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Changchun effect
2020-10-13 
Liu's best-known films include Postmen in the Mountains and Cock and Bull.[Photo provided to China Daily]

For many people, facilities such as a swing, seesaw or slide are likely to be the first pieces of equipment that come to mind when picturing a playground.

But for actor Liu Ye, who spent his childhood at the Changchun Film Studio-New China's first movie production company located in Jilin province-his playgrounds were the soundstages there.

Having grown up in Changchun, the provincial capital, Liu served as the ambassador of the 15th Changchun Film Festival, an annual event that was held in early September.

Among the country's first such post-outbreak events, where awards were presented in person, the festival is a way to boost domestic filmmakers' confidence in the speeding up of the industry's recovery.

"My childhood memories are tightly bound with the cinema circle in Changchun," Liu says during a telephone interview with China Daily.

Both his parents worked at the Changchun studio-his father as a light technician and his mother as an accountant with the internal labor union.

Liu says his family lived in the staff dormitories at the studio, which also had a kindergarten, school and hospital.

"The soundstages were my playgrounds, where you could see a lot of props, such as dummies. I still remember how shocked I was to see actors 'fly' while they were shooting a Monkey King-themed movie on a set designed to resemble the Flaming Mountain (a fictional setting in the 16th-century novel Journey to the West)."

Liu Ye speaks at an event as the ambassador of the 15th Changchun Film Festival in September.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Liu's mother often got cinema tickets that were given to staff members, making theatergoing a regular entertainment for Liu at a young age.

Considered the "cradle of Chinese cinema", the Changchun Film Studio has produced more than 900 feature films and translated over 1,000 foreign films over the past seven decades.

Influential classics that have remained etched in the minds of generations of Chinese include Five Golden Flowers, Heroic Sons and Daughters, Third Sister Liu and Dong Cunrui.

With a passion for cinema cultivated in his adolescent years, Liu easily attained admission for acting classes at the Central Academy of Drama in 1996. His classmates included Zhang Ziyi, Yuan Quan, Mei Ting and Qin Hao, all of whom later became A-list stars.

While in college at the age of 19, Liu landed his first leading role, portraying a young mail carrier in director Huo Jianqi's feature film Postmen in the Mountains, a once underestimated classic that has regained recognition in China after it became a hit in Japan in 2001.

In 1999, Liu was nominated for best supporting actor at the Golden Rooster Awards-a top honor in Chinese cinema-for the movie.

Liu, now 41, says that, at first, while watching some unedited scenes with the director and other crew members, he was not satisfied with his performance.

"But when I look back at the film after working as an actor for m