The 43rd Golden Horse Awards (金馬獎) took place at the Taipei Arena (台北巨蛋) last night. While the awards were distributed fairly evenly among films from Taiwan, Hong Kong and China, Peter Chan Ho-sun (陳可辛) picked up top honors for Best Director for his musical Perhaps Love (如果，愛) and the highly favored After This Our Exile (父子) was named as Best Feature film, a great gift for veteran Hong Kong director Tam Ka-ming (譚家明), who had returned to the director's chair after 17 years.
Taiwan's only representative in the Best Feature Film and Best Director categories, up-and-coming director Su Chao-pin (蘇照彬) and his supernatural thriller Silk (詭絲), failed to secure any of the top honors at the festival. Neither did Johnnie To (杜琪鋒) manage to net any major awards for Exiled (放逐), despite its popularity with audiences.
With local actor Chang Chen (張震) cut out of competition due to the withdrawal of The Go Master (吳清源), there was a tight race for Best Leading Actor among three Hong Kong actors, with Aaron Kwok (郭富城) beating out previous title-holders Francis Ng (吳鎮宇) and Sam Lee (李璨琛). Winning the top honor for the second time, Kwok said he didn't expect to win this time since his character in After This Our Exile was a rather difficult role to tackle.
Zhou Xu (周迅) beat out strong contenders Siqin Gaowa (斯琴高娃) and Carina Lau (劉嘉玲), and walked away with Best Leading Actress for Perhaps Love. Always courteous, the Chinese actress got all misty-eyed when accepting the award.
There were plenty of surprises, not least Goum Ian Iskandar (吳景滔) who won the Best Supporting Actor award for his role in After This Our Exile. Best Supporting Actress went to a relative unknown Nikke Shie (謝欣穎) who beat out big-name star Zhao Wei (趙薇) and Hong Kong veteran theater actress Amy Chum (覃恩美) for her part in Reflections (愛麗絲的鏡子).
In the Best Supporting Actor category, Hong Kong actor Chapman To (杜汶澤) was up against three contenders who were also nominated in the Best New Performer category: Wu Zhong-tian (吳中天) and Joseph Chang (張孝全) for their parts in Eternal Summer (盛夏光年) and Goum Ian Iskandar. Bryant Chang (張睿家) walked away with Best New Performer for his role in the small-budget movie The Touch of Fate (指間的重量) by filmmaker Pan Zhi-yuan (潘志遠).
Surprise winner, Goum Ian Iskandar, an elementary school student, stuttered out thanks to his whole family and everyone involved in the film. Asked what he wanted to do in the future, the young actor said, "I want to be a tennis player," before breaking into tears of joy.
The surprise winner in the Best Short Film award category was local production The Secret in the Wind (風中的秘密) by Wang Yen-ni (王嬿妮), a student from the National Taiwan University of Arts Department of Motion Picture (國立台灣藝術大學電影學系), while plot-driven local documentary My Football Summer (奇蹟的夏天) beat out its only opponent Doctor (醫生) in the Best Documentary award category.
With an abundance of new faces and a high rate of nonattendance of award-receivers, it was a quiet night for such an important Chinese-language film festival. Taiwan's chances were considerably damaged by events leading up to the ceremony, which included the withdrawal of two high-profile productions. The first, I Don't Want to Sleep Alone (黑眼圈) by director Tsai Ming-liang (蔡明亮), had been scheduled to open the film festival. Tsai withdrew his film from the competition after it was criticized by the selection panel, the members of which suggested the auteur's obsession with style over substance left the film unable to move his audiences.