Golden Horse Awards: Singapore’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar submission wins Best Picture
Surprisingly, the 2013 Golden Horse Award for Best Picture was given to 29-year-old Singaporean director Anthony Chen’s feature film debut Ilo Ilo at a ceremony held Saturday night, Nov. 23, in Taipei. Four rounds of voting were needed for jury members to reach their decision.
“Singapore is a very little country and we made this film with a small budget,” said the London-based Chen in his acceptance speech, “so we never dreamed of winning a Best Picture prize. The other nominees are the masters I learned from when I was in film school, so I’m very honored and thankful to them too.”
The directors of Ilo Ilo‘s fellow Best Picture contenders – and Anthony Chen’s “masters” – were Johnnie To, for Drug War; Wong Kar-Wai, for The Grandmaster; Tsai Ming-liang, for Stray Dogs; and absentee Jia Zhangke, for A Touch of Sin – which has yet to open in China, apparently due to government foot-dragging.
Besides its Best Picture win, Ilo Ilo also took home Golden Horse Awards for Best Debut Director Chen, Best Original Screenplay (also Anthony Chen), and Best Supporting Actress (Yeo Yann Yann).
Set in Singapore during Asia’s 1997 financial crisis, Ilo Ilo portrays the deepening bond between a 10-year-old Singaporean boy (Koh Jia Ler) and his Filipino caretaker (Angeli Bayani). Meanwhile, the boy’s parents (Chen Tianwen and Yeo Yann Yann) attempt to save both their marriage and their finances. Chen’s screenplay was inspired by his own experiences as a little boy.
A mere two years ago, flat broke and with no career prospects, Anthony Chen considered abandoning his dream of becoming a filmmaker to take up either a teaching position or a government job. His wife came to the rescue. “She used to say that Ang Lee’s wife supported him for seven years,” he told China’s Central News Agency, “but we have only been married for four. That means you still have three years.”
The Camera d’Or winner at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival – in fact, the first Singaporean film to win any award at Cannes – Ilo Ilo is also Singapore’s entry for the 2014 Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award.
More Golden Horse Awards 2013 winners
Among the other 2013 Golden Horse Award winners were Best Actor Lee Kang-sheng and Best Director Tsai Ming-liang for the drama Stray Dogs, the deliberately paced story of an alcoholic man and his two children in the streets of Taipei. A few months ago, Stray Dogs received the Grand Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival. Also: Li Xuejian was the Best Supporting Actor for Back to 1942, Kuo Shu-yau was the Best New Performer for Step Back to Glory, and Jackie Chan walked away with the Golden Horse for Best Action Choreography for the blockbuster CZ12.
The Golden Horse for Best Adapted Screenplay was handed to Li Qiang for So Young, Chi Po-lin’s popular Beyond Beauty: Taiwan from Above was the Best Documentary, while the Lifetime Achievement Award went to Taiwanese actress Chen Chen (a.k.a. Zhen Zhen), who was featured in more than 60 films – including Everlasting Glory, Love in Hawaii, and Women in Love – between 1966 and her retirement from films in 1984.
Zhang Ziyi: Golden Horse Awards Best Actress
Although Anthony Chen’s Ilo Ilo took home the top award at the 50th Golden Horse Awards, Wong Kar-Wai’s Berlin Film Festival opening gala film The Grandmaster was this year’s big winner: six awards, including the Best Actress trophy for Zhang Ziyi. That marked Zhang’s first victory, after three previous nominations: Best Actress for Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon in 2000 and for 2046 in 2004; Best Supporting Actress for Forever Enthralled in 2009.
“It was a very long and suffering journey making The Grandmaster, but now I’m very happy,” Zhang said in her acceptance speech. In Wong’s Hong Kong-Chinese martial arts drama she plays the daughter of a fighting master, who, so as to restore her family’s honor, challenges grandmaster Ip Man (Tony Leung) to a “duel.” The Grandmaster is Hong Kong’s submission for the 2014 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.
Ang Lee, Best Director Academy Award winner for Brokeback Mountain and Life of Pi and Zhang Ziyi’s director in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, was this year’s jury Chair. No less than 265 films with at least partial Chinese-language dialogue were submitted.
Via Fox International’s Star Chinese Movies channel, the Golden Horse Awards ceremony was broadcast live for the first time in the U.S. and six other English-speaking territories.
