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Love (and marriage) with the proper stranger

WE know a lot about Western guys and Chinese girls. What happens when a French female student and a Chinese construction worker fall in love? Xu Wei watches the movie.

Love knows no nationality, and last year 2,626 "transnational" (Chinese and foreign) couples wed in Shanghai, according to the city's statistics bureau.

This kind of marriage can be complicated and very few domestic films have depicted these complex arrangements. Love affairs between Chinese women and Western men are quite common. Western girl meets Chinese guy is far less common.

"Love in Translation" is about the love and marriage of a French female student and a Chinese construction worker from Jiangsu Province. They meet in Shanghai. She loves his cooking.

It began screening nationwide last weekend.

During her stay in Shanghai to learn Chinese, French student Sophie meets migrant worker Huang Guilong and discovers he is an amazing cook. She asks him to teach her Chinese cooking.

Despite different cultures and habits, they have a lot in common and fall in love. Huang's family of traditional farmers is opposed, saying he won't be able to support her.

The lovers conquer all.

The film is directed by Liang Shan, winner of the Best Director award at the 27th Cairo International Film Festival for his movie "Father" (2003).

"The film shows how a connection between two strangers can grow into love," says moviegoer Caroline Liu. "Many people are curious about this kind of affair. The movie can give them some insight into different kinds of romance."

Hollywood actress Vanessa Branch, who is fluent in Chinese, plays French student Sophie. She starred in "Pirates of the Caribbean" (parts 1 and 2).

Migrant worker Huang is played by Shanghai-based actor Dong Xiang, who is not well-known.

"Though people from different countries have different understandings of love, nothing can stop true love," says Branch.

Most of the film was shot in Pudong, notably in Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park that showcases the city's rapid economic and social changes.

The small-budget film also employs amateur actors, including Liu Gang, a migrant worker who has been living in Shanghai for years.

Liu takes pride in his acting and singing, and says he is as versatile as CCTV Chinese New Year's Eve Gala Show star Xiao Shenyang, the apprentice and new partner of famed comedian Zhao Benshen. Liu's wife is from Myanmar and they are expecting a baby.

Wang Tianyun, vice president of Shanghai Film Group Corp, says small and moderate-budget films will be increasingly important in Chinese cinema.

This year's fare features real-life subjects.

"College Entrance Exams - 1977" tells the story of young people who try to fulfill their college dreams after the national entrance exam system was resumed in 1977. It will be released next month.

Shooting begins soon on "Lovely China," a biopic about Fang Zhimin, a heroic Chinese Communist military and political leader.

For screening details of "Love in Translation," in Chinese with English subtitles, check C7.


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