SHANGHAI, Feb. 18 -- The Chinese movie that won a top European prize recently has drawn the world's attention to the Chinese film industry.
"Black Coal, Thin Ice", directed by Diao Yinan about a washed-up former cop investigating a series of murders took first prize at the Berlin International Film Festival on Saturday and is the fourth movie from the Chinese mainland to win the "Golden Bear" after Xiefei's "Women from the Lake of Scented Souls" in 1993, Zhang Yimou's "Red Sorghum" in 1988, and Wang Quan'an's "Tuya's Marriage" in 2007.
Lead actor Liao Fan, who plays the detective, scooped the Silver Bear for Best Actor, the first Chinese actor do so.
Zhou Xing, dean of the school of arts and communication at Beijing Normal University, considers the participation of Chinese movies in the festival this year "encouraging". Their record at international film festivals has been patchy at best in recent years. It had been a bleak season for pure art house films in China.
China's domestic film market has continued to break new ground. In 2013, box office receipts were almost 22 billion yuan (3.6 billion U.S.dollars), with domestic films making about 13 billion yuan, up over 50 percent.
The industry has been widely criticized for giving too much importance to box office and not enough to artistic value. Director Karwai Wong, who was jury president at Berlin last year, reckons that more patience is needed.
"The art of film has a developing cycle, and it takes at least three years, or five years, even ten years, to have a masterpiece. We have to wait," he said.
Observers consider that "Black Coal, Thin Ice" bridges the gap between art house and multiplex elements. Diao Yinan, director of the film believes that Chinese productions have matured in recent years, as art and commercial films learn from each other.
The script of "Black Coal, Thin Ice" was one of 20 projects funded by China Film Private Capital(CFPC), which helps directors enter the international market. Established in 2007 at the Shanghai International Film Festival, CFPC helps use private capital to support young directors gain exposure in the West.
"Private investment in film has been encouraged and we can expect more brilliant works combining both artistic and commercial values in the near future," said Fu Wenxi of the Shanghai festival.
Fu hopes that the success of "Black Coal, Thin Ice" will encourage film-makers, despite the current shallow market.
During the lunar New year holiday in 2013, movies grossed 760 million yuan with 19.25 million people going to the cinema. Both figures set historical records.