To the majority of Chinese TV fans who tuned into the award ceremony of the 18th Shanghai TV Festival on June 15, the show was on the Best Actor and Best Actress of the year more than anything else. They had voted their favorite celebs on Youku.com and witnessed the numbers grow in real time. Sitting in front of TV, they anticipated the results with eagerness-cum-certainty. But the announcements surprised millions. The jury for the TV Series section of STVF 2012 proved to be no crowd-pleaser when it came to selecting the winners.
First I want to apologize for mistaking how the winners for Best TV Series, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Actress were determined. Though votes were taken seriously by both the people and the media, the jury still had the final say on who deserved a prize.
In the case of Best Actor and Actress, Nicky Wu and Shishi Liu, with 221 and 208 million votes respectively, were most popular among the nominees, but the jury chose otherwise.
- Gold Award: Cliff or Xuan Ya
- Silver Award: Indelible Designation or Yong Bu Mo Mie De Fan Hao
- Special Contribution Award: Rural Woman Xiaomai to the Metropolis or Xiaomai Jin Cheng
- Best Director: Xiaolong ZHENG for Empresses in the Palace or Zhen Huan Zhuan
- Best Screenplay: Cliff or Xuan Ya
- Best Actor: Haibo HUANG for Indelible Designation or Yong Bu Mo Mie De Fan Hao
- Best Actress: Jia SONG for Cliff or Xuan Ya
- Gold Award for Best Foreign TV Series: Downton Abbey (U.K.)
- Silver Awards for Best Foreign TV Series: I am Mita, Your Housekeeper (Japan) and The Moon that Embraces the Sun (Korea)
Being the insiders of China’s TV industry, the jury members also had their reasons. For the most part, they were worried about an impending stagnation of the industry following its unprecedented expansion in the past years.
China produced 30,000 TV episodes in 2011, compared to 14,685 in 2010. Yet, only 10 percent of them have broken even or made a profit. Many series copy known successful works of the past and result in stories that no one wants to buy or to see. At the same time, a seemingly booming TV market makes performing artists overestimate their market value and demand ever higher fees.
At the Magnolia Forum of STVF 2012, Jury President Shaohong Li openly expressed her discontent at a second-tier actor who allegedly asked for RMB 440,000 (US$ 70,000) to appear in a single episode. The price can drive most Chinese TV channels off the cliff. Unable to pay for such expensive productions, they choose cheaper alternative programming such as talent shows and reality TV, many of which are more popular than conventional TV series too. The direction into which Chinese TV channels are moving therefore leaves a large number of already completed TV series never to see the light of day.
- Best TV Film: Homevideo (Germany)
- Best Director: Wolfgang Murnberger for The Kebab Incident (Austria)
- Best Screenplay: Tac Romey, Don Shubert, and Rupert Henning for The Kebab Incident (Austria)
- Best Documentary (60 minutes and above): A Film Unfinished (Israel)
- Best Documentary (below 60 minutes): Life in Stills (Israel)
- Best Chinese Documentary: The Surging River (China)
- Best Director: Yu ZHU for “Cloudy” Mountain (China)
- Best Photography: “Cloudy” Mountain (China)
- Jury’s Prize: Generation Kunduz (Afghanistan)
- Best Animation: Kioka (Korea)
- Best Animation (short): Scritch Scratch (Germany)
- Best Chinese Animation: Dragon on the Way (China)
- Jury’s Prize: Happy Town (China)