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Saturday
Nov172018

Golden Horse Winners (including "Shadow") and Fashions!

by Nathaniel R

Ang Lee and Andy Lau cheering on the winners

The Golden Horse Awards had a truly spread the wealth kind of year with no film dominating - all five of the Best Film nominees won multiple times. Though it didn't win the most statues, the four hour drama Elephant Sitting Still took Best Picture. Zhang Yimou took Best Director for Shadow (reviewed) and the film won three other technical prizes, leading the win tally. It probably helped that Yimou had his long time former muse, the goddess Gong Li, presiding over the jury but you can excuse those Huppert judging Haneke at Cannes style situations when it comes to the greatest director/muse pairings and Gong Li and Zhang Yimou are certainly on the all-time list. If you're unfamiliar with their work together watch any of their eight collaborations -- I'm most partial to Ju Dou or Raise the Red Lantern  personally -- and be floored.

Best Actress Gowns!

The winners, a few gifs, and red carpet fashions are after the jump...

Best Film An Elephant Sitting Still (Chu Yanhua, Hu Yongzhen)
Best Director Zhang Yimou for Shadow
Best Actress Hsieh Ying-xuan for Dear Ex
Best Actor Xu Zheng for Dying to Survive

Zhang Yimou presenting Best New Director (he won the normal Best Director prize)

Remarkably Zhang Yimou had somehow never won Best Director before this despite being one of the most important Chinese cinema directors of the past century.

Of the 10 lead acting nominees only Zhao Tao in Ash is Purest White had made real waves abroad on the international festival circuit but she lost. We expected as much since the film had no other major nominations.
 

Best Supporting Actress Ding Ning for Cities of Last Things
Best Supporting Actor Ben Yuen for Tracey

I share the Best Supporting Actress gif above because it's a fun reminder that whatever country's awards you get a peek at they nearly all share the same visual language even if you don't understand the actual language. About languages, the man congratulating Ding Ning above is her husband but he must not speak Mandarin because she switched to English in her acceptance speech when she got to the thank yous to him. (I'm so frustrated that I skipped Cities of Last Things at Toronto because it was on my original schedule. Argh.)


Best New Performer Si Pangoyod, Long Time No Sea

This little dude was so excited to win he was having Anna Paquin winning for The Piano levels of hyperventilation fidgeting. 

Best New Director Wen Muye for Dying to Survive
Best Original Screenplay Dying to Survive
Best Adapted Screenplay An Elephant Sitting Still

An Elephant Sitting Still won three big prizes (Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Audience Award) but the director had killed himself last year at just 29 years of age after making his feature film. He was nominated posthumously but did not win for "Best New Director".

The jury clearly also really liked Dying to Survive, a dramedy about a  man cornering the market on a cheap medicinal drug, which won Best Actor along with New Director and Original Screenplay.
 

Best Cinematography Long Day's Journey Into Night
Best Visual Effects Shadow
Best Art Direction Shadow
Best Makeup and Costume Design Shadow
Best Editing Dear Ex

Shadow didn't dominate at all, despite winning Best Director. It didn't do a clean sweep of the techs, which it might have in some years, splitting them with Long Day's Journey Into Night (reviewed) mostly.

More Gowns! I found the pictures here if you want to see more.

Best Sound Effects Long Day's Journey Into Night
Best Action Choreography Hidden Man
Best Original Score Long Day's Journey Into Night
Best Original Song "Bali Song" from Dear Ex

Outstanding Taiwanese Filmmaker of the Year Sabuo Liu
Audience Choice Award An Elephant Sitting Still
Fipresci Prize The Looming Storm
Special Contribution Award Liao Ching-sung


Best Documentary Our Youth in Taiwan (Fu Yue, 7th Day Film)
Best Animated Feature On Happiness Road (Sung Hsin-yin)
Best Live Action Short A Final Reunion (Da Peng)
Best Animated Short Where Am I Going? (Huang Yun sian, Tsai Yi Chin)

On Happiness Road is eligible for this year's Oscar for Best Animated Feature and it's clearly well liked because it's also nominated at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards

THAT'S A WRAP

If you'd like to watch the whole ceremony you can do that here though it's not subtitled and it's four plus hours long. Take that Oscar with your stupid "we need to be shorter!" business. 

