Chinese actress Zhou Dongyu, who was in Cannes with Anthony Chen's Un Certain Regard film The Breaking Ice, has a fairy tale career path. Despite her lack of desire to act, she was rescued from obscurity by Zhang Yimou while still a high school student in 2010 and became one of the most respected young actresses in China with a string of award-winning films. As soon as Chen called her and she agreed to appear in The Breaking Ice before she even wrote the script. She had previously worked with him on the short film The Break Away, which is part of the neon-produced anthology The Year Of The Everlasting Storm, which Chen directed remotely during the epidemic. "He called and said he wanted to shoot a movie in China pretty quickly over the winter, because a bear was free when another project was delayed," Zhou told Deadline. “I agreed right away because we both said we wanted to work on a feature together. He gave me the outline of the story and sent me a list of ten movies to watch.” The list included French New Wave classics, François Truffaut's Jules And Jim, and Jean-Luc Godard's Bande A Parte, which Chen says inspired The Breaking Ice. Liu Haoran and Qu Chuxiao also star in the film about three teenagers who drift together and bond over an alcoholic weekend in a small city in the frozen border region between China and North Korea. Critics praise the film as a candid portrait of China's Gen-Z, who often seems adrift and disillusioned with life, especially when compared to the boom times experienced by the previous generation. "We went from first phone call to very quickly," says Zhou, who previously worked with Liu on Zhang Ji's film Fire On The Plain , which premiered at the San Sebastian film festival. “Anthony was reviewing the script while we were , so it was a very spontaneous process. Sometimes we waited until midnight before for the final script.” None of them have worked with some of China's top filmmakers during her 13-year career, and Zhang's debut in Under The Hawthorn Tree won multiple awards, including Best Actress at Spain's Valladolid International Film Festival. He could not surpass Zhou in stages. and Best Actress at Taiwan's prestigious Golden Horse Awards for Derek Tsang's Soulmate . She also won Best Actress at both the Hong Kong Film Awards and Asian Film Awards for Tsang's Better Days, which was nominated for Best International Feature at the 2021 Oscars. China loves to divide its actors and filmmakers into generations and is known as one of the "Four Dan Actresses of the Post-90s Generation" along with Zhou, Yang Zi, Zheng Shuang and Guan Xiaotong. He was discovered by Zhang's team while taking a university entrance exam in Nanjing - one of his scouts asked him for a photo, and a few days later he received a phone call asking him to travel to Beijing. "I thought it might be a scam and was going to meet a scammer pretending to be a famous director, but I decided to go check it out anyway," says Zhou, who grew up in Shijiazhuang, the capital city of Hebei. The state, which is a short journey from Beijing. "Everyone else at the audition brought one person, but I was there with about five or six of my family." Her discovery by one of China's greatest directors certainly helped launch her career - Zhang is also credited with discovering big stars Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi - but not every actress he found went to find fame and praise. However, Zhou has forged her own path since her debut and stands out as a truly talented actress. She is known for portraying strong female characters and adding depth to roles, even in mainstream comedies where she can get away with just looking good. However, she has played quite complex characters in most of her movies. She has also worked with some of Greater China's leading female directors, such as Barbara Wong, Clara Law, and Rene Liu she. “I was lucky with the roles that were offered to me, but I also think there are many talented filmmakers in Chinese cinema, both male and female, who know how to write for female characters,” he observes. "I'm leaning towards more realistic stories and characters - roles that are meaningful and stay in mind long after the audience watches them, otherwise what's the point of making a movie?" She also says there's a new generation of young Chinese female filmmakers to watch out for, she says. Her upcoming films include Tainted Love, the debut feature film by Spanish-based Chinese female director Ma Yingxin. Already in post-production, the film contains a kind of trio in the story of a woman who moves to a small town and encounters two men who may have cheated her in a love scam before. "I love growing up with these talented young Chinese female directors," says Zhou. Among his upcoming films, more than a decade since he first discovered Zhang Yimou, a second trip with Zhang Yimou, the corruption-themed crime thriller Under The, one of many films stuck in China's local productions bottleneck, but expected to release later. Light is also included. year. "I'm really glad you want to work with me again and are looking forward to the upcoming movie," she says.