- Associated Press - Friday, May 13, 2016

CANNES, France (AP) - Actress Gong Li made a head-turning return to the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival, but the “Memoirs of a Geisha” star said she’s disappointed at the absence of Chinese films at the festival this year.

Not a single Chinese film is in competition, out of competition, or selected for any other category. Gong said she believes that’s a sign of an industry that cares too deeply about the dollar sign.

“Of course this is about money,” she said Wednesday. “We need to tell everyone that a movie is not merely for entertainment. It might leave you with something much deeper for your soul. It’s not just for laughs, not just for jokes. It’s more than that. There’s not a lot of people talking about that in China right now.”

The 50-year-old actress, who has previously starred in films in competition at Cannes and who has served as a jury member, this year is a guest of the french cosmetics brand L’Oreal, for which she’s an ambassador.

With close to three decades in the business, Gong has worked extensively with Chinese director Zhang Yimou on films like “Ju Dou,” ”Rise the Red Lantern” and “To Live.” She also worked in Hollywood in the early 2000s, appearing in “Memoirs of a Geisha” and “Miami Vice.”

When asked if a lack of roles for Asian actors has kept her from a larger Hollywood career, Gong said that the issue was less about ethnicity than gender.

“There are a lot of male roles, but not a lot of female roles. There are a lot of great actresses in the U.S. and there aren’t enough roles for them. It’s even hard for them to get a good female role, never mind a Chinese actress. How do you integrate that into the script? That’s very hard. How do you mix a Chinese actor with a group of foreigners? It’s not easy.”

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