It's better to let Golden Horses be Golden Horses
The China Post
November 27, 2012, 12:49 am TWN
By Alan Fong--Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai probably started drafting her robust speech of support of the 49th Golden Horse Awards halfway through the awards ceremony itself, when almost all the awards for the take were captured by mainland and Hong Kong filmmakers.
The media and opposition politicians were quick to address the lackluster performance of Taiwanese films in the awards, with some media outlets billing it “Taiwan's worst ever.” Opposition Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Kuan Bi-ling called for the termination of the awards, in which Chinese productions are overshadowing local films, to spur Taiwan's film industry. Fellow DPP lawmaker Lin Chia-lung decried the “Sinification” of the awards and expressed his fear of Taiwanese movies becoming a subset of Chinese films.
In response, Lung lauded the awards as a universal pursuit of filmmaking excellence beyond regional and national affiliations. She called for the Taiwanese people to be proud of the fact that Taiwan is hosting the storied film awards for the Chinese-speaking world. She supported the judging panel's professional and impartial decisions, which, she stressed, “patriotism” should not influence.
The strongest support for the awards, however, came from local filmmakers. Hou Hsiao-Hsien (侯孝賢), who has twice won a Golden Horse award for best director, yesterday described calls for the awards' suspension as politically motivated. He said there is no reason to give up the much praised awards, which are the most representative in the Chinese-speaking world. He opinion was shared by film producer Lee Lieh (李烈).
While there are local filmmakers who do not seem to agree with the judging panel's picks, none have yet publicly backed the opposition lawmakers' call for the end of the Golden Horses.
Taiwan's movie industry is caught in a tricky position: It is in the middle of a transition, with filmmakers switching from low-budget art-house productions to more mainstream and commercially minded productions, but without the money or maturity needed to produce major blockbusters. As Lung and Hou pointed out, it will take more time and investment for Taiwanese movies to flourish.
In the meantime, the awards remain a helpful platform for filmmakers in the Chinese-speaking world. They help introduce our movies to both local and global audiences.
This year's event is indeed a wake-up call for the local movie industry that more momentum is needed to help the transition. The lack of local winners, however, is not a reason for the Golden Horse's demise. It's better to keep politics out of filmmaking and let the Golden Horses be the Golden Horses.