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Oscars: Taiwan Sends ‘Great Buddha+’ Into Foreign-Language Contention

Taiwan has selected “The Great Buddha+” as its contender in the foreign-language category of the Oscars. The film is a dark comedy that marks the feature directing debut of Huang Hsin-yao.

The film, about a night security guard at a Buddha statue factory and his recyclable-collecting friend who witness dark secrets of the factory owner via some dashcam videos, was a firm favorite on the 2017 festival circuit and collected numerous awards.

The picture debuted at its native Taipei Film Festival, where it won six prizes. It won the NETPAC award in Toronto last year and collected five Golden Horse awards. The Hong Kong Film Awards named it the best film from mainland China and Taiwan.

Variety reviewer, Maggie Lee said: “this ballad of sad losers mixed with satire on parochial politics is convulsively funny yet uncompromisingly bleak, bridging art with entertainment. Arguably the best film to emerge from a year of exciting resurgence in Taiwan.”

“The comical portrayal of Taiwanese people on television or in film often fail to convey the true nature of our lives. There are many laughable things in our lives, and when they are depicted in the movies, they make us laugh out loud. But somehow I feel that these laughable things actually stem from sadness,” said Huang in a statement

Huang is a former documentary maker, known for a satirical tone. His non-fiction films include “Bluffing,” “Tuvalu,” and the 2015 work “Cloud” which has only 55 shots, no dialog, music or protagonist.

The “+” is a reference not to iPhones but rather recognition that the feature is an expansion of Huang’s previous short film, “The Great Buddha.” International sales are handled by MandarinVision.

Taiwan has regularly submitted films for Oscars consideration. Ang Lee’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” won the award, while his “Eat Drink Man Woman,” and “The Wedding Banquet,” both received nominations. In 2011 “Seediq bale” made the January shortlist, but was not nominated.

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