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Lou Ye was born in 1965 in Shanghai. He studied Animation at Shanghai Art School and subsequently took up a position at the Shanghai Art Film Studio. His first short films were developed at the Direction Department of the Beijing Film Academy; including "Driving Without Licence" (1987) and "Earphone" (1989).

It took three years of preparation to make his feature film debut "Weekend Lover" (1993), which received an award at the 45th International Film Festival of Mannheim-Heidelberg in 1996 – the Rainer Werner Fassbinder Prize for Best Director –, although it was banned by the Chinese censors for two years. With his second feature film "Don't Be Young" (1995), Lou Ye, together with nine other young Chinese directors, contributed a feature-length episode to the ten-part series Super City, a production commissioned by Chinese television. He received international recognition with his film "Suzhou River" (1999), which recounts the story, in poetic images, of the people in the poorest quarter of Shanghai not far from the river Suzhou. The film received several awards at international film festivals, such as the VPRO Tiger Award at the 29th International Film Festival of Rotterdam, the Grand Prix at the 15th International Film Festival in Paris, and the FIPRESCI Prize at the Viennale. This film was also banned by the Chinese censors and has still not been shown in China. While the Chinese government imposed a year's work ban on Lou Ye, "Suzhou River" accrued world-wide cinematic success in 38 countries. The fascination of Shanghai with its mix of wealth and poverty, beauty and ugliness is also portrayed in Lou Ye's "In Shanghai" (2001). Lou Ye's portrait of Shanghai is a personal homage to the contradictory Chinese city. Lou Ye creates a montage of pictures of capitalist prosperity alongside its side-effects, with an intimate insight into the lives of the anonymous inhabitants; a faceless crowd which trawls through rubbish dumps for food or rushes home from work. The film was commissioned by the International Film Festival of Rotterdam, for its "seaports" theme. "In Shanghai" was shown at the International Short Film Festival at Oberhausen as well as at other festivals.

During his 2004/2005 stay in Berlin, Lou Ye worked mainly on the screenplay for his new film "Summer Palace" – a love story that extends over ten years, six cities and two continents, beginning in the Imperial Summer Palace in Beijing and visiting Berlin, among other places. "Summer Palace" was screened in the competition at the Cannes Film Festival 2006.

Filmography (selection)
Driving without licence (short film, 16mm) 1987
Earphone (short film, 16mm) 1989
Weekend Lover (feature film, 96 min, colour) 1993
Don't be young (feature film) 1995
Suzhou River (feature film, 83 min, colour) 1999
In Shanghai (short film) 2001
Purple Butterfly (feature film, 127 min, colour) 2003
Summer Palace (feature film, 140 min, colour) 2005
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