Lou Ye (Wade–Giles: Lou Yeh), born 1965, is a Chinese screenwriter-director who is commonly grouped with the "Sixth Generation"[1][2][3] directors of Chinese cinema.

Lou Ye
Born1965 (age 56–57)
Years active1990s–present
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese婁燁
Simplified Chinese娄烨


Born in Shanghai, Lou was educated at the Beijing Film Academy. In 1993, he made his first film Weekend Lover, but it was not released until two years later, having its world premiere at the International Filmfestival Mannheim-Heidelberg where it received the Rainer Werner Fassbinder Award. Between completion and premiere of Weekend Lover he made and released Don't Be Young, a thriller about a girl who takes her nightmares as real, in 1994. Lou, however, did not gain international prominence until his third film, the neo-noir Suzhou River. That film dealt with questions of identity and proved quite controversial upon its release in China. Upon its release, international audiences praised Suzhou River, which several critics felt evoked Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo, particularly in how both films focus on a man obsessed with a mysterious woman.[4][5]

In 2003 Lou released Purple Butterfly starring Zhang Ziyi. The film is a tale of revenge and betrayal taking place during the Japanese occupation of Shanghai, with a complex narrative structure borrowing heavily from film noir traditions.

Lou's next film, Summer Palace (2006), a story of two lovers in the backdrop of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, again brought Lou into conflict with Chinese authorities, resulting in a five-year ban for both him and his producer. In order to circumvent the ban, his next film, Spring Fever, was shot surreptitiously in Nanjing and registered as a Hong Kong-French coproduction to avoid censors. The film was shown in competition at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival[6] where writer Mei Feng won the Best Screenplay award.

In 1998, Lou, along with actress Nai An (who had starred in his first two films, and would go on to star in Suzhou River) started the production company Dream Factory, which would go on to produce all of Lou's films.

Censorship IssuesEdit

Lou Ye's films have proven controversial in their content, and often deal with issues of sexuality, gender, and obsession. Government censors banned his first film Weekend Lover for two years, while his breakout film Suzhou River was banned (with Lou receiving a 2-year ban from filmmaking) but has since been authorized in China.[7]

Later, after Lou submitted Summer Palace to the 2006 Cannes Film Festival without approval from Chinese censors, he was banned from film-making again, this time for five years.[8] The film itself was also banned, though according to Lou this was because it was not up to the SARFT's standards for picture and sound quality.[9]

In 2016, Lou's The Shadow Play wrapped the shooting. The film deals with Forced evictions, demonstration by residents and violent scenes, e.g., killing and body burning. Hong Kong actor Edison Chen also performed in this film. Therefore, the film couldn't get permission for screening for more than two years. In 2018, the film finally made its world premiere in Taiwan's Golden Horse Film Festival.


Year English title Chinese title Notes
1994 Don't be young 危情少女
1995 Weekend Lover 周末情人 Werner Fassbinder Award for Best Direction at the 1996 Mannheim-Heidelberg Film Festival
2000 Suzhou River 苏州河 Tiger Award at the 1999 International Film Festival Rotterdam
2001 "In Shanghai" 在上海 Documentary short, 16m
2003 Purple Butterfly 紫蝴蝶
2006 Summer Palace 頤和園
2009 Spring Fever 春风沉醉的夜晚 Prix du scénario award at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival
2011 Love and Bruises
2012 Mystery 浮城谜事 Asian Film Award for Best Film
2014 Blind Massage 推拿 Golden Horse Award for Best Feature Film
2018 The Shadow Play 风中有朵雨做的云
2019 Saturday Fiction 兰心大剧院


  1. ^ Valens, Grégory (2003). "Purple Butterfly". FilmFestivals.com. Archived from the original on 2006-08-31. Retrieved 2007-04-30.
  2. ^ Hu, Brian (2005-02-03). "Above Ground and Over His Head". Asia Pacific Arts. Archived from the original on 2007-02-18. Retrieved 2007-04-30.
  3. ^ The Daily Telegraph Staff (2006-02-28). "In the Realm of Censors". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2002-10-17. Retrieved 2007-04-30.
  4. ^ Scott, A.O. (2000-03-25). "Film Festival Review; A Chill Scene for Shadowy Characters". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-02-23.
  5. ^ "Think Global, Act Local". The Village Voice. 2000-03-20. Archived from the original on 2007-09-23. Retrieved 2007-02-23.
  6. ^ McCarthy, Todd (2009-04-16). "Cannes taps heavy hitters". Variety. Retrieved 2009-04-22.
  7. ^ "《苏州河》资料—中国—电影—优酷网,视频高清在线观看—又名:《Suzhou River》".
  8. ^ Variety Staff (2006-09-04). "China gives 'Palace' pair 5-year bans". Variety. Retrieved 2007-02-20.
  9. ^ Jones, Arthur (2007-02-08). "'Banned filmmaker' is a relative term". Variety. Retrieved 2007-04-29.

External linksEdit