CAROUSEL GENERAL COMMENTARY

Transcending Regional Boundaries at the 56th Golden Horse Awards

14 November 2019

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Transcending Regional Boundaries at the 56th Golden Horse Awards

Film still from Wet Season (2019)

The 56th Golden Horse Film Festival is currently underway and will lead up to the Awards Ceremony on 23 November 2019. What makes this year’s edition slightly different from the previous years is that there’s some political tension that has caused Golden Horse to make some changes in categories and nomination pool. We chanced upon PONY WORLD—a Facebook page by Taiwanese film critic Pony Ma—that shared some insights as to how the festival has been affected and what is at stake. 

We’ve summarised and translated the post, so read on to find out more about her thoughts on the 56th Golden Horse Film Festival and some of the nominated films for the Awards: 


The 56th Golden Horse Film Festival and Awards are implicated in the political tensions among China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan that have led up to it. China has banned the participation of Chinese films in the festival, removing many possible contenders. Commercial blockbusters like The White Storm 2 – Drug Lords《掃毒2天地對決》and Chasing the Dragon Ⅱ: Master of Ransom 《追龍II:賊王》have dropped out of the competition, alongside upcoming Hong Kong films which relied on Chinese funds for production. 

But this could lead to a new direction for the Golden Horse, such as allowing niche, arthouse Taiwanese films to garner attention without being overshadowed by large production companies and commercial films. 

Competing films from Singapore and Malaysia have also consistently done well in the award festival, so not all is lost. An outstanding example would be Anthony Chen’s Ilo Ilo《爸媽不在家》. In this way, more Chinese-language films from this region can be introduced to the Taiwanese audience who are less aware of how prolific Singaporean and Malaysian production companies are. 

The nomination list for the Golden Horse Awards this year is also a lot more varied, instead of being dominated by just Chinese-language films. It also shows China that Golden Horse Awards remains as the ultimate award recognition for Chinese films. It is also worth mentioning the Hong Kong independent films that have made it to the nominations list. (Bravo to them for their courage!) As long as the requisite of being made by a Chinese director is met, this year’s list sees more films in different languages. 

Film still from Langit Budak Biru (2018)

For instance, Lim Kean-hian’s Langit Budak Biru《蒼天少年藍》is mainly in Malay and made it to the nomination list for Best Live Action Short Film, stretching the interpretation of what constitutes Chinese films. While the requisite has existed for a while, this year, the focus of Golden Horse Awards to celebrate Chinese and Chinese-language films is put into the spotlight. 

Many of the nominations this year are of esteemed quality, receiving much international recognition and hype. Singapore’s representative for the Academy Awards’ Best International Feature Film category, Yeo Siew Hua’s A Land Imagined《幻土》, won the Golden Leopard top prize at 2018 Locarno Film Festival and will be screening at Golden Horse. Furthermore, following Ilo Ilo《爸媽不在家》 , Anthony Chen—with his strong sense of detail in production—is bringing Wet Season《熱帶雨》to the awards. There’s a lot of attention drawn to Wet Season 《熱帶雨》and the film has gained 6 nominations, including Best Narrative Feature, Best Director, Best Leading Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Original Screenplay. 

Malaysian films also have much to gain. Malaysian director Lau Kek-huat has submitted two feature films: Boluomi《菠蘿蜜》and The Tree Remembers《還有一些樹》, the latter being a film that deals with Malaysian Communism and has also entered the Taipei Film Festival. In the Best Live Action Short Film nominations, Lim Kean-hian’s (who previously studied film in Taiwan) Langit Budak Biru《蒼天少年藍》tackles issues regarding race, religion, homosexuality, youth, and school bullying. From these Singapore and Malaysia films, the themes observed are often based on the multicultural background of the different regions, looking at individual lives and expanding to a social commentary. 