But I leave you with this adorable shot of Chang Chen and Roy Chiu smiling at each other. 

 

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Reader Comments (12)

I've seen three of the Best Picture nominees (unfortunately not the two I most anticipate: Long Days Journey.. & Shadow), and I can honestly say that these two films would have to be pretty extraordinary to surpass An Elephant Sitting Still. I suspect, however, that Gan Bi's (who made one of my Top 10 choices, Kaili Blues-2016) film could change my mind. That aside, it is so strange that none of these 5 films were chosen to represent China at the Oscars. And then we wonder why Asian films are constantly overlooked. Well, here is an indisputable reason why.

November 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterIsmael

There should be a gif of Debra Winger almost throwing up of anxiety at the Oscars.

November 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Gong Li in Raise the Red Lantern is better than Meryl Streep in Sophie's Choice.

November 17, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterbeyaccount

Some juicy behind the scenes updates:

1) The winner of best documentary mentioned about being an independent country and that created a huge furore among the the Chinese medias, later on, last yr best actor, when presenting best actress, stressed upon the word: I'm honored to be here in China Taiwan....

Lee Ang was left to fend Qs from the reporters on the sensitive political undertone after the show (Head of Jury, Gong Li apparently went MIA) & he mentioned tt politics should not come into the picture or discussion in appreciating and rewarding the arts and he said its a miracle tt 90% of the nominees all made a point to attend regardless of their political beliefs (well said!)

2) Speaking Gong Li, she was supposed to present the biggest award of the night together w Lee Ang, but she REFUSED to come up from her seat even when Lee pleaded w her.

Rumour has it tt she was pissed tt Shadows (fr Zhang Yimou) did not win Best Pic. The jury debated the biggest prize for more than 3 hrs, before Gong Li asked them each to list down which film shld win & why...She herself did not agreed w the final winner and decided NOT to go up stage to present as a show of defiance

3) I suspect Elephant Sitting Still won not because its the best but because the jury wanna make a statement. At 4 hrs long, its hardly an audience friendly film and the young director, Hu Bo killed himself last yr bcos he was forced to cut it into a theatre friendly length of 2 hrs and he REFUSED.

Hu Bo won Adapted Screenplay posthumously and was the runner up in Best New Director, missing by 2 votes...The jury really really wanna make a statement this yr...

Elephant Sitting also won the Audience Award, voted by public and not the jury.

4) Best Director & Actress was decided upon 1st rd of voting, Best Actor takes 3 rounds & multiple debates before Gu Zheng finally won on a thin margin.

November 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterClaran

So happy to see Elephant Sitting Still winning the major categories. It was the best film I saw at the NZIFF last July. A truly unforgettable film. Epic but also intimate and there's a lot of Kieslowskian touches that worked best (at least for me) in telling this sad story about finding hope.

I haven't seen the other lead actress nominees' films but surprised that Tao Zhao did not win. Makes me want to see all the films listed.

Thanks for sharing about the Li Gong/Lee Ang debacle. It adds dimension to the politics of films.

November 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterOwl

The Oscars and every other awards show should be no longer than 3 hours - including ads. 4 hours is way too much. Has there ever been an Oscars ceremony 4 hours or longer? I don't think so.

November 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBette Streep

Another version of reason why Gong Li decided not to present BP with Lee Ang is that she was unhappy with the “independent country” speech as well.

November 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterHav

Gong Li decided not to present BP with Lee Ang because she was unhappy with the “independent country" speech. This is very clear and should not be argued if you have watched the whole ceremony.

November 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMichellePfan

Probably so. But good on Yue Fu! Communist China allows no freedom of speech or press, so it’s a fair point that a documentary like hers could not be made or released, under those circumstances, in mainland China. Li Gong and her compatriots probably don’t want the blowback from the Chinese government — wither thou, Bingbing Fan? — by appearing to condone pro-democracy sentiments.

November 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

Bette Streep -- there actually has. Shakespeare in Love (1998), American Beauty (1999) and A Beautiful Mind (2001) ceremonies all ran over four hours. Those are the only ones to have gone over hour hours but there's been quite a few 3 hour and 40 minutes kind of ceremonies.

we wait for it all year. I say let it be 4 hours every time.

November 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Lord, China government is demanding their movie stars to issue anti-independency statement on Twitter, and they have to, or they will suffer severe boycott.

