Gong Li to star in biopic of Chinese volleyball icon Lang Ping

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Gong Li

Gong Li, who was to receive the Kering Group’s annual Women in Motion award Sunday at the Cannes Film Festival in France, has signed on to star in a biopic directed by Peter Chan about Chinese volleyball legend Lang Ping.

The film, produced by Chan’s We Pictures and Beijing-based JQ Pictures, is targeting a major China theatrical release timed to the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Nicknamed the “Iron Hammer” in her playing days, Lang is regarded one of the sport’s greatest players. Lang captained the Chinese women’s national volleyball team that won the gold medal over the U.S. at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. As a coach, he led the U.S. national team to a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the Chinese national team to a gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

She remains the only person, male or female, to have won an Olympic gold as both a player and a coach.

The film doesn’t yet have a title in English, and its Chinese working title translates to just “Chinese Women’s Volleyball.” The project is scheduled to go into production soon, and the director is reportedly casting several active professional Chinese volleyball players to play key roles.

Variety reports that Li was to become the first person of Asian descent to win the Kering Group and Cannes Film Festival’s annual Women in Motion award. The prize was to be presented by Kering’s chairman and CEO Francois-Henri Pinault and the festival’s president Pierre Lescure and general delegate Thierry Fremaux at a dinner on Sunday.

The award is intended to celebrate the careers of leading female figures in cinema, and has previously been presented to Jane Fonda in 2015, Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon in 2016, Isabelle Huppert in 2017 and Patty Jenkins in 2018.

Making films is fundamental in my life, and I am most grateful to be able to continue to share my work and my passion,” Gong said.

The star of Disney’s upcoming live-action remake of “Mulan” also is known for her starring role in films such as Zhang Yimou’s “Red Sorghum,” “Raise the Red Lantern” and “To Live,” and Chen Kaige’s “Farewell My Concubine,” which won the Palme d’Or in 1993.

She served as jury president of the 50th Berlin International Film Festival, 59th Venice International Film Festival, 16th Tokyo International Film Festival, 17th Shanghai International Film Festival and 55th Golden Horse Awards, as well as a jury member of the 50th Cannes Film Festival.



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