Taiwan's Hou targets Golden Horse as stars gather in Taipei

Taiwan actress Lu Xuefeng poses with her trophy after winning the Supporting Actress award during the 52nd Golden Horse Film Awards.
Taiwan actress Lu Xuefeng poses with her trophy after winning the Supporting Actress award during the 52nd Golden Horse Film Awards.PHOTO: AFP
Hong Kong actor Michael Ning poses with his trophy after winning the Best Supporting Actor award during the 52nd Golden Horse Film Awards.
Hong Kong actor Michael Ning poses with his trophy after winning the Best Supporting Actor award during the 52nd Golden Horse Film Awards.PHOTO: AFP
Taiwanese actor Lee Hong-chi displays a trophy after winning the Best New Performer during the 52nd Golden Horse Film Awards.
Taiwanese actor Lee Hong-chi displays a trophy after winning the Best New Performer during the 52nd Golden Horse Film Awards.PHOTO: AFP

TAIPEI (AFP) - Some of the biggest stars in Asian cinema gathered in Taipei on Saturday for this year's Golden Horse film awards, with Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien shooting for more glory after triumphing at Cannes.

Taiwanese film-maker Lee Ang, Japanese actor Satoshi Tsumabuki and Korean actress Ha Ji Won were among the celebrities to grace the red carpet at the awards, dubbed the Chinese-language Oscars.

Hundreds of excited and screaming fans braved the rain to see their idols arrive at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in downtown Taipei on Saturday evening.

This year's awards list is dominated by Taiwan, with around 40 per cent of nominations, one of the best homegrown showings in recent years.

Arriving at the event, Taiwanese film director Chen Kuo-fu, who is also the chair of this year's Golden Horse awards jury, said the country's film industry had experienced ups and downs in recent years but that he was "especially happy and excited this year".


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Taiwanese actress Shu Qi on the Golden Horse red carpet. PHOTO: REUTERS


Director Lee Ang and actress Hsu Feng on the Golden Horse red carpet. PHOTO: AFP


South Korean actress Ha Ji Won on the Golden Horse red carpet. PHOTO: AFP


Hong Kong actor Aaron Kwok on the Golden Horse red carpet. PHOTO: AFP


 Hong Kong actor Michael Ning on the Golden Horse red carpet. PHOTO: AFP


Hong Kong actor Eason Chan on the Golden Horse red carpet. PHOTO: AFP


Chinese actress Jessie Li on the Golden Horse red carpet. PHOTO: AFP


Taiwan actor Lee Kang-sheng (Left) and Taiwan actress Chen Shiang Chyi on the Golden Horse red carpet. PHOTO: AFP


Taiwanese actor Chang Chen and actress Shu Qi on the Golden Horse red carpet. PHOTO: AFP


Japanese actor Satoshi Tsumabuki on the Golden Horse red carpet. PHOTO: AFP


Taiwanese actress Gwei Lun-mei on the Golden Horse red carpet. PHOTO: AFP


 British actress Elaine Jin on the Golden Horse red carpet. PHOTO: AFP


Chinese director and actor Chen Jian-bin on the Golden Horse red carpet. PHOTO: AFP


 


 Taiwanese film director Hou Hsiao-hsien and his wife Tsao Bao-feng on the Golden Horse red carpet. PHOTO: AFP


Hong Kong actor Simon Yam on the Golden Horse red carpet. PHOTO: AFP


Taiwan actress Karena Lam on the Golden Horse red carpet. PHOTO: AFP


Chinese film director Jia Zhang-ke on the Golden Horse red carpet. PHOTO: AFP


Chinese actress Zhao Tao on the Golden Horse red carpet. PHOTO" AFP


 Chinese actor Deng Chao on the Golden Horse red carpet. PHOTO: REUTERS


 Taiwanese model and actress Lin Chi-ling on the Golden Horse red carpet. PHOTO: REUTERS


Actress Sylvia Chang on the Golden Horse red carpet. PHOTO: REUTERS


Taiwanese actress Tiffany Ann Hsu on the Golden Horse red carpet. PHOTO: REUTERS


Taiwan actress Lu Xuefeng on the Golden Horse red carpet. PHOTO: AFP

Hou's The Assassin leads the field with 11 nominations for the awards.

The movie's nominations include best film, best director, best leading actress, best adapted screenplay and best cinematography.

Set in ninth-century China, The Assassin is a slow-burning minimalist movie with Taiwanese megastar Shu Qi playing a highly trained female assassin sent back to her home province to kill its governor, who is also the man she loves.

"I'm really glad director Hou gave this opportunity to challenge myself," Shu Qi said.

Hou won the best director gong for the film at Cannes in May and has since said he is hoping the movie will garner an Oscar.

Also up for best film are Thanatos, Drunk from Taiwanese director Chang Tso-chi, a drama about two sons of an alcoholic mother and their dysfunctional lives; Hong Kong director Philip Yung's crime thriller Port Of Call; black-and-white movie Tharlo, the tale of a shepherd by Tibetan director Pema Tseden; and Mountains May Depart, a family saga from Chinese director Jia Zhang-ke.

Film critics have praised the strong field, but Hou is favourite to win.

"I'm not saying the other films are not good - they are all good, but not good enough to take on The Assassin," Kelly Yang, a Taipei-based cinema critic, told AFP.

Hou's foray into ancient China tapped "fundamental human nature, which is universal", says Yang.

"(He) tries to present abstract Zen philosophy through his characters and does a brilliant job."

Hou will also be awarded Outstanding Taiwanese Film-maker of the Year at the ceremony on Saturday, for what organisers describe as his "achievement and uncompromised perseverance".

The Golden Horse best actress category will see a battle between Shu Qi of The Assassin and Hong Kong star Karena Lam, who plays a woman struggling to cope after her fiance is killed in a car accident in Zinnia Flower.

Best actor contenders include 25-year-old Lee Hong-chi, who plays one of the sons in Thanatos, Drunk, and China's Feng Xiaogang - better known as a director - for his role as an ageing street kingpin in the film Mr Six.

In addition to Hou, Chang Tso-chi and Pema Tseden are among the favourites for the best director award.

Thirty-nine films were nominated for the 52nd edition of the Golden Horse Film Awards. While they are styled on the US Academy Awards, the winners are decided by a jury, along the lines of the Cannes film festival.