November 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterLord

I've been meaning to comment on this, but procrastination and life got in the way. But better late than never! Mareko is spot on and it's a sure thing that Gong Li and a lot of the other artists don't want blow back from the Chinese government AND the mainland Chinese citizens. Taiwan's independence is deeply controversial and very very polarizing. Citizens of Taiwan and Hong Kong are usually pro independence and mainland Chinese are usually anti independence. Even if an artist was pro independence for Taiwan, s/he would likely keep that on the down low and not publicly air those sentiments for fear of censure from both the Chinese government (the most autocratic and imperialistic one in the world; remember they made actress Fan Bingbing disappear for three months - rumours of a "re-education camp" swirl still - simply because she cheated on her taxes) and the mainland Chinese citizens, who can be some of the most judgmental and censorious people on the planet.

Indeed, China is so controlling and autocratic that they've now banned films from containing time travel, ghost stories, and gay love.

As for Gong Li herself, she's been critical of China in the past. Particularly when some of her films with Zhang Yimou were criticized for being too "liberal." However, she's since cooled her jets (which I can't blame her for in light of the Fan Bingbing fiasco) and that's why she went MIA and poor Ang Lee had to go out there and face the music all by himself. It should be noted that Gong Li immigrated to Singapore years ago and has Singaporean citizenship, so if shit ever goes down for her, she can at least flee back there.

Lauren Teixeira wrote a very insightful article about artistic freedom in the Taiwan/China region over at ForeignPolicy.com. Here's the link: https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/11/20/taiwanese-filmmakers-cant-escape-beijings-grip-golden-horse-gong-li/.

Sometimes sites will take down articles after a while to make room for new incoming ones. Since this article is so good, I'm going to copy and paste it here, so that readers can still access it. Nathan, if this causes trouble for you, then obviously just remove it.

Taiwanese Filmmakers Can’t Escape Beijing’s Grip
The market's in the mainland, but the freedom to create is in Taiwan

By Lauren Teixeira

For Taiwanese filmmakers, the market of 1.3 billion people across the strait is both tempting and constrictive. Tempting, because it means an audience they’ll never reach at home. Constrictive, because the mainland’s censorship is overwhelming—and there’s no more dangerous issue in China than Taiwanese independence. That has made actors and directors cautious of endangering their prospects on the mainland.

But in Taipei this Saturday at the 55th annual Golden Horse Awards, which honor films from around the Chinese-speaking world, independence finally took a front seat. That sparked a round of mandatory patriotism from mainland actors—and highlighted the deep divisions between the diaspora and the painfully censorious mainland, in a field that was once one of the few places where artistic unity and common heritage were able to overcome political divisions.

When the Golden Horse first opened up, the number of mainland nominees paled in comparison to the number from Taiwan and Hong Kong. But as the mainland film industry continues to grow, Chinese film has taken a prominent if not dominant spot at the awards—the symbolism of which is not lost on its attendees. Like it or not, mainland cinema has become too big to ignore. The Chinese domestic film market is worth billions, and Taiwan’s is a fraction of that. Taiwanese directors and thespians need to act nice for capital and access—but not all of them are happy to play along.

At the Golden Horse awards, the best documentary prize went to Our Youth in Taiwan, an examination of the 2014 pro-Taiwan independence Sunflower Movement. In her acceptance speech, director Fu Yue expressed her hope that Taiwan would one day be recognized as “a truly independent entity,” adding that such a recognition was her “greatest wish as a Taiwanese.”

As soon as Taiwanese independence was mentioned, broadcasts of the program in the mainland were immediately cut off. This was to be expected: The People’s Republic of China regards Taiwan as a “breakaway province,” regularly threatens to retake it by force, and bans any discussion of independence from domestic media. There’s no more potentially heated issue in China, where Taiwan’s “rightful” status as a part of the motherland is drilled in from elementary school onward.

What’s more surprising is that the broadcast was allowed in the first place. As recently as 2014, China banned the Golden Horse broadcast on account of the Taiwanese film Kano, which had been nominated for several of the categories. Kano, a baseball drama set in the Japanese colonial period, was seen as portraying the Japanese occupation of Taiwan in too positive a light. The Hong Kong Film Awards, meanwhile, came under fire in 2016 for lauding the dystopian action film Trivisa, which many saw as an allegory for an encroaching mainland takeover in the city-state; plans to broadcast the ceremony were quashed at the last minute.

The 2018 Golden Horse contenders were even more inflammatory. In addition to Our Youth, another nominee was Umbrella Diaries, a documentary about the Hong Kong protest movement. The awkwardness mounted following Our Youth director Fu’s statement when Taiwanese auteur Ang Lee took to the stage alone to present the award for best picture, while his planned co-presenter Gong Li, the doyenne of mainland cinema and chair of this year’s Golden Horse jury, remained coolly seated in the audience, presumably in protest of the evening’s pro-Taiwan rhetoric.

On the mainland Chinese internet, Gong’s act of defiance soon shot to the top of the hot trending topics, enjoying a mostly positive reception from netizens who hailed Gong as “Empress” and credited her for standing up to the perceived bullying of the pro-Taiwan independence “faction.” Gong herself, regardless of whether her patriotism was stirred or not, must have been aware of how quickly the government and the mob could turn against her if she seemed to give the idea any kind of endorsement.

Gong’s act was followed by a round of social media posts from Chinese celebrities, often using identical language, endorsing national unity and damning Taiwan. That prompted Taiwanese—and young Hong Kongers, who often see the Taiwanese as comrades against Beijing—to pledge boycotts of the stars in turn.

The Golden Horse Awards themselves have never been apolitical. They were conceived in 1962 as part of the Kuomintang military dictatorship bid to consolidate support for the regime across the Chinese diaspora. Even the Chinese name for the award, Jinma, is an amalgam of the names of two islands, Jinmen and Mazu (rendered as Kinmen and Matsu in the Wade-Giles romanization system used by Taiwan), long disputed between the mainland and Taiwan. China responded in kind, launching the Hundred Flowers film awards in 1963, but these were soon suspended with the arrival of the Cultural Revolution and didn’t pick back up again until after the death of Mao Zedong. In the intervening time, and with the dominance of Taiwanese and Hong Kong cinema, the Golden Horse Awards became the premier show in the Sinosphere.

From its inception until 1989, the Golden Horse was run entirely by the Kuomintang’s propaganda arm, the Government Information Office, which was tasked with carrying out the regime’s “Mandarin film” policy—that is, subsidizing films in Mandarin (the language shared by Kuomintang exiles who had just fled the mainland, as opposed to Taiwanese) that also evinced pro-government sentiments and adherence to national policy. For almost two decades, only Mandarin films qualified for the Golden Horse—the policy was only dropped quietly in 1983 to accommodate the new wave of Cantonese-language films from Hong Kong.

While the Golden Horse broadened to include its fellow disputed territory, it continued to exclude submissions from the mainland. Feigning indifference, China started a second rival awards show, the Golden Rooster, in 1981—to which, of course, Taiwan was not invited. The Golden Rooster and Hundred Flowers were soon merged—continued as a parallel ceremony until 1996, when the Golden Horse finally opened up to submissions from the mainland.

In that year, Jiang Wen’s In the Heat of the Sun took the prize for best film, an especially significant victory for China, at the time a far less developed economy and an undisputed lesser cultural power. But it was also a sign of a willingness among the Taiwanese to take mainland culture seriously—and to find a common ground that now seems lacking.

After this year’s show, a harried-looking Lee told media that it was his hope politics could stay out of the ceremony and that “respect for the film industry” could take precedence. He was expressing a sentiment that’s common among the older generation of actors and directors, for whom film was one of the ways that Chinese were able to rediscover their common heritage in the 1980s as the mainland began to open up. That’s why many mainlanders found the intrusion of independence so painful, too—for them, a venue that had once been part of humanizing one another was now tainted by Taiwanese radicalism.

For Taiwanese, though, silence is increasingly equated with complicity with Beijing’s global efforts to squash the narrow political space available to the island. This year’s ceremony—a rare annual occasion for the Chinese-speaking world to come together—exposed the increasingly frail fiction that all of the Chinese-speaking regions have equal seats at the table when it comes to the culture industry. Going forward, the Golden Horse will have to choose one of two paths: It can return to its local, nationalistic origins, accepting only Taiwanese submissions, or it can follow the rest of the world in bending the knee to the mainland.

December 31, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBlinking Cursor

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