Golden Horse Awards (partial list)
Drug War (China / Hong Kong)
The Grandmaster (Hong Kong / China)
* Ilo Ilo (Singapore)
Stray Dogs (Taiwan)
A Touch of Sin (China / Japan)
Chung Mong-hong, Soul
Jia Zhangke, Touch of Sin
Johnnie To, Drug War
* Tsai Ming-liang, Stray Dogs
Wong Kar-Wai, The Grandmaster
Best Debut Director
* Anthony Chen, Ilo Ilo
Hsu Chao-jen, Together
Longman Leung and Sunny Luk, Cold War
Juno Mak, Rigor Mortis
Zhao Wei, So Young
Nick Cheung, Unbeatable
* Lee Kang-sheng, Stray Dogs
Tony Leung Chiu-wai, The Grandmaster
Tony Leung Ka-fai, Cold War
Jimmy Wang, Soul
Sammi Cheng, Blind Detective
Gwei Lun-mei, Christmas Rose
Cherry Ngan, The Way We Dance
Shu Qi, Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons
* Zhang Ziyi, The Grandmaster
Best Supporting Actor
Chen Tian Wen, Ilo Ilo
Huang Bo, Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons
* LI Xuejian, Back to 1942
Eddie Peng, Unbeatable
Tong Dawei, American Dreams in China
Best Supporting Actress
Crystal Lee, Unbeatable
Lin Mei-hsiu, To My Dear Granny
Susan Shaw, Tales from the Dark Part 1
Xue Hong, Longing for the Rain
* Yeo Yann Yann, Ilo Ilo
Best New Performer
Dong Zijian, Young Style
Huang Shao-yang, Together
Koh Jia Ler, Ilo Ilo
* Kuo Shu-yau, Step Back to Glory
Yang Liang-yu, A Time in Quchi
Best Original Screenplay
* Anthony Chen, Ilo Ilo
Robert Chou, Zhang Ji, and Aubrey Lam, American Dreams in China
Arthur Chu, To My Dear Granny
Jia Zhangke, A Touch of Sin
Wai Ka-fai, Yau Nai-hoi, Ryker Chan, and Yu Xi, Drug War
Best Adapted Screenplay
Stephen Chow and Derek Kwok, Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons
* Li Qiang, So Young
Liu Zhenyun, Back to 1942
Nagao Nakashima, Soul
Lu Yue, Back to 1942
Yu Like Wai, A Touch of Sin
* Philippe Le Sourd, The Grandmaster
Liao Pen Jung, Shong Won Chong, and Lu Qing Xin, Stray Dogs
Bridge Over Troubled Water
* Beyond Beauty: Taiwan From Above
Audience Choice Award
The Grand Master
Outstanding Taiwanese Filmmaker of the Year
* Yeh Ju-Feng
Lifetime Achievement Award
Partial list of Golden Horse Award winners and nominees + Anthony Chen and Zhang Ziyi 2013 Golden Horse Awards quotes via The Hollywood Reporter.
Zhang Ziyi The Grandmaster image: Bona Film Group.
Angeli Bayani and Koh Jia Ler Ilo Ilo image: Memento Films International.
‘The Congress’ & ‘Jasmine’ + ‘Pinocchio’: European Film Awards’ Best Animated Feature Film nominations
The European Film Academy has announced the three nominees in the 2013 European Film Awards’ Best Animated Feature Film category. They are the following:
- The Congress (Israel / Germany / Poland / Luxembourg / France / Belgium), written and directed by Ari Folman, from a novel by Stanislaw Lem. Animation by Yoni Goodman.
- Jasmine (France), directed by Alain Ughetto, from a screenplay by Ughetto – who also provided the animation – and Jacques Reboud, with the collaboration of Chloé Inguenaud.
- Pinocchio (Italy / Luxembourg / France / Belgium), directed by Enzo D’Alò, from a screenplay by D’Alò and Umberto Marino. Animation by Marco Zanoni.
Best European Animated Feature Film nominees: ‘The Congress,’ ‘Jasmine,’ ‘Pinocchio’
Featuring Robin Wright (as herself), Harvey Keitel, Jon Hamm, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Paul Giamatti, Danny Huston, Michael Stahl-David, and Michael Landers, The Congress shows how actress Robin Wright, in dire need of work and some ready cash, sells her image and “emotions” to Hollywood studio Miramount, which will then “cast” her in myriad movies. The first half of The Congress is a regular live-action movie; the film switches to digital animation in the second half. The Congress director Ari Folman is best known for the widely acclaimed Waltz with Bashir.
In Jasmine, Alain Ughetto reminisces about his love affair with an Iranian woman named Jasmine during the height of the Iranian Revolution of the late ’70s.
Pinocchio is the latest retelling of Carlo Collodi’s classic story, most famously brought to the screen via the Walt Disney studios in 1940. Live-action versions of Pinocchio include Roberto Benigni’s in 2002 and Luigi Comencini’s 1972 television miniseries The Adventures of Pinocchio, starring Andrea Balestri as Pinocchio, Nino Manfredi as Geppetto, and Gina Lollobrigida as the Blue Fairy. An animated 2014 Pinocchio, to be co-directed by Guillermo del Toro, is in the works.
