Taiwanese auteur Hou Hsiao-hsien is the man to beat at this year's Golden Horse Awards. His period wuxia drama, The Assassin, has earned the most nominations - 11.
They include nods for Best Feature Film, Best Director and Best Leading Actress for Shu Qi in the title role. He was earlier named Best Director for the film at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in May.
Hou, known for his realist and minimalist style, is also receiving the Outstanding Taiwanese Filmmaker of the Year accolade and his body of work includes the following feted titles.
A TIME TO LIVE, A TIME TO DIE (1985)
This was inspired by Hou's own coming-of-age story and is part of a trilogy that includes A Summer At Grandpa's (1984) and Dust In The Wind (1986). It is set during the years 1947 to 1965, spanning the protagonist's childhood and college entrance exam, and the use of Hakka and Minnan in the movie was unusual. The film won several international awards, including the FIPRESCI Prize at the 1986 Berlin International Film Festival.
A CITY OF SADNESS (1989)
Widely regarded as Hou's masterpiece, this historical drama starring Tony Leung Chiu Wai as a deaf-mute was the first Taiwanese film to win the prestigious Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. It was an act of courage to deal with the ruling Kuomintang government's tyranny post-1945 and it was the first film to depict the anti-government uprising that was the 228 Incident of 1947.
THREE TIMES (2005)
Prior to the Assassin, Taiwanese actress Shu Qi had worked with Hou on Millennium Mambo (2001) and on Three Times. In Mambo, she plays Vicky, a bar hostess torn between two men. Here, Shu and actor Chang Chen, who is also in The Assassin, appear in three chronologically separate love stories. Three Times won for Best Taiwanese Film of the Year, Best Taiwanese Filmmaker and Best Actress at the Golden Horse Awards.