Film still from The Garden of Evening Mists (2019)

What’s more prominent is that many of these works show a collaboration with Taiwan, as seen in the production of Wet Season《熱帶雨》. Receiving nine nominations in the Golden Horse Awards, Tom Lin Shu-yu’s The Garden of Evening Mists《夕霧花園》 is not only based on a novel about Malaysia after the Second World War, but is also co-produced by Astro Shaw, HBO Asia, Malaysian National Film Development Council (FINAS) and CJ Entertainment. Instead of seeing the Chinese films as coming from their respective countries, it is perhaps time to see the industry as a whole, without geographical boundaries. 

But looking back at films from Hong Kong, they are in an unprecedented position in this year’s Golden Horse Awards. Many co-productions between Hong Kong and China have pulled out, including The Secret Diary of a Mom to Be《Baby復仇記》, The Fallen 《墮落花》, A Witness Out of the Blue 《犯罪現場》and I’m Livin It 《麥路人》. Despite so, there are still many Hong Kong entries, namely Suk Suk 《叔.叔》and My Prince Edward 《金都》. With Suk Suk 《叔.叔》revolving around an elderly homosexual couple, this makes it the second consecutive year in the Golden Horse that there is a LGBT film from Hong Kong. These two films prove that they can stand alone as truly, genuinely “Hong Kong-made” films. And not just feature films,  documentaries and short films from Hong Kong have also made the nominations list. 

Taiwanese films this year take the biggest slice of the cake in the 2019 Golden Horse Awards, racking up nominations in 12 different categories, the most for one country. Detention 《返校》 received the most with 12 nominations, while A Sun 《陽光普照》 is a close second with 11. However, many of the nominated films have also done well in the commercial box office, highlighting the absence of arthouse films. 

Film still from Detention (2019)

While Taiwanese films should be delighted to be the biggest winners this time, judging from the nomination list, it is the same few Taiwanese directors, who are more experienced in the field (Chung Mong-hong, Chang Tso-chi, and Chao Te-yin), leading the competition. The possibility for a new generation of Taiwanese films is stunted. It is a pity that Ohong Village’s 《蚵豐村》aesthetics were not recognised and that The Gangs, the Oscars, and The Walking Dead’s《江湖無難事》eccentric rhythm did not make the cut. While recognition is given to more Taiwanese genre films, it is a shame that not more new directors were nominated and recognised in the Golden Horse. 

The Golden Horse Awards still sees great impact from China’s withdrawal. For instance, the number of nominees in technical awards have been reduced significantly. Though, in this way, more attention can be paid to Taiwan’s ability to shine in film technicalities. We Are Champions 《下半場》is recognised with its nominations in Best Visual Effects, Best Action Choreography and Best Sound Effects. Mayday Life《五月天 人生無限公司》is similarly nominated in Best Visual Effects and Best Action Choreography. 

This year, the Golden Horse Awards has proven capable of still subsisting even without China’s participation, drawing up a shortlist of excellent films to celebrate this annual Chinese film event. 

Here is the list of nominations: 

Best Narrative Feature:

The Garden of Evening Mists 《夕霧花園》|Malaysia

A Sun 《陽光普照》|Taiwan

Suk Suk 《叔.叔》|Hong Kong, China

Wet Season《熱帶雨》|Singapore, Taiwan

Detention 《返校》|Taiwan

Best Director: 

Chung Mong-hong|A Sun 《陽光普照》

Midi Z|Nina Wu 《灼人秘密》

Anthony Chen | Wet Season《熱帶雨》

Tom Lin Shu-yu | The Garden of Evening Mists 《夕霧花園》

Chang Tso-chi | Synapses《那個我最親愛的陌生人》

Best Leading Actor:

Wu Chien-ho |A Sun 《陽光普照》

Chen Yi-wen | A Sun 《陽光普照》

Cheung Ka-nin | Suk Suk 《叔.叔》

Ben Yuen | Suk Suk 《叔.叔》

Chu Pak-hong | My Prince Edward《金都》

Best Leading Actress: 

