Taiwan's Golden Horse Awards 'open' despite China boycott

Entries no less excellent than previous years, says director Ang Lee, adding 'our arms always remain open'

Taiwan film director Ang Lee

Taiwan film director Ang Lee (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Award-winning film director Ang Lee (李安) said Saturday (Nov. 23) the Golden Horse Awards welcomes all Chinese-language films despite Beijing’s boycott at this years’ event, adding “our arms always remain open.”

Lee, chairman of the Golden Horse executive committee since 2018, spoke after the ceremony held in Taipei on Saturday evening. “It is certainly a loss,” said Lee, referring to the absence of Chinese films and China-funded Hong Kong films. “But the entries this year are no less excellent than previous years.”

The Chinese government banned all Chinese films and filmmakers from participating in the Taipei-based awards in August. Several Hong Kong films, usually funded by Chinese investors, later also withdrew, followed by the resignation of Hong Kong director Johnnie To (杜琪峯) from the Golden Horse jury chair.

Lee said he wished the awards were not obstructed by “political situations,” but even so they would have to face them. “We live in this world, and we will make the greatest efforts to protect the platform for filmmakers."

“Of course there is a little regret,” said Lee. “But our arms always remain open. We cannot control the outside world, but as long as it is a Chinese-language film, we welcome you.”

After the controversies at last year’s awards ceremony, which included director Fu Yue’s (傅榆) acceptance speech advocating Taiwan independence, and several Chinese filmmakers suggesting Taiwan be part of China, sensitive political remarks were almost absent on Saturday evening — except for one example. Composer Lu Lu-ming (盧律銘), who won Best Original Film Song for “The Day After Rain,” dedicated the song to pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. His remarks drew a big round of applause among the audience.

The ceremony rightly focused on cinema and art instead, and it also managed to uphold the Golden Horse’s spirit of openness and inclusion, critics observed.

A total of 588 entries were submitted to the 56th Golden Horse Awards this year — less than 2018 but slightly more than 2017. A number of independent Hong Kong films were nominated for important award categories, including “Suk Suk” for Best Feature Film and “My Prince Edward” for Best Leading Actor, even though neither of them eventually received the awards.

Taiwan films “A Sun” and “Detention” were the biggest winners. The former clinched Best Director, Best Feature Film, and Best Leading Actor and Supporting Actor, and the latter picked up Best New Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, as well as other technical awards.

Malaysian and Singaporean filmmakers were also awarded in a handful of categories, including Malaysian actress Yeo Yann Yann (楊雁雁), who won Best Actress for the Singaporean film “Wet Season.”