The cover of Impressions of China: Life of Zhang Yimou (Photo: china.org.cn)
"We have enough evidence to show that the book, Life of Zhang Yimou is a serious infringement of rights. Zhang Yimou has instructed a lawyer to prepare a case against the book's author and publisher," said Ping Xue, a public relations manager at Zhang's employer, Beijing New Picture Film Company, on November 24. It is the first lawsuit the director has initiated in his 20-year career.
Zhang's lawyer, Tong Jie, confirmed the information. She said Zhang was deeply irritated after reading the book. The book contains groundless gossip about Zhang's family and about a love affair, and seriously violates Zhang's privacy. The lawyer said that her month-long investigation demonstrated that the book's sources were the public media and the Internet, not any figures that the book relates to. Even Zhang's autograph on the book's cover is counterfeit, she points out. The lawyer said that after collecting evidence on the behalf of Zhang Yimou, she would probably initiate the lawsuit in middle or late December.
The biography, Impressions of China: Life of Zhang Yimou was penned by Huang Xiaoyang and published by Huaxia Publishing Co., Ltd. Launched on August 9, immediately after the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony directed by Zhang, the book was an instant hit. It recounts a love affair between the director and actress Gong Li, who has appeared in eight of Zhang's movies, including Red Sorghum, Raise the Red Lantern and Curse of the Golden Flower . It also describes how the affair led to the breakup of Zhang's marriage.
Reportedly, the publisher has got wind of the lawsuit it is likely to face. A manager admitted that the book was not authorized by the director and said the company would like to talk with Zhang Yimou to seek a peaceful settlement of the case. It could edit the book and delete details about Zhang's private life if the director agrees, the manager said.
(China.org.cn November 27, 2008)