If you are are unaware, the “GOLDEN HORSE AWARD” are the Taiwan equivalent to the “Academy Awards”, so it is a pretty big deal. It focuses on Chinese language films from Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and other countries where Chinese speaking films are made. This year’s Golden Horse Awards, were quite controversial, with speeches by filmmakers talking about the need for Taiwanese Independence and others talking about a “one and united China” – claiming Taiwan as one of its territories. 

Director Fu Yue (傅榆), who won the Golden Horse for “Best Documentary” made the speech of her hopes for an “Independent Taiwan” during her acceptance speech for documentary “OUR YOUTH IN TAIWAN”, which follows the 2014 Taiwanese Youth Sunflower Movement. Her speech was emotional and she said:

“the country can be regarded as truly independent entity one day” and that this was her “biggest hope as a Taiwanese.”

This was later followed by Chinese actor Tu Men (涂们) who stated as he was presenting an award: 

he was honored to present an award in “China, Taiwan” (“很荣幸来到中国台湾”) and that “both sides were one big family” (“我感到两岸一家亲”).

In addition to this already huge controversy, it was clear from the audience ( filled with the top filmmakers, awardees, nominations, actors, actresses, etc) were either cheering and clapping or keeping silent for either side at the Awards night, which was actually live streamed online. For example, famous Taiwanese director ANG LEE, was caught on camera clasping his hands together giving an awkward smile as Fu Yue made her speech for an “Independent Taiwan”. Lee chairs the Golden Horse committee, and I feel he is trying to keep “balanced” considering his position and of course his interests. 

There was another controversy involving famous Chinese actress GONG LI, as she refused to present an award with Lee. The issues surrounding that are unclear, but Lee mentioned later it was because she wanted to sit with the other jury members, but netizens have assumed that it was because of the speech about an “Independent Taiwan”. Hence, the hashtag “Gong Li Refuses to Confer Award” (#巩俐拒绝颁奖#) is trending on Chinese social media. The headline “Ang Lee responds to Gong Li Refusing to Confer Award” (#李安回应巩俐拒绝颁奖#) received 110 million views. 

Netizens from both sides of the strait obviously drew their lines of support. Taiwanese netizens commenting about the need for an “Independent Taiwan” whilst Chinese netizens commenting about a “one, united China”. Pictures have also emerged from the post event after party, with many empty seats ( due to the controversy). Famous Chinese director ZHANG YIMOU also didn’t attend, despite winning the most awards for his film “Shadow”

Whatever you thoughts are on this geopolitical debate, one thing is clear and that is both the Taiwanese and the Chinese are getting more politically geared and are talking about this issue. Yes, the sides are both to their own extremes, but it is interesting how the creative arts is a forum to discuss geopolitics. I am sure more to come from this controversial awards night!

Images via What’s On Weibo

To read the full article, please click on: How The Golden Horse Awards Turned Dark after Taiwan Independence Speech