Hou Hsiao-hsien (侯孝賢), winner of the best director award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, yesterday discussed the difficulties filmmakers face in getting funding when he received the Order of Brilliant Star from President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).
“To many people, the name Hou Hsiao-hsien has become synonymous with Taiwanese movies,” Ma said when conferring the award on Hou in recognition of his achievements in the film industry.
Hou took the opportunity to bring to the attention of the president the most difficult problem that Taiwanese filmmakers face — fund-raising — citing The Assassin (聶隱娘), for which he bagged the best director award, as an example.
While achieving new breakthroughs in filmmaking is a big challenge for many directors, Hou said he found the market-oriented culture of the nation’s film industry an even bigger obstacle.
Taiwanese movies made in cooperation with China’s film industry are usually beset by rumors and negative publicity, but Taiwanese filmmakers sometimes have no other choice given limited funding at home, Hou said.
Half of the financing for The Assassin came from China, he said.
“I hope that if the public sector has a better understanding of the situation, it can work with enterprises to institutionalize financial support for the movie industry, students and nascent directors,” he added.
Hou received the Order of the Brilliant Star, second class, as opposed to the practice of conferring the third-class order on first-time recipients.
“A third-class medal would have failed to show the respect I have [for Hou],” the president said.
Ma said he was deeply touched by Hou’s remarks and “felt quite ashamed” that despite increases in the budget to boost the development of the cultural and film industries, it still fell short of public expectations.
The budget has not reached a satisfactory level because of economic and financial considerations, Ma said.
The president added that he was happy to see Central Motion Pictures Corp chairman Guo Tai-chiang (郭台強) and Pegatron Corp chairman Tung Tsu-hsien (童子賢) invest in The Assassin, saying they were discerning investors in making investments in films.
Speaking at a news conference later yesterday to celebrate the awards The Assassin received at the film festival in France, Hou said that seeking cooperation with the Chinese film industry is not just a question of “having no choice, but a must.”
Hou said he can make a film with very limited funds and without resources from China, but the reality is that such cooperation is a way to ensure as endless source of funding for filmmakers to make one film after another, he said.
Speaking in Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese), Hao said he is Taiwanese and accepting Chinese funding for Taiwanese films does not make Taiwanese filmmakers less glorious.
His movies have only one nationality, because they are produced in “filmdom (電影國)” he said.
Additional reporting by Tsao Nien-tsu
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