TAIPEI (AFP) - Chinese-language cinema A-listers and stars from Japan and Hollywood gathered in Taiwan on Saturday for this year's Golden Horse Film Awards, with movies from mainland China dominating the nominations.
Touted as the Chinese-language equivalent to the Oscars, the ceremony will see Chinese star Gong Li, Hollywood actress Lily Collins and Japanese actor Masatoshi Nagase among the famous names on the red carpet ahead of a glamorous ceremony in the capital Taipei.
The mainland is traditionally a strong contender at the awards, but has faced increasing competition from Taiwan and Hong Kong in recent years.
This time Chinese cop thriller "Black Coal, Thin Ice" leads the pack.
Directed by China's Diao Yinan, it has eight nods and already took the Golden Bear award for best film in Berlin in February.
The film tells the story of a washed-up ex-cop investigating a series of grisly murders and is nominated for best film, best director, best leading actor and best leading actress.
Two other mainland movies - "A Fool" and "Blind Massage" - are also up for the coveted best film title, competing against Chinese-Hong Kong co-production "The Golden Era" and Taiwanese baseball drama "Kano".
"Blind Massage," directed by China's Lou Ye, has seven nominations for its portrayal of blind massage therapists, featuring some blind amateur actors.
"Kano" follows closely with six nods.
For best director, three Chinese nominees - Diao, Wang Xiaoshuai ("Red Amnesia") and Lou ("Blind Massage") are vying against Myanmar-born, Taiwan-based Midi Z ("Ice Poison") and Hong Kong's Ann Hui ("The Golden Era").
Veteran Chinese actress Gong Li, the star of Hollywood movies "Miami Vice" and "Memoirs of a Geisha", is seeking her first Golden Horse best leading actress title for her role as an amnesiac woman waiting for her husband in acclaimed Chinese director Zhang Yimou's drama "Coming Home".
Her rivals are compatriot Tang Wei ("The Golden Era") and Zhao Wei ("Dearest") as well as Taiwan's Gwei Lun-mei ("Black Coal, Thin Ice") and Chen Shiang-chyi ("Exit").
Japan's Nagase, the first non-Chinese star nominated for best leading actor, will face some of Chinese-language cinema's top talents, including China's Chen Jianbin ("A Fool") and Liao Fan ("Black Coal, Thin Ice,") as well as Hong Konger Sean Lau ("The White Storm") and Taiwan's Chang Chen ("Brotherhood of Blades").
Nearly 40 films are nominated for the 51st Golden Horse Film Awards, to be held in the landmark Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, with the ceremony due to start at 7.00 pm (1100 GMT).
While they are styled on the US Academy Awards, the winners are decided by a jury, along the lines of the Cannes film festival. Chinese American actress and director Joan Chen chairs the jury this year.