The 19th Taipei Film Festival (June 29th-July 15th) announced the 40 nominees for its annual Taipei Film Awards.

The 40 titles – all directed by local directors – fall into four categories: Narrative Feature, Documentary, Short Film and Animation.

The Narrative Feature section includes three world premieres: Wang Ming-tai’s mother-daughter drama Cloudy (順雲), Huang Hsin-yao’s The Great Buddha+ (大佛) and Huang Xi’s Missing Johnny (強尼.凱克). The latter two are also competing in the festival’s International New Talent Competition.

The section also includes mystery thriller Who Killed Cock Robin (目擊者), Midi Z’s The Road to Mandalay (再見瓦城) and Chen You Hsun’s The Village of No Return (健忘村).

Directors Wei Te-sheng and Giddens Ko told local media that their new films 52 Hz I Love You (52 Hz 我愛你) and Mon Mon Mon Monsters (報告老師 怪怪怪怪物) were left out of the competition because they were not submitted to the festival.

Wei said that he had never intended the musical to be entered into any film competition and that he will also not be submitting the film for the Golden Horse Awards.

Meanwhile, Ko said that he did not submit Monsters to the Taipei festival because he had committed to take the film on a nationwide university tour as part of its marketing plan and that he had already agreed to screen the film at the National Chengchi University Chinese Film Festival, organized by the Golden Horse Festival’s Wen Tien-hsiang.

Another film that withdrew from the competition, but in a much more controversial manner, is Nai Kuo-an’s 上岸的魚. The film was initially submitted to the festival and passed the first round. However, after receiving comments from private screenings at the Hong Kong FilMart, Nai wanted to withdraw the film and take time to make additional changes.

When producer Gene Yao tried to withdraw the film, the festival told Yao that any film that withdraws from the competition after passing the first round will not be reconsidered the following year. After a brief public spat between the festival and Yao over ambiguity in the festival’s rules, co-producer (and former festival chairwoman) Li Lieh stepped in and resolved the conflict. The film has been withdrawn, and the festival promises to hold internal discussions over the ambiguity in its submission rules.

The Documentary section – which took the grand prize for five consecutive years between 2010 and 2014 – includes the world premiere of Chen Hwai-en’s Manfei (曼菲), as well as Berlinale winner Small Talk (日常對話) and Taiwan International Documentary Festival winner Wansei PainterTetsuomi Tateishi (灣生畫家-立石鐵臣).

The animation section also includes two world premieres: Yang Yung-shen’s Stories About Him (關於他的故事) and Wu De-chuen’s Back (回神).

The clear standout of the short film section is True Emotion Behind the Wall (鹹水雞的滋味), the new 38-minute short film by Thanatos, Drunk (醉生夢死) director Chang Tso-chi. Currently over two years into his 46-month prison sentence for rape, Chang shot the film for the Agency of Corrections over the course of two weeks inside Taipei Prison with his fellow prisoners serving as actors.

In addition to a prize for each category, all 40 titles are eligible for the festival’s NT$1 million (US$33,200) Grand Prize. All the nominees will be screened during the festival.

To be eligible for the awards, the films must be completed or received public screenings after March 18th, 2016 and submitted by March 23rd, 2017. The filmmaker must have residency in Taiwan or hold ROC citizenship.

19th Taipei Film Festival – Taipei Film Award nominees (partial)

Best Narrative Feature

Forêt Debussy (德布西森林)
The Great Buddha+
The Last Painting (自畫像)