The executive committee of the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival, organizers of the annual prize ceremony, said Monday that their decision to reward Hou was a unanimous one. They said it recognizes his “distinguished accomplishment in cinematic aesthetics and his dedication to passing on the heritage of cinematic arts.” The award will be presented at the 57th edition of the Golden Horse Film Awards, on Nov. 21.
Hou founded the Golden Horse Film Academy in 2009, aiming to cultivate a young generation of filmmakers in Taiwan.
The internationally-acclaimed filmmaker began his career in 1973 as a script supervisor, growing in to roles such as scriptwriter and assistant director before making his debut as a film director with the romantic comedy “Cute Girl” in 1980. Hou then went on to become a leading figure of the Taiwan New Cinema movement throughout the 1980s, with titles including “A Time to Live and a Time to Die” (1985) and “Dust in the Wind” (1986).
Hou’s 1989 masterpiece “A City of Sadness” won the Golden Lion award at Venice Film Festival, the first Taiwanese film to claim the coveted award. Set against the backdrop of the Kuomintang government taking over the island after Japan’s colonial rule in the mid-1940s, the historical drama was released just two years after Taiwan’s 38 years of martial law had come to an end. It was one of the first to shed light on dark chapter in the island’s history.
A three-time winner of the Golden Horse’s best director, Hou won the Cannes Film Festival jury prize with “The Puppetmaster” (1993), a biopic of puppet master Li Thian-lok who lived through Japan’s colonial rule of Taiwan. Hou was also named best director at Cannes in 2015 for martial arts epic “The Assassin.”