Michelle Chen (陳妍希), the leading actress in last year’s Taiwanese blockbuster You Are the Apple of My Eye (那些年，我們一起追的女孩) received the Star Asia Rising Star Award at the 11th New York Asian Film Festival on Sunday.
Chen, who became famous among Mandarin film viewers for the film, said she was proud to bring the romantic comedy to New York, where she studied for a year.
In the movie, adapted from director Giddens Ko’s (柯景騰) own romantic memories, the leading actor partly achieves what Ko was unable to do in real life — tell a high school classmate on whom he had a crush his true feelings for her.
The film is an excellent representation of modern Taiwanese movies, said Goran Topalovic, founder of the leading Asian film festival in the US.
“So we have a new generation of filmmakers, writers and actors who’re making films with local themes that really appeal to the audiences in Taiwan, but it also has appeal outside of Taiwan’s borders,” he said.
The film, which raked in more than NT$460 million (US$15.4 million) in Taiwan, also became the highest-grossing Mandarin film in Hong Kong after breaking the previous box office record of HK$61.27 million (US$7.9 million) set by Kung Fu Hustle (功夫).
In China, the romance has earned a gross of 75.8 million yuan (US$11.9 million) to become the best-selling Taiwanese film there.
Ko, a novelist-turned-director, also attended the film’s showing at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. He said the movie had gained widespread popularity because it was good.
Although Western audiences may not be familiar with the story’s background, they can still be moved by the pure love depicted in the film, Ko added.
Topalovic agreed, saying: “Teenagers in Taiwan are teenagers everywhere. Of course there’s some elements local to Taiwan, but when it comes to that pure expression of emotions and love and magic of first love, it’s the same everywhere.”