Director Tsai Ming-liang (蔡明亮) won the Grand Jury Prize for his latest film, Stray Dogs (郊遊), at the 70th Venice Film Festival on Saturday.
During his acceptance speech, the 55-year-old thanked the jury and the public for supporting his film.
Stray Dogs stars Lee Kang-sheng (李康生), a regular in Tsai’s films, as a father who struggles to survive with his son and daughter on the streets of Taipei.
It maintains the slow pace that typifies Tsai’s work, including a 12-minute scene in which Lee eats rotten vegetables.
Stray Dogs is the director’s first film since his 2009 production, Face (臉), which was nominated for an award at the Cannes Film Festival.
He previously tasted success at the Venice Film Festival in 1994, winning the top prize — the Golden Lion award — for his second feature film Vive L’Amour (愛情萬歲).
Tsai, who has refused to make commercial films and has long expressed frustration over mainstream audiences’ tastes, said earlier in the week that Stray Dogs could be his last film.
Born in Malaysia, Tsai came to Taiwan after graduating from high school to study drama and film, and began writing plays while a student. His works often convey the feelings of abandonment and loneliness central to life in modern, urban societies.
In 1991, Tsai discovered Lee at a video game store in Taipei, and the actor has appeared in all of the director’s films since then.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) and Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) all sent congratulatory statements to Tsai after his win.
“A low-spirited Taiwan is in great, great need of such joy,” Lung said.
Stray Dogs received more than NT$6 million (US$201,700) in funding from the Ministry of Culture.
This years’ Golden Lion award went to Italian director Gianfranco Rosi’s Sacro GRA, the first documentary ever to win the honor.