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Golden Horse Awards Nominations: Midi Z, ‘Godspeed’ Lead The Contenders

Nominations for the Golden Horse Awards, announced Saturday evening in Taiwan, will pose plenty of problems for mainland Chinese censors and broadcasters. The contenders for the most prestigious prizes in Chinese-language cinema contain a large dose of banned actors and films whose liberal politics mean they cannot be mentioned in the People’s Republic.

Topping the list with eight nominations including one for best film was “Godspeed,” a dark Taiwanese comedy about a drug smuggler who takes a ride with the wrong taxi driver. The film stars veteran Taiwanese actor Leon Dai, whose recent leading role had to be cut out of “No Other Love” in order to appease mainland nationalist sentiment.

Other contenders for the best film prize are: the Johnnie To-produced “Trivisa;” Feng Xiaogang’s “I Am Not Madame Bovary;” “The Road To Mandalay,” by Midi Z; and “The Summer Is Gone.”

Best director nominees are: “Godspeed” director Chung Mong-hong; Johnnie To for “Three;” Feng Xiaogang; Hong Kong’s Derek Tsang, director of “Soul Mate;” and Midi Z.

“Soul Mate” a mainland-set drama about early womanhood, scored seven nominations including one each for its two lead actresses Zhou Dongyu and Ma Sichun.

Collecting six nominations each were “Soul on a String,” a mystical exploration of Tibetan culture by China’s Zhang Yang, and “Mandalay,” a drama about two illegal Burmese immigrants in Thailand. The film stars Kai Ko, who won a Golden Horse award for his debut role in “You Are The Apple of My Eye,” but who has subsequently been banned in China, having been caught in the same drugs bust as Jaycee Chan.

Receiving five nominations each are Zhang Dalei’s “The Summer is Gone;” “Detective Chinatown,” the mainland Chinese smash hit comedy which is banned in Thailand where much of it was filmed, and “Madame Bovary,” which is highly critical of the Chinese justice system and recently had its release date pushed back in unexplained circumstances.

Making another item for Chinese censors to bleep out of their coverage is the best documentary nomination for “Yellowing,” a chronicle of the 2014 civic unrest in Hong Kong. The film’s politics have made it too sensitive for Hong Kong theaters to program, and producers have resorted to guerrilla tactics and screenings in non-commercial venues.

With his name on “City of Jade,” another of the best documentary nominees, Midi Z will receive a special Golden Horse award as the ‘outstanding Taiwanese filmmaker of the year.’ The director was born in Myanmar and arrived in Taiwan age 16. His four features (which include “Return to Burma,” and “Poor Folk”) and two documentaries have toured the festival circuits and won an impressive collection of prizes. His 2014 effort “Ice Poison” was selected by Taiwan as its nominee for the foreign-language Oscars.

The prizes will be announced at a ceremony in Taiwan on Nov. 26.

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