BEIJING, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- The stars and crew of the new Chinese biopic about Confucius paid their respects to the ancient philosopher at his birthplace Friday, as the film opened in cinemas nationwide.
The ceremony was held in a Confucius Temple, in eastern Shandong Province's Qufu City. Yu Pinhai, chief coordinator of the film, led the tribute and chanted a scripture.
Hong Kong actor Chow Yun Fat, who played Confucius, director Hu Mei, and playwright Chen Han knelt and presented bouquets to the statue of Confucius (551 to 479 B.C.) in tribute.
Friday is Laba festival, the eighth day of the 12th month in Chinese lunar calendar, when people pay tribute to ancestors.
Chow knelt to Kong Demao, 93, a direct descendent of Confucius at the Jan. 14 premiere in Beijing. Chow said he had to muster his courage to play such a great man.
"The movie's screening indicates that Confucianism is playing an increasingly significant role in today's China," said Kong Dewei, 73, a direct descendent of Confucius.
In the past 2,500 years, Confucian thought had evolved with the time and has become an important symbol of Chinese culture, Kong Dewei said.
Some of his ideas were indeed truth, such as "don't do unto others what you don't want others do unto you," said Kong. "If every one adheres to those words, we can really build a harmonious society."
"We had to read The Analects of Confucius time and again. It was an inspiring experience as we learnt how he is connected to so many aspects of our daily life," Hu said.
Harmony was the core of Confucian thought, which coincided with the Chinese government's stated goal of building a harmonious society.
"Confucius," directed by Hu, and also starring mainland actress Zhou Xun, had a 150-million-yuan (21.97 million U.S. dollars) investment and set a record in Chinese film history for having 2,500 prints.
The great number of prints means that eventually the film will get onto all Chinese cinemas. Cinemas in China had 4,700 screens in total by the end of 2009, said Liu Rong, general manager of Beijing Dadi Century Ltd. of Dadi Film Group.