Leap: Sports Biopic Starring Gong Li, China’s Entry for Best International Feature

Oscars: China Selects Peter Chan’s ‘Leap’ for International Feature Category


Peter Chan - H 2019
Courtesy of Getty Images

China has picked Peter Chan’s biographical sports drama Leap to represent the country at next year’s Oscar race in the international feature category.

The film follows the travails and triumphs of China’s women’s national volleyball team over a period of more than 40 years. Gong Li stars as legendary player-turned-coach Lang Ping, a member of the Chinese squad that won a Gold Medal over the United States at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. As a coach, she would later lead the Chinese team to gold medal glory at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Leap‘s cast also includes ten out of the 12 Olympic Gold medalists from China’s 2016 team appearing as themselves. Chinese leading man Huang Bo co-stars as Chen Zhonghe, who coached China’s team from 2001-2009.

Produced by Lian Ray Pictures and Huanxi Media, Leap was originally scheduled to release during China’s usually lucrative Lunar New Year holiday in January, but those plans were waylaid by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The film ended up not being able to open until the National Day holiday in late September. It went on to earn a healthy $127 million.

Leap has already received its share of honors at home in China. Just last weekend, the film won the prize for best feature at China’s state-backed Golden Rooster Film Festival and Awards.

Chan, a Hong Kong film industry veteran, has won numerous prizes at Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards (The Warlords, 2008) and the Hong Kong Film Awards (Comrades: Almost a Love Story, 1999). His 2005 film Perhaps Love was submitted for Oscars consideration on behalf of Hong Kong but failed to make the shortlist.

China has submitted films for consideration in the best foreign-language category since 1979. The country has won just two nominations, both for films directed by Zhang Yimou, Ju Dou (1990) and Hero (2002).

The nominations for the 93rd Academy Awards will be announced on March 13, 2021. The winners’ ceremony will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on April 25, 2021.