Samantha Koh | A Sun 《陽光普照》

Lee Sinje | The Garden of Evening Mists 《夕霧花園》

Yeo Yann-yann | Wet Season《熱帶雨》

Lu Hsueh-feng | Synapses《那個我最親愛的陌生人》

Gingle Wang | Detention 《返校》

Best Supporting Actor:

Liu Kuan-ting | A Sun 《陽光普照》

Duan Chun-hao | We Are Champions《下半場》

Koh Jia-ler | Wet Season《熱帶雨》

Yang Shi-bin | Wet Season《熱帶雨》

Li Ying-chuan | Synapses《那個我最親愛的陌生人》

Best Supporting Actress:

Yao Yi-ti | The Gangs, The Oscars, and The Walking Dead《江湖無難事》

Wen Chen-ling | A Sun 《陽光普照》

Patra Au Ga-man | Suk Suk 《叔.叔》

Lu Yi-ching | 3 Days 2 Nights《3天2夜》

Winnie Chang | The Teacher 《我的靈魂是愛做的》

Best New Director:

Lau Kek-huat, Vera Chen | Boluomi《菠蘿蜜》

Hung Tzu-hsuan | The Scoundrels《狂徒》

Hsu Chia-kai The Last Thieves 《聖人大盜》

John Hsu | Detention《返校》

Wong Yee-lan | My Prince Edward《金都》

Best New Performer:

Yuan Teng | The Paradise 《樂園》

Tsai Jia-yin | Heavy Craving《大餓》

Fandy Fan | We Are Champions《下半場》

Oscar Chiu | The Teacher 《我的靈魂是愛做的》

Tseng Jing-hua | Detention《返校》

Best Original Screenplay:

Chung Mong-hong, Chang Yao-shen | A Sun《陽光普照》

Ray Yeung | Suk Suk《叔.叔》

Yeo Siew-hu | A Land Imagined《幻土》

Anthony Che | Wet Season《熱帶雨》

Wu Ke-xi, Midi Z | Nina Wu 《灼人秘密》

Best Adapted Screenplay:

Lai Meng-jie, Neverland Entertainment Limited, Liu Hsueh-jung | Stand By Me《陪你很久很久》

Richard Smith | The Garden Of Evening Mists《夕霧花園》

John Hsu, Fu Kai-ling, Chien Shih-keng | Detention《返校》

Best Cinematography:

Nakashima Nagao | A Sun 《陽光普照》

Chen Ko-chin, Chen Chih-hsuan | The Scoundrels《狂徒》

Chen Tapu | We Are Champions《下半場》

Kartik Vijay | The Garden Of Evening Mists《夕霧花園》

Florian J.E. Zinke | Nina Wu《灼人秘密》

Best Visual Effects:

Charles Lee, Yeh Jen-hao | The Devil Fish《人面魚 紅衣小女孩外傳》

Wells Tu | We Are Champions《下半場》

Simple View Production Company | Synapses《那個我最親愛的陌生人》

Renovatio Pictures, Tomi Kuo | Detention《返校》

Grass Jelly Studio, Moonshine Vfx, The White Rabbit Entertainment, Inc. | Mayday Life《五月天 人生無限公司》

Best Art Direction:

Hsiao Jen-chieh | Paradise Next《亡命之途》

Lai Yung-kun | The Magnificent Bobita《最乖巧的殺人犯》

Penny Tsai Pei-ling, Lum Heng-soon, Chen Hsuan-shao | The Garden Of Evening Mists 《夕霧花園》

Wang Chih-cheng | Detention《返校》

Kuo Chih-da | Nina Wu《灼人秘密》

Best Makeup & Costume Design:

Kao Chia-lin | The Magnificent Bobita《最乖巧的殺人犯》

Lore Shih | The Gangs, The Oscars, And The Walking Dead《江湖無難事》

Hsu Li-wen, Lo Wan-yi | The Scoundrels《狂徒》

Nikki Gooley, Biby Chow, Penny Tsai Pei-ling, Nina Edwards | The Garden Of Evening Mists《夕霧花園》

