'Life of Pi' helmer upbeat on home island Taiwan, says state support needed

BEIJING

Taiwanese helmer Ang Lee, who has plied his trade with Oscar-winning success in Hollywood for many years but still retains strong links to his home, says the biz on the self-ruled island needs state support.

Lee is very much seen as an American helmer now after the success of “Brokeback Mountain,” “The Ice Storm” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”

His 3D epic “Life of Pi” was largely shot in Taiwan and Lee has been a vocal advocate for the island’s services and locations. But without government support, it will be hard to sustain the film industry, he believes.

“Our market and film industry are relatively weak,” the helmer said after a meeting with Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai in Taipei, saying that knowledge and experience in Taiwan’s filmmaking industry is not passed down.

“I hope the Hollywood experience can take root and blossom here,” he said in Taipei, shortly before a special screening of “Life of Pi.”

This month he opened Rhythm & Hues Studios’ vfx center in Kaohsiung, which plans to employ 200 local digital artists to work on Hollywood projects.

Lee, who did his military service in Kaohsiung, told local media, “I never thought that one day I could come back here to engage in my favorite work with a group of filmmaking partners, in this setting of sea, harbor and old warehouses.”

R&H also plans to build a next-generation cloud computing facility in Kaohsiung to service the vfx and animation industry.

Asked what advice he would give to Chinese helmers on how to win an Academy award, he said, “China should create its own Oscars,” because the film biz in Greater China was one of the few that could compete with Hollywood.

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