Qiu Yang Becomes First Chinese Director To Win Short Film Palme d’Or

“F#cking amazing!” the 28-year-old director said in what Cannes organizers described as the “shortest acceptance speech ever heard at the Cannes Festival.”

Director Qiu Yang became the first Chinese filmmaker to win the prestigious Palme d’Or for best short film at the 70th Cannes Film Festival awards on Sunday.

The 28-year-old director won the award with A Gentle Night, a 15-minute short film about a mother searching for her missing daughter on the eve of the Lunar New Year in a small Chinese town.

“F#cking amazing,” the  28-year-old filmmaker, said in accepting the award in a two-word thank you Cannes organizers described as “the shortest acceptance speech ever heard at the Cannes Festival.”

A Gentle Night takes place in Qiu’s native Changzhou city in Jiangsu province, just north of Shanghai. Born to an artistic family, Qiu studied film at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne, Australia.

“My team and I, we never expected we were going to get into the festival so we never prepared anything and when we received the email — the acceptance email we thought ‘Holy sh#t, what are we going to do? Liu said at a press conference in Cannes on Sunday after receiving the award.

“It’s not the best experience for a director to watch a film with the audience, you always get nervous and don’t know what to expect,” Qiu said at the press conference.

“It was actually the first time I saw the film since I finished it because we had a lot of trouble making the film. It was so traumatic that after we finished it I didn’t watch it at all until two days ago.”

In 2015, Qiu’s Victorian College of the Arts master’s degree graduation film Under the Sun competed in the Cannes Film Festival’s section for student films, Cinefondation.

The young filmmaker is currently writing a feature-length version of that film while he’s based in Paris, France.

“I’m hoping to shoot it at maybe the end of next year if I can get the money to shoot it,” Qiu said.

— Additional reporting Belinda Zhang.