The nation yesterday celebrated film director Hou Hsiao-hsien (侯孝賢) winning the best director award at the Cannes Film Festival on Sunday night in France.
Hou’s film The Assassin (聶隱娘), a martial arts drama set in Tang Dynasty China, stars Taiwanese actress Shu Qi (舒淇) as a trained killer who is sent back to her home province to assassinate its governor, who is also the man she loves, portrayed by Taiwanese actor Chang Chen (張震).
In an interview with Chinese-language media after his win, Hou said that first impressions are more important than understanding the plot when it comes to movies, because images create feelings and thoughts.
Although some critics have said the film is not easy to understand, Hou said there are some people who think it is “very beautiful” and “very poetic.”
“Seeing a movie should not be just about understanding plots and details,” Hou said.
The Ministry of Culture yesterday said that Hou would receive NT$5 million (US$163,553) for winning the best director prize and another NT$500,000 for the film making it into the main competition of the festival.
The Assassin cost NT$450 million to make. The government gave Hou NT$45 million in subsidies during the production: NT$20 million in 2010 and NT$25 million in 2011.
Sunday night’s award was the first time the 68-year-old Hou has won the director’s award at Cannes. His film The Puppetmaster (戲夢人生) took the third-place Jury Prize at the 1993 festival.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was among those sending congratulations to Hou after the winners were announced at the festival.
“[His] innovation and colorful way of telling the story has inspired a new trend in the world of film and shone in international skies, bringing glory for Taiwan,” he said.
The top prize, the Palme d’Or. went to a French film, Dheepan, directed by Jacques Audiard. about Sri Lankan asylum-seekers trying to build new lives, one of two movies at the festival to focus on the plight of migrants.
A Holocaust drama, Son of Saul, by Hungarian director Laszlo Nemes, claimed the runner-up Grand Prize, while The Lobster, a surreal black comedy about modern love by Greece’s Yorgos Lanthimos, starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz, took the Jury Prize.
The best-actress trophy was won by Rooney Mara for her work in the lesbian love story Carol and Emmanuelle Bercot for Mon Roi (My King). France’s Vincent Lindon won best actor for his portrayal of a job-seeker trying to preserve his dignity in La Loi du Marche (The Measure of a Man).
Mexican director Michel Franco won best screenplay for Chronic, which stars British actor Tim Roth as a nurse caring for dying patients.
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