Johnnie To’s suspense-thriller “Life Without Principle” swept the 49th Golden Horse awards in Taiwan on Saturday, winning best director, best actor and best original screenplay, while Mainland China’s “Beijing Blues” won best pic and a brace of technical awards.
The Golden Horse awards are the biggest Chinese-language kudofest, with more than 30 films from Taiwan, China, and Hong Kong competing, and the event is often described as the Chinese Oscars, although awards are decided by jury.
Gao Qunshu’s “Beijing Blues,” about police and con artists in Beijing, also took awards for cinematography and film editing.
“This is really unexpected… I am only an amateur director who shot a few films. I didn’t expect that my name would ever be associated with the Golden Horse,” said Gao at the ceremony in the Yilan Performance Arts Center in northeastern Taiwan.
“Life Without Principle” will be Hong Kong’s entry for the foreign-language Oscar, and it focuses on three characters as the financial crisis bites: a bank teller-turned-financial analyst, a petty thief aiming to make it big in the futures market and a middle-class police officer.
Lau Ching Wan, accepting the best actor award, quipped: “Acting is not about awards. No, who am I kidding? — it is about the awards.”
Taiwan’s Gwei Lun-mei became the first Taiwanese winner of the leading actress nod in six years for her role in the love story “Gf*Bf,” aka “Girlfriend Boyfriend.”
“This award is a big encouragement for me. I love making movies, and I will keep doing this for a long time,” said a tearful Gwei. “Gf*Bf” also won the audience choice award.
Strongly fancied in the run-up to the awards was “Touch of the Light,” with Sandrine Pinna in the running for lead actress. In the end Chang Jun-chi took the new director nod for the film about a blind Taiwanese pianist, Huang Yu-siang. Huang played himself in the pic and won an outstanding filmmaker award.
“How would you know how far you could go if you never try?” Huang said, quoting the movie, as he accepted his award.
Mainland Chinese helmer Lou Ye was back with the satire “Mystery,” after a five-year ban for his controversial political love story “Summer Palace.” The pic led the nominations race with seven and ultimately won new performer for actress Qi Xi and original film score.
The Golden Horse awards take place in self-ruled Taiwan, and the jury is made up of Taiwanese, mainland Chinese and Hong Kong judges. They judge Chinese-language films from Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore and China, including Hong Kong and Macau. Films from Mainland China were first permitted to take part during the 1990s. All five movies in the best new helmer category were produced in Taiwan, and the resurgence of the Taiwanese biz was mentioned at numerous points during the awards ceremony.
And the winners are:
Film: “Beijing Blues”
Director: Johnnie To, “Life Without Principle”
Actor: Lau Ching-wan, “Life Without Principle”
Actress: Gwei Lun-mei, “Gf*Bf”
Supporting Actor: Ronald Cheng, “Vulgaria.”
Supporting Actress: Liang Jing, “Design of Death”
Best new performer: Qi Xi, “Mystery”
Documentary: “China Heavyweight”
Editing: Yang Hongyu, “Beijing Blues”
Original screenplay: Milkyway Creative Team, Au Kin Yee, Wong King
Fai, “Life Without Principle”
Screenplay Adaptation: Bao Jingjing, “Love Is Not Blind”
Cinematography: Wu Di, “Beijing Blues”
New Director: Chang Jung-Chi, “Touch of the Light”
Short Film: “The Home Gleaners”
Visual Effects: Wook Kim, Frankie Chung, Josh Cole, “Flying Swords of Dragon Gate”
Sound Effects: Kinson Tsang, Lai Chi Hung, “Nightfall”
Action Choreography: Chin Ka Lok, Wong Wai Fai, Ng Hoi Tong, “Motorway”
Art Direction: Lin Mu, “Design of Death”
Makeup and Costume Design: Stanley Cheung, “The Bullet Vanishes”
Original Film Song: “Romancing in Thin Air,” “DoReMi”
Original Film Score: Peyman Yazdanian, Johann Johannsson, “Mystery”
Outstanding Taiwanese filmmaker of the year: Huang Yu-Siang
Best film by audience vote: “Gf*Bf”
Lifetime achievement award: Shih Chun