You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Chinese Film Awards: Golden Horses and Golden Roosters Pick Contrasting Winners

Taiwanese films “A Sun” and “Detention” were the big winners of Taipei’s Golden Horse Awards on Saturday. Wang Xiaoshuai’s “So Long, My Son” was the standout title at mainland China’s rival Golden Rooster Awards, held the same evening.

The two events collided because of a pro-Taiwanese independence acceptance speech at last year’s Golden Horse Awards, which are usually considered the most prestigious film prizes in Chinese-language film. That prompted Beijing to ban mainland industry players from attending this year’s ceremony in Taiwan, threaten to cut off access to China’s enormous movie market for any others who chose to participate, and schedule its Golden Rooster ceremony for the same evening.

The rival events offered a revealing contrast both in their choice of winners and the comments by some of the winners, who at the Golden Horse ceremony felt free to make politically oriented statements that would not have flown at the Golden Roosters.

Taiwanese films “A Sun” and “Detention” tied for the most honors at the Golden Horse Awards, with five wins apiece. “A Sun” walked away with the best narrative feature prize, as well as a best director win for Chung Mong-hong — his second, out of four nominations — and best leading and supporting actor prizes for Chen Yi-wen and Liu Kuan-ting, respectively. It also won for film editing. “Detention” earned the best new director award for filmmaker John Hsu, as well as best VFX, art direction and adapted screenplay, a category that had only three nominees this year instead of five.

Popular on Variety

A cinematic take on the popular survival horror video game of the same name from Red Candle Games, “Detention” is this year’s highest-grossing Taiwanese film and the territory’s 10th top-performing title overall, with ticket sales of $8.5 million. Set during Taiwan’s White Terror period of political persecution, the film has been banned in mainland China, both for its political subject matter and because one of Red Candle’s earlier video games contained an in-game poster that appeared to make fun of Chinese president Xi Jinping.

Malaysia’s Yeo Yann-yann won best actress for her turn as a Chinese teacher stuck in a bad, childless marriage in the Singaporean film “Wet Season,” while Winnie Chang took best supporting actress for her role in “The Teacher.” Tsai Ming-liang’s “Your Face” won best documentary, and Yeo Siew-hua nabbed a best original screenplay win for mystery thriller “A Land Imagined.”

The Golden Rooster Awards, long maligned as a government-backed event of no international consequence, mirrored the Berlin Film Festival in honoring both leads from Wang Xiaoshuai’s “So Long, My Son,” Wang Jingchun and Yong Mei, with best actor and best actress prizes. The film, a scathing, tear-jerking critique of the country’s brutal one-child policy, which was reversed in 2015, also won best screenplay.

Other Rooster choices ran counter to international accolades, however. “Red Flowers and Green Leaves,” a look at an arranged marriage of an ethnically Hui Muslim couple took the prize for best low-budget feature, beating out two titles that made it to Cannes this past May, Critics’ Week closer “Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains” and Directors’ Fortnight entry “To Live to Sing.” And “The Wind Guardians” stole the best animation crown from the Oscar long-listed “White Snake.” Sci-fi blockbuster “The Wandering Earth,” which grossed a massive $691 million in China but just $8.7 million in the rest of the world, was crowned best film.

Hong Kong director Dante Lam won best director for “Operation Red Sea,” a patriotic actioner made to laud the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. It opened in Chinese theaters back in February 2018.

Wang Zhifei was named best supporting actor for “The Bugle from Gutian,” another military-themed film made for a recent Communist anniversary, and which premiered in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, one of the centers of government power.

Newcomer Wen Muye won best directorial debut for the summer 2018 hit “Dying to Survive.” Wu Yufang won best supporting actress for “Send Me to the Clouds.”

“Us and Them,” a romantic drama directed by Taiwan’s Rene Liu — one of just two artists from the island to earn a nod at the event — received five nominations, but took home no awards.

More Film

  • The Island

    ‘The Island,’ ‘Calamity,’ 'Piano Player' Highlight Cartoon Movie 2020 Lineup (EXCLUSIVE)

    BARCELONA – Rémi Chayé’s “Calamity, a Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary,” Anca Damian’s “The Island,” Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal’s “They Shot the Piano Player,” and Enrique Gato’s “Tad the Lost Explorer and the Curse of the Mummy” are among the sixty-six projects from twenty countries to be pitched at the 22nd Cartoon Movie, Europe’s [...]

  • Kirby Dick Amy Ziering

    'On The Record,' Russell Simmons #MeToo Doc, Charts Course to Sundance After Oprah Exit

    Update: A spokesperson for Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering says the filmmaking team will participate in print and broadcast interviews at the Sundance film festival. The accusers featured in the film are weighing press options at this time. Earlier, a spokesperson for the film “On The Record” confirmed to Variety that only photo calls would [...]

  • Ariel Winograd'TOD@S CAEN' film premiere, Los

    Viacom International Studios Signs First Look Deal with Ariel Winograd (EXCLUSIVE)

    MADRID  — Adding to a powerful and still growing talent roster, Viacom International Studios (VIS) has clinched a first-look deal with Argentine writer-director Ariel Winograd whose latest movie, “The Heist of the Century,” has just become one of the biggest Argentine openers in history. The multi-year pact takes in the development and production of not [...]

  • William Bogert Dead: 'Small Wonder' Actor

    William Bogert, Who Appeared in 'War Games,' 'Small Wonder,' Dies at 83

    TV, film and theater actor William Bogert, who appeared in a recurring role on 1980s sitcom “Small Wonder” and in films such as “War Games,” died Jan. 12 in New York. He was 83. On “Small Wonder,” which ran from 1985 to 1989, Bogert played Brandon Brindle, the Lawsons’ neighbor and Harriet’s father who became [...]

  • 1917 Movie

    Why '1917' Is the Last Film That Should Be Winning the Oscar (Column)

    There’s a feeling I always get at the end of a long Oscar night when the movie that won isn’t a terrible choice, but it’s the safe, blah, MOR predictable choice, the one that conforms to the dullest conventional wisdom about the kinds of movies Oscar voters prefer, because in the core of their being [...]

  • Civil Rights Drama 'Praying for Sheetrock'

    Civil Rights Drama 'Praying for Sheetrock' in the Works as Feature Film (EXCLUSIVE)

    Enderby Entertainment is developing a feature film based on Melissa Fay Greene’s civil rights drama “Praying for Sheetrock,” Variety has learned exclusively. The non-fiction book, published in 1991, was a finalist for the National Book Award and won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize, Georgia Historical Society Bell Award and the ACLU National Civil [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content