Nominations for the 37th International Emmys were announced this week. The awards are given to the best television programs produced outside the United States, and amongst the nominees were the mainland Chinese drama Ultimate Rescue (极限救援) in the category of Best TV Movie or Mini-Series. Li Chen (李晨) was also nominated in the Best Performance by an Actor for his role in the show.
Ultimate Rescue, apparently based on a true story, is set in a remote area of North-East China. A one-year old baby in a Heilongjiang township chokes on a chicken bone, and various people band together in a race against time and bad weather to ensure the baby gets to the provincial capital of Harbin for medical treatment. Clearly an uplifting example of what a harmonious society can achieve when we selflessly work together! Li Chen played the lead role of a rough-edged taxi driver who is caught in the thick of the spontaneous rescue mission, and was widely praised for his realistic portrayal.
The 30 year-old Li made his acting debut in the 1997 TV series, Seventeen Year-Olds Don't Cry, (十七岁不哭) which told the story of a group of secondary students and the trials they faced growing up and becoming adults. Li's career went quiet for several years, in which time he embarked on several unsuccessful business ventures and flirted with the idea of becoming a racing car driver (the driving skills later came in handy for Ultimate Rescue). However his career has seen a resurgence over the last couple of years; he has appeared in several high profile movies and TV series including Assembly, My Chief My Regiment and Tangshan Earthquake.
The International Emmys will be held in November in New York City. Ultimate Rescue and Li Chen were the only Chinese candidates across the 14 categories, with the rest of the field dominated by the British and Latin America. China to my knowledge has only ever won one award at the International edition of the Emmys. That was He Lin (何琳) who won a Best Actress Trophy for Slave Mother (为奴隶的母亲) in 2005 when, coincidentally, the head of China's Phoenix TV, Liu Changle, was president of the International Emmy Awards.