The Most Persistent Filmmaker: Xiaomin (Demi) Zhang

The life of Xiaomin (Demi) Zhang, as a performing arts worker to today’s magnificent filmmaker.

At age 15, she broke the province’s high jump record. At age 17, she starred in first film debut as leading actress. At age 24, she won the 10th annual “Popular Film Hundred Flowers Award” for Best Supporting Actress. It seems that Demi is able to do anything she puts her heart to. Now, she has immigrated to Canada, and is continuing her film career. From famous actress, to now, honorable educator and principal of the Canadian Film and Television Academy, her confidence and dedication is still as charming as ever.

Born for Film

Xiaomin (Demi) Zhang, famous 80’s Chinese film actress, was borne to a military family. Growing up with an independent personality, she did not choose the same path as her sister. After graduation from middle school, she joined the Qinghai athletic team. She did not waste any time in the athletic team, she built a strong physique and developed a firm determination. She was also the star of the team, successively breaking provincial high jump records, becoming the province’s only pentathlon athlete. Although she was a successful athlete, this was not what she was interested in.

Whether you believe it or not, at the age of 4, Demi was already determined to become an actress. Her original wish was to become a ballet actress, but due to her athletic experiences, her physiques did not meet the requirements of a ballet actress. In 1979, she had the opportunity to audition as a theatrical actress; this was her setting stone to the world of performance. This was also where she met You Ge, they became great partners and the best of friends. They were known as the “match made by heaven” in the Chinese drama industry.

At that time, she still thought that being a film actress was only a luxury and distant dream. Her dream started coming true when a director approached her to be the leading actress in his upcoming film.

Though she already had more filming experiences than her peers, she was still unsatisfied. In 1982, to enrich her artistic accomplishment, she decided to enroll into the Beijing Film Academy’s Acting department. Here, she, along with her classmates, finally began their real dream.

From the conversations with Demi, you can feel her appreciation and respect for the Beijing Film Academy. She possesses the spirit and pride of the Beijing Film Academy.

After graduation from the Beijing Film Academy, she starred in over ten film productions. Winning the 10th annual “Popular Film Hundred Flowers Award” for Best Supporting Actress, she was at the peak of her career. In 3 years, she had been featured on the “Popular Film” covers over 7 times.

Any would describe her career as successful, but she was still unsatisfied. Compared to her father, her achievements were only minimal. She also found that all the film, which she starred in were not roles that she wanted to play. So after the filming of The Song Sisters concluded, she also concluded her career of as a film actress. She began reading novels, in search of the film dream that she loves.

In the 1990’s, Demi decided to become a director, shooting the films that she likes. From 1990 to 1993, after many hardships, her film, Punch, was finally released. This highly influential film broke three of Chinese’s film records: the youngest female director (age 26), over 90% of the actors are not full-time actors, and is the most highly invested entertainment piece, at investment of $2 million RMB.

Afterwards, she directed another film, Chi Jia, wining the Spain Ourense Film Festival’s Best Film Award and other special recognition awards.

Filmography

Actress (5 credits)
The Offense       1992
Shen Li
A Tan nei zhuan   1988
Xiuyun
Hei se de you huo     1986
Huang Qili
 Du Juan sheng sheng     1983
Da Huan
Director (1 credit)
 The Offense    1992
Writer (1 credit)
The Offense (screenplay)     1992