Director of the film Still Life, which won the Venice Film Festival's Golden Lion Award in 2006.
He majored in Film Theory at the Beijing Film Academy and created a trilogy of films based in his home province of Shanxi.
His success operating outside of China's state-run film bureaucracy led NPR film critic John Powers to name him as one of the most important filmmakers of his generation. He was a leading figure of China's Sixth Generation of cinema.
He married actress Tao Zhao in January 2012.
His 2008 film 24 City featured actress Joan Chen of The Last Emperor fame.