Yimou Zhang

One of the most acclaimed Chinese filmmakers of the late 20th century, award-winning director Zhang Yimou produced a series of intensely moving period dramas about the political and emotional inequalities suffered by women in Chinese history, including "Ju Do" (1990), "Raise the Red Lantern" (1992) and "To Live" (1994) before scoring international hits with the martial arts thrillers "Hero" (2002) and "House of Flying Daggers" (2004). Part of China's acclaimed "Fifth Generation" of filmmakers, whose work flew in the face of government control over how movies were made, Zhang emerged as the most successful of the group, thanks to his early dramas which all featured the sensuous actress Gong Li as their long-suffering but resolute heroines. After a brief fallow period in the late 1990s, Zhang emerged again with "Hero," a lavishly expensive historical epic with martial arts star Jet Li in its lead. Its phenomenal success allowed Zhang to move between major efforts like "House of Flying Daggers" and "Curse of the Golden Flower" (2006) and smaller fare like "A Woman, A Gun and a Noodle Shop" (2009), a screwball adaptation of "Blood Simple" (1984). "The Flowers of War" (2011) marked his return to grand scale filmmaking, as well as his commitment to telling honest stories about the lives of people under oppression, both from their circumstances and from within their hearts.