Born in Beijing in 1952, Chen is the son Chen Huaikai a veteran filmmaker. Obliged to postpone his high-school education because of the Cultural Revolution in 1966, his career in filmmaking doesn't begin until 1978 when he is accepted into the newly reopened Beijing Film Academy. From there he is able to associate himself with a young and talented group of students, such as Tian Zhuangzhuang, Zhang Yimou and Wu Ziniu, with whom he forms the "Fifth Generation" of Chinese directors. His first film, Yellow Earth, is an international success. He then directs The Big Parade and The King of Children which is screened at the Cannes Festival in 1988 as part of the Official Selection. That same year he moves to the United States where he lectures at New York University. In 1990 he returns to China in order to direct China's first co-production (Japan-France-Great Britain-Germany), Life on a String also in competition at the Cannes Festival. That same year, Chen publishes his memoirs. In 1993 he directs Farewell My Concubine which earns him the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Festival and a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film, as well as being nominated at the Academy Awards. In 1996 he directs Temptress Moon, starring Gong Li. He is now finishing his seventh film, Chi'In.
Films presented at Cannes