Zhang Yimou finally bags Golden Horse director award

Acclaimed Chinese director Zhang Yimou finally took home the Golden Horse Award for Best Director - the first in his decades-long career - for his almost entirely black-and-white period piece Shadow, rendered in the style of a Chinese ink painting.

He picked up the award at the ceremony held in Taipei yesterday. The Golden Horse Awards are often dubbed the Oscars of Chinese-language film and, while Zhang is renowned, this was, remarkably, his first nomination for Best Director.

Speaking to reporters backstage, he said he did not prepare any speech as other directors who were nominated were "all very outstanding". "Although this was my first nomination, I thought maybe I would have other chances in future," he quipped.

Shadow, which was up for 12 awards, took home three other technical prizes.

Best Feature Film was won by An Elephant Sitting Still, which also won Best Adapted Screenplay. The movie's director, Hu Bo, who wrote the novel the film is based on, tragically committed suicide at the age of 29 last year.

Hsieh Ying-xuan of Taiwan walked home with the Best Leading Actress honour for her portrayal of a widow fighting for her late husband's inheritance with his male lover in Dear EX. She edged out popular Chinese actresses Sun Li and Zhou Xun, among others.

Chinese actor Xu Zheng won Best Leading Actor for Dying To Survive, where he plays a man who becomes an exclusive agent of a pirated drug.

The 55th edition of the annual awards was one of the more star-studded ones in recent years.

Led by Oscar-winning Taiwanese-American director Lee Ang, who is chairman of the award's executive committee, this year saw the return of superstar Gong Li, who famously had an ugly feud with the awards in 2014 after she failed to win the Best Actress honour.

Gong chaired this year's jury, seemingly burying the hatchet with the awards show.

This year also saw guests like Hong Kong actor Andy Lau walk the red carpet, as well as A-list celebrities Carina Lau and Eason Chan.

Taiwanese and Hong Kong talent took home the other crop of acting awards. Ding Ning, dressed in a slinky gold number, won Best Supporting Actress for Cities Of Last Things, while veteran Hong Kong stage actor Ben Yuen took home the honour for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Tracey.

Best New Performer went to Long Time No Sea's Si Pangoyod, a child star and a member of the indigenous Tao people of Taiwan.

Singapore director James Leong's documentary Umbrella Diaries: The First Umbrella - on the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong in 2014 - lost out to Our Youth In Taiwan.

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.