Jelly Chung, Chan Cheuk-ming | Nina Wu《灼人秘密》

Best Action Photography:

Hung Shih-hao | The Scoundrels《狂徒》

Hung Shih-hao, Chia Fan | We Are Champions《下半場》

Jimmy Hung | Detention《返校》

Gino Yang | Mayday Life《五月天 人生無限公司》

Best Original Film Score:

Sakamoto Ryuichi | Your Face《你的臉》

Teo Wei-yong | A Land Imagined《幻土》

Onn San | The Garden Of Evening Mists《夕霧花園》

Lu Luming | Detention《返校》

Lim Giong | Nina Wu《灼人秘密》

Best Original Film Song:

Lyricist: Gavin Lin; Composer: Alex Chang-chien; Performer: Lisang Pacidal Koyouan –  “A Kind Of Sorrow” | More Than Blue 《比悲傷更悲傷的故事》

Lyricist: Chung Mong-hong; Composer: Lin Sheng-xiang; Performer: Lin Sheng-xiang – “Distant Journey | A Sun《陽光普照》

Lyricist: Summer Lei; Composer: Lu Luming, Summer Lei; Performer: Summer Lei – “The Day After Rain” | Detention《返校》

Lyricist: Sandee Chan; Composer: Sandee Chan; Performer: Sandee Chan – “Nina Wu” | Nina Wu《灼人秘密》

Lyricist: Wong Yee-lam; Composer: Eman Lam; Performer: Stephy Tang – “My Prince Edward” | My Prince Edward《金都》

Best Film Editing:

Lai Hsiu-hsiung | A Sun《陽光普照》

Wenders Li, Kao Ming-sheng, Li Bin, Barfuss Hui | The Scoundrels《狂徒》

Daniel Hui | A Land Imagined《幻土》

Soo Mun-thye | The Garden Of Evening Mists《夕霧花園》

Shieh Meng-ju | Detention《返校》

Best Sound Effects:

Narubett Peamyai, Sidney Hu | The Scoundrels《狂徒》

R.T Kao, Aki Chen | We Are Champions《下半場》

Damien Guillaume, Gilles Benardeau | A Land Imagined《幻土》

Dennis Tsao, Book Chien | Detention《返校》

Li Danfeng, Chou Cheng, Morgan Yen | Nina Wu《灼人秘密》

Best Documentary:

The Tree Remembers 《還有一些樹》lau Kek-huat | Malaysia

Your Face《你的臉》 Tsai Ming-liang | Taiwan 

The Good Daughter 《阿紫》wu Yu-ying | Taiwan 

Bamboo Theatre 《戲棚》cheuk Cheung | Hong Kong

Last Year When The Train Passed By 《去年火車經過的時候》huang Pang-chuan | France, Taiwan 

Best Live Action Short:

Old Man And A Dog 《老人與狗》 Ryan Chan Hon-yan | Hong Kong 

Liu A, Sing A, And Bi Hong 《美芳》 Tshua Tsu-ting | Taiwan

Rebel Boy 《偷偷》Chen Yi-kai | Taiwan 

3 Generations 3 Days 《紅棗薏米花生》 Chu Hoi-ying | Hong Kong

Langit Budak Biru《蒼天少年藍》lim Kean-hian | Malaysia

Best Animated Feature:

No Nominees

Best Animated Short Film:

Hidden Zone 《隱匿的方寸空間》 Ng Chee-chong | Malaysia

My Father At Grandma’s Funeral 《看無風景》 Jhan Bo-jyun | Taiwan

Gold Fish 《金魚》fish Wang | Taiwan

Adorable 《可愛》 Chung Cheng-hsu | Taiwan, United Kingdom

The Lighthouse 《燈塔》jay Lei Pui-weng | Macau

Outstanding Taiwanese Filmmaker Of The Year:

Tang Shiang-chu 湯湘竹

Lifetime Achievement Award:

Wang Toon 王童

Jimmy Wang Yu 王羽

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