China boycotts Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards

Golden Horse committee says awards to continue as planned

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The 56th Golden Horse Awards will be held on November 23 (Image from the Golden Horse Film Festival Facebook page)

The 56th Golden Horse Awards will be held on November 23 (Image from the Golden Horse Film Festival Facebook page)

[Updated on August 7 at 17:15]

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Chinese films and filmmakers will be absent from this year’s Taipei-based Golden Horse Awards, occasionally dubbed by foreign media as the “Oscars of Asia,” as Beijing has on Wednesday (Aug. 7) reportedly imposed a ban.

The China Film Administration has suspended Chinese films and filmmakers from participating in the 56th Golden Horse Awards, announced China Film News, the mouthpiece of Chinese cinematic authorities, via its official Weibo account on Wednesday.

The Golden Horse Film Festival Executive Committee said afterward that it would surely regret such a decision if the information is confirmed, reported the Central News Agency. Nevertheless, the awards will continue as planned, according to the committee.

The news came a week after Beijing imposed a travel ban on solo trips by Chinese tourists to Taiwan. The decision has been denounced by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) as using tourism as a political tool with the intention of influencing Taiwan’s presidential election next January.

Beijing’s action will negatively affect excellent filmmakers in China, and it will not be constructive for the relationship between Taiwan and China, commented Ernesto Ting (丁允恭), a spokesperson for the Presidential Office, in a statement issued this afternoon.

The Ministry of Culture (MOC) said it feels “deeply regretted” that politics has has interfered with cultural affairs. The Golden Horse Awards continue to welcome filmmakers from around the world, and the ministry looks forward to seeing Chinese filmmaker’s participation in the future, added MOC.

Held in Taipei every November since 1962, the Golden Horse Awards have been acclaimed as among the most important accolades Chinese-language filmmakers can receive. Several films censored in China have been nominated and even awarded at the Awards over the years.

Even though the ban came as Taiwan’s presidential race heats up, with scholars and officials warning of possible interference from the Chinese government, measures taken by Beijing to restrict participation in the Golden Horse Awards began months ago. In June, China decided to move the ceremony of its Golden Rooster Awards to November 23, which coincides with that of the Golden Horse Awards.

China’s intention to boycott the Golden Horse Awards is widely seen as a response to an acceptance speech made at last year’s awards ceremony. “[I] hope that one day our country [Taiwan] can be treated as a genuinely independent entity,” said director Fu Yue (傅榆), whose “Our Youth in Taiwan,” was awarded the Best Documentary.

Fu’s pro-independence statement provoked a huge reaction during and after the awards, with several Chinese filmmakers promptly declaring their loyalty to Beijing on the ceremony stage and via social media. Chinese actress Gong Li (鞏俐), head of the awards jury last year, later declined to deliver the award for Best Feature Film.

Golden Horse’s best director Zhang Yimou (張藝謀) was earlier reported to have refused to take part in this year’s awards with his new film, “One Second.” However, the Chinese drama appears to have already been hit by Chinese censorship due to its content. Selected to compete in the 69th Berlin International Film Festival in February, “One Second” was withdrawn shortly before its screening, citing “technical difficulties” as the reason for the cancelation.