President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) sent his congratulations to Oscar winner Ang Lee (李安), saying Taiwan was “proud” and urging others to follow his example and boost the nation’s international image.
“I thank Ang Lee and all film industry people who have made an effort for Taiwan. I’d like to encourage everyone to work hard at promoting Taiwan to the world and to keep an international outlook,” Ma said.
In recognition of Lee’s expression of thanks to Taiwan and Greater Taichung at the Oscars ceremony on Sunday night, Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) said yesterday that the city would bestow honorary citizenship on Lee.
“I could not make this movie without the help of Taiwan. We shot there,” the 58-year-old director said on Sunday.
The speech in Los Angeles was played over and over on local news channels, with TV stations calling Lee the “Glory of Taiwan.”
Pingtung-born Lee’s success sparked an enthusiastic response from social media users.
“Just watching Ang Lee walk up to the stage had me shed a few tears, and when he mentioned the word ‘Taiwan’ I totally turned on the waterworks,” one person wrote on micro-blogging service Plurk.
Lee also sent special thanks to Taichung, where the majority of Life of Pi (少年PI的奇幻漂流) was filmed.
Hu said in a statement that Lee’s Oscar win showed Taiwan’s ability “to do many things well,” adding: “Taiwan deserves this.”
The movie included scenes filmed using a wave machine – currently the world’s largest – built in what used to be Greater Taichung’s Shueinan Airport. The city government also contributed NT$50 million (US1.6 million) to the film’s production costs.
Hu said that Lee was “a man of his word,” saying that he spoke to him on the telephone prior to the ceremony, and that Lee had said that he would definitely mention the city if he won.
Hu also said that Taiwan should show its appreciation of Lee, adding that he would be giving him honorary citizenship of Taichung.
Hu said people should be glad that a movie made by a Taiwanese director has enjoyed such global success, adding that he was certain more Taiwanese films would appear on the global stage.
Meanwhile, Shih Jing-wen (石靜文), head of the municipality’s Government Information Office, said Lee’s movie was worthy of respect.
Shih lauded the success of Life of Pi and said it had given the city government great confidence.
After his win, Lee encouraged other Asian and non-US filmmakers to strive for success in Hollywood.
“I think sometimes this disadvantage can be an advantage. The fact that I come from another culture makes me special,” he said.
In a post-acceptance press conference, Lee played up the film’s cosmopolitan crew.
“Ninety percent of the movie was shot in Taiwan. They gave us financial and physical help, but this was really an international film. I feel this film belonged to the world,” he said.