Taiwan indie drama wins Chinese-language 'Oscars'

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The Independent Culture

Taiwanese director Leon Dai's low budget family drama on Saturday swept the Golden Horse Film Awards, considered the Chinese-language "Oscars," bagging the best picture and best director gongs.

"I want to thank my parents, my mentor Edward Yang and the actors of the film," an emotional Dai told the audience in Taipei.

His "No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti," based on the true story of a diver's desperate fight for custody of his daughter, was the first local movie in seven years to win best picture.

"The film was nurtured by Taiwan and it absorbed full energy from this land," he said earlier while picking up a special outstanding Taiwanese film of the year award for the movie, which has a Spanish title meaning "I Can't Live Without You."

Dai beat more acclaimed rivals - including Malaysian art-house director Tsai Ming-liang and Hong Kong's Clara Law as well as China's Guan Hu.

The independent film, which also brought a best original screenplay prize for Dai, was shot in black and white and cost only six million Taiwan dollars (187,500 US dollars) to produce.

However, the night's biggest surprise came when the best actor gong went to two people - a split unprecedented in the Golden Horse awards' 46-year history.

Huang Bo from the critically-acclaimed Chinese black comedy "Cow" and Hong Konger Nick Cheung from the action flick "The Beast Stalker" shared the top honour.

Chinese actress Li Bingbing outshone strong rival Zhou Xun, both nominated for the espionage thriller "The Message," to be crowned best actress.

"I didn't expect to be recognised and I didn't think about what I would say.... I feel really lucky to be here," said a tearful Li.

China's Wang Xueqi won best supporting actor prize for "Forever Enthralled," a biopic of legendary Peking opera singer Mei Lanfang, while Yu Shaoqun took best new performer for playing the teenage Mei.

Art-house director Tsai's "Face" ("Visage"), the first of a new series of works produced by The Louvre, won best art direction as well as best make-up and costume for French designer Christian Lacroix.

The film's veteran lighting designer Lee Lung-yue, meanwhile, was recognised with the outstanding Taiwanese film-maker of the year accolade.

Law, nominated four times for best director, again walked away empty-handed as her art-house romance "Like A Dream" won no prizes despite leading the race with nine nods.

Other Hong Kongers were luckier, with Wai Ying-hung winning best supporting actress ("At the End of Daybreak") and documentary maker Cheung King-wai taking best documentary and two technical awards for "KJ: music and life."

Hong Kong action star Sammo Hung scooped the best action choreography prize for the blockbuster "Ip Man" on the life of the mentor of kung fu icon Bruce Lee.

The Golden Horse Awards, broadcast by Chinese-language channels as far away as Canada, are styled on the US Academy Awards but are decided by a jury along the lines of the Cannes film festival.