Fri, Nov 06, 2009 - Page 13 News List

Golden Horse seeks new pastures

With more than 200 movies screened over an extended period of three weeks, Taiwan’s biggest annual film festival aims to stay on top of the game by wooing younger audiences and providing forums for industry professionals



Twenty-nine years have passed since the inception of the Golden Horse Film Festival (台北金馬影展) in 1980. For a leading cinema showcase approaching 30, remaining attractive to younger generations of festivalgoers is a must if it wants to avoid the glue factory.

Event organizers say Golden Horse retains its vigor through theme-oriented programs and specially curated sections that reflect individual curators’ viewpoints, are connected to current events, and remain relevant in a changing world.

“Older festivalgoers may only see films by directors they know, but young audiences go to a movie for all kinds of reasons. As curators, our job is not only to introduce quality works but to bring in new ideas,” said Wen Tien-hsiang (聞天祥), executive director of the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival Executive Committee (台北金馬影展執行委員會), which is responsible for all of the festival events including the Golden Horse Awards.

“We can’t dwell in 1980s and 1990s while our audiences have already embraced the aesthetics of the 21st century,” he added.

Aside from the usual screenings of big-name directors’ latest works and award-winning movies from the international film festival circuit, Golden Horse is showing more and more movies under a bulging variety of categories and sub-categories. These range from the popular Rock ’n’ Roll Apocalypse section to this year’s expanded Wonderland segment featuring movies that are outrageous, weird and X-rated.

Wen says the segments are a way to create “niche markets” within a comprehensive film festival so festivalgoers can easily find movies that interest them. For example, audiences looking for extreme viewing experiences can go to tomorrow’s Night of the Vampire, which screens three vampire flicks from South Korea, Japan and the UK from 11:50pm to 6:10am.


WHAT: 2009 Golden Horse Film Festival (2009台北金馬影展)

WHEN: Until Nov. 26

WHERE: Shin Kong Cineplex (新光影城), 36 Xining S Rd, Taipei City (台北市西寧南路36號) and Vie Show Cinemas, Xinyi District (信義威秀影城), 18 Songshou Rd, Taipei City (台北市松壽路18號)

ADMISSION: NT$230 per screening, NT$200 for students with ID and people with disabilities, available through ERA ticket outlets or at


This year the festival takes a look inside Taiwan’s movie industry, with Mark Ping-bing Lee (李屏賓) as one of the filmmakers in focus. Years of working with such Taiwanese directors as Hou Hsiao-hsien (侯孝賢) and Wang Tung (王童) have made Lee a prominent international cinematographer. Koreeda Hirokazu from Japan, Gilles Bourdos of France and several other directors who have worked with Lee will attend the event to pay tribute to the respected artist, while Let the Wind Carry Me (乘著光影旅行), a documentary about Lee, will make its world premiere at the festival.

Golden Horse regulars will notice that the number of this year’s filmmakers-in-focus programs has expanded from the standard two to six. This move is part of Wen’s plan to foster diversity by drawing attention to film professionals other than directors, including Indian composer A. R. Rahman, French actress Isabelle Huppert and Mark Ping-bing Lee.

An influential pioneer of American independent cinema, John Cassavetes, whose works have never been systematically screened at a film festival in Taiwan, has been chosen to serve as an interesting comparison to such local filmmakers as Cheng Yu-chieh (鄭有傑) and Leon Dai (戴立忍), who, like Cassavetes, work both as actors and directors.

“Since Taiwanese cinema has gone completely independent [as opposed to studio moviemaking], Cassavets can be a very good example for local filmmakers,” said Wen. “He is adept at creating intensity through simple devices and using the language of independent filmmaking to establish a dialogue with genre cinema.”

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