiao Hong), lacks humanity". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  30. ^ Evelyn Kok (1 October 2014). "The Golden Era movie review 2014-10-01 HK Magazine". HK Magazine. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  31. ^ Liz Ferguson (30 October 2014). "Cine Files: The Golden Era portrays short life of Chinese novelist Xiao Hong". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  32. ^ "Winner List of The 34th Hong Kong Film Awards". Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  33. ^ "9th AFA Nominees and Winners". Archived from the original on 29 March 2015. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  34. ^ "2015 台北金馬影展 Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival". Retrieved 17 June 2015.

External links[edit]