The European Film Academy’s Animated Feature Film committee
The three Best Animated Feature Film nominees were selected by a committee consisting of European Film Academy Board members Bruno Chatelin, producer (France), and Marek Rozenbaum, producer (Israel), in addition to producer Manuel Cristóbal (Spain), and journalists Daniel Couvreur (Belgium) and Lisa Nesselson (France). Cristóbal, Couvreur, and Nesselson are representatives of CARTOON, the European Association of Animation Film.
All 2,900 European Film Academy members are eligible to vote for the winner in the Best Animated Feature Film category. The 26th European Film Awards ceremony will be held in Berlin on Saturday, Dec. 7.
Robin Wright The Congress image: Drafthouse Films.
Best Live Action Short Film Oscar semifinalists
Last week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that 10 live action short films remained in the running for the 2014 Academy Awards. Among the semi-finalists, topics and characters include African child soldiers (That Wasn’t Me), a troubled Italian boy who refuses to take off a wrestler’s mask (Tiger Boy), romance and time travel (Sundance entry Record/Play, slated to become a feature), an abused Inuit wife (Throat Song), and a (possible) lunatic who believes he’s god (The Voorman Problem). One hundred and twenty shorts had originally qualified for the Best Live Action Short Film category.
The 10 short films still in contention for the 2014 Oscar in the Best Live Action Short Film category are listed below in alphabetical order by title, with their production companies:
- Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me), Esteban Crespo, director (Producciones Africanauan)
- Avant que de tout perdre (Just Before Losing Everything), Xavier Legrand, director, and Alexandre Gavras, producer (KG Productions)
- Dva (Two), Mickey Nedimovic, director, and Henner Besuch, director of photography (Filoufilm Dani Barsch)
- Helium, Anders Walter, director, and Kim Magnusson, producer (M & M Productions)
- Kush, Shubhashish Bhutiani, director (Red Carpet Moving Pictures)
- Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?), Selma Vilhunen, director, and Kirsikka Saari, screenwriter (Tuffi Films)
- Record/Play, Jesse Atlas, director, and Thom Fennessey, executive producer (Collaboration Factory)
- Throat Song, Miranda de Pencier, director (Northwood Productions)
- Tiger Boy, Gabriele Mainetti, director (Goon Films)
- The Voorman Problem, Mark Gill, director, and Baldwin Li, producer (Honlodge Productions)
Martin Freeman movie & Costa-Gavras’ son Alexandre Gavras in contention
Last year, about half of the semi-finalists had some form of previous Oscar association and/or featured well-known film celebrities (or their children), whether in front or behind the camera. This year, most of the semi-finalists have no previous Oscar connections (that I could find) and feature little-known names. But there are a few exceptions:
- Mark Gill’s 2013 BAFTA nominee The Voorman Problem, which stars Martin Freeman (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug) and Tom Hollander (Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End). (Correction – see comment below: The Voorman Problem‘s Mark Gill is not the film producer/executive producer of features such as the Gerard Butler thriller Olympus Has Fallen, the Zac Efron thriller The Paperboy, and the Frida Kahlo biopic Frida starring Salma Hayek. Instead, this Mark Gill is the director/co-writer of the 2013 short family drama Full Time, featuring Kieran Hill, Chris Langham, and Huw Higginson.)
- Just Before Losing Everything was directed by actor Xavier Legrand, whose sporadic film credits go all the way back to Louis Malle’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee Au Revoir les Enfants (1987). The producer of Legrand’s short film is Alexandre Gavras, son of Oscar-nominated filmmaker Costa-Gavras, whose Z (1969) was one of the rare non-English-language movies to have been shortlisted for a Best Picture Academy Award. (Costa-Gavras’ political thriller eventually won in the Best Foreign Language Film category.)
- Helium producer Kim Magnusson has been shortlisted for four Academy Awards; he won for the 1998 short Election Night.
Best Live Action Short Film: Academy Award voting process
According to the Academy’s press release, “the Short Films and Feature Animation Branch Reviewing Committee viewed all the eligible entries for the preliminary round of voting at screenings held in Los Angeles.”
Next, members of the Short Films and Feature Animation Branch will choose three to five nominees from among the 10 titles on the list of Best Live Action Short Film semi-finalists. Branch screenings will be held in Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco in December.
The 2014 Academy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, January 16, 2014, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. The 2014 Oscar ceremony will be held on Sunday, March 2, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center.
Tom Hollander and Martin Freeman The Voorman Problem photo: Honlodge Productions.