Director Lou Ye's Blind Massage wins six gongs at Golden Horse film awards

Taiwanese actress Chen Shiang-chyi celebrates winning the Best Leading Actress for "Exit" at the 51st Golden Horse Film Awards in Taipei Nov 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Taiwanese actress Chen Shiang-chyi celebrates winning the Best Leading Actress for "Exit" at the 51st Golden Horse Film Awards in Taipei Nov 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Chinese actress Wan Qian celebrates winning the Best Supporting Actress for Paradise In Service at the 51st Golden Horse Film Awards in Taipei Nov 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Chinese actress Wan Qian celebrates winning the Best Supporting Actress for Paradise In Service at the 51st Golden Horse Film Awards in Taipei Nov 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Chinese director and actor Chen Jianbin and his wife Angel Jiang celebrate Chen winning Best Supporting Actor for Paradise In Service, and Best New Director and Best Leading Actor for A Fool at the 51st Golden Horse Film Awards in Taipei Nov 22, 2014
Chinese director and actor Chen Jianbin and his wife Angel Jiang celebrate Chen winning Best Supporting Actor for Paradise In Service, and Best New Director and Best Leading Actor for A Fool at the 51st Golden Horse Film Awards in Taipei Nov 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Chinese actress Zhang Lei celebrates winning the Best New Performer for Blind Massage at the 51st Golden Horse Film Awards in Taipei Nov 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Chinese actress Zhang Lei celebrates winning the Best New Performer for Blind Massage at the 51st Golden Horse Film Awards in Taipei Nov 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
 Hong Kong director Ann Hui celebrates winning the Best Director for The Golden Era at the 51st Golden Horse Film Awards in Taipei Nov 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
 Hong Kong director Ann Hui celebrates winning the Best Director for The Golden Era at the 51st Golden Horse Film Awards in Taipei Nov 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Chinese director Lou Ye celebrates winning the Best Feature Film for "Blind Massage" at the 51st Golden Horse Film Awards in Taipei Nov 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Chinese director Lou Ye celebrates winning the Best Feature Film for "Blind Massage" at the 51st Golden Horse Film Awards in Taipei Nov 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Chinese director Lou Ye (third right) and crew members celebrate winning the Best Feature Film, Best New Performer, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing and Best Sound Effects for Blind Massage at the 51st Golden Horse Film
Chinese director Lou Ye (third right) and crew members celebrate winning the Best Feature Film, Best New Performer, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing and Best Sound Effects for Blind Massage at the 51st Golden Horse Film Awards in Taipei Nov 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

TAIPEI (AFP) - Chinese director Lou Ye's drama starring blind amateur actors as massage therapists scooped top honours at the Golden Horse Film Awards in Taiwan on Saturday, touted as the Chinese-language "Oscars".

Blind Massage, a portrayal of the romance and dreams of visually impaired massage therapists, was the biggest winner, with six gongs out of seven nominations.

It scooped awards including the coveted best feature film, best adapted screenplay and best new performer for Zhang Lei, herself a visually impaired masseuse.

"It took a long time to shoot the film. I want to thank everyone for their contributions and I want to thank the blind actors who are not here," Lou said after receiving the best film award at a glitzy ceremony in Taipei's Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall.

Lou was previously best known for his politically charged love story Summer Palace, which was screened at the Cannes Film Festival without government approval in 2006 and led to him receiving a five-year ban on film-making in China.

Veteran Chinese actor Chen Jianbin walked away with most personal awards, setting a record at the Golden Horse awards for winning both best leading actor and best new director for playing a farmer in his directorial debut A Fool.

He also bagged best supporting actor for his role as a homesick soldier in Taiwanese director Doze Niu's military drama Paradise In Service.

"I want to thank the Golden Horse jury for giving me this encouragement... I will continue to shoot more and better works with this encouragement," he said.

Taiwan's Chen Shiang-chyi beat the critics' favourites - Chinese stars Gong Li and Zhao Wei - to claim the best leading actress title for her role as a lonely middle-aged woman struggling with family and work problems in Exit.

"I want to thank the director for choosing me to play this role or I won't be standing here today... I love Taiwanese films and as a member of Taiwan's film (industry) I am happy to win the 51st Golden Horse best leading actress award."

Another surprise winner was Hong Kong's Ann Hui for directing The Golden Era, which is based on the real-life story of a famed Chinese female writer in the early 20th century.

"I didn't expect to win... I don't know what to say," Hui admitted her surprise after receiving her third best director statuette.

She last won the award in 2011 for the family drama A Simple Life.

However, Chinese director Diao Yinan's cop thriller Black Coal, Thin Ice, which led the pack with eight nominations and was a favourite for best film, took only the best art direction award.

Taiwan's hit baseball movie Kano, which had six nominations including best film and best actor for Japan's Masatoshi Nagase, walked away empty-handed.

China is traditionally a strong contender at the awards, but has faced increasing competition from Taiwan and Hong Kong in recent years.

This year mainland films and actors dominated the nominations in major categories and fared well.

Nearly 40 films were nominated for the 51st edition of the Golden Horse Film Awards, which are styled on the US Academy Awards but are decided by a jury along the lines of the Cannes film festival.

Chinese American actress and director Joan Chen chaired the jury this year.

WINNERS AT THE 51ST GOLDEN HORSE FILM AWARDS

Best Feature Film: Blind Massage

Best Director: Ann Hui, The Golden Era

Best Leading Actor: Chen Jianbin, A Fool

Best Leading Actress: Chen Shiang-chyi, Exit

Best Supporting Actor: Chen Jianbin, Paradise in Service

Best Supporting Actress: Wan Qian, Paradise in Service

Best New Director: Chen Jianbin, A Fool

Best New Performer: Zhang Lei, Blind Massage

Best Original Screenplay: Meeting Dr Sun

Best Screenplay Adaptation: Blind Massage

Best Cinematography: Blind Massage

Best Visual Effects: The Midnight After

Best Art Direction: Black Coal, Thin Ice

Best Makeup/Costume Design: Brotherhood of Blades

Best Action Choreography: As the Light Goes Out

Best Film Editing: Blind Massage

Best Original Film Score: Coming Home

Best Original Film Song: The Road We Pass, The Continent

Best Sound Effects: Blind Massage

Best Documentary: Cotton

Best Short Film: The Hammer and Sickle Are Sleeping

Outstanding Taiwanese Filmmaker of the Year: Jimmy Huang

Lifetime Achievement Award: Tian Feng