Taiwanese director Huang Hsin-yao’s (黃信堯) comedy drama Classmates Minus (同學麥娜絲) won the Audience Choice Award, a non-competitive category of the Golden Horse Awards, at a ceremony in Taipei on Friday night.
The ceremony, held at the Mandarin Oriental Taipei, took place a day ahead of the 57th Golden Horse Awards, widely considered the Oscars of Chinese-language movies.
The 122-minute movie, shot in color and in black and white, is a drama set in Taiwan about four high-school classmates who are led by a series of events to ponder their lives, their aspirations and their destinies.
The film follows the four as they take on careers — a director, a white-collar worker, a part-time office worker and a ghost money maker — and struggle through marriage and middle-age, and have their friendships put to the test, while putting society and human nature under a magnifying glass.
“I am very surprised,” Huang said. “The win shows that the film resonates with audiences around northern, central and southern [Taiwan].”
The International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI, short for Federation Internationale de la Presse Cinematographique) is an association of professional film critics and film journalists.
Malaysian director Chong Keat-aun (張吉安) was nominated for the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival’s FIPRESCI Prize for his feature debut The Story of Southern Islet (南巫).
The movie is about a Chinese couple who lives near the Malaysia-Thailand border. After the husband quarrels with a neighbor, he vomits blood and a rusty nail, and passes out. Desperate to find a treatment for her husband, the wife begins to explore the different spiritual beliefs held by the ethnic groups in the region, hoping that one of them can heal her husband.
The jury citation said: “This is a fascinating debut, a well-crafted cinematic journey filled with surreal images and enchanting atmosphere. The director slowly envelops the viewers with mesmerizing scenes full of mystery, strong visual sense and the portrait of a community, showing great conviction to tradition and to local culture.”
Chong said that he was satisfied just to be nominated.
“I think that in being nominated, I have already won the prize,” Chong said.
The 57th Golden Horse Awards ceremony — a physical event in a year hit by COVID-19 — took place yesterday evening at the National Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Taipei.
Forty nominated films competed for awards in 23 categories, said Wen Tien-hsiang (聞天祥), chief executive officer of the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival’s Executive Committee, adding that 465 entries were submitted this year, down from last year’s 588 entries.
Wen did not offer a reason.
China has boycotted the awards to express its dissatisfaction with an incident at the 2018 Golden Horse Awards ceremony, when Taiwanese director Fu Yu (傅榆) in her acceptance speech for Best Documentary called for Taiwan to be treated as an “independent entity.”
Last year’s entries were submitted before the Chinese ban was imposed, Wen said, adding that there were still about 100 entries from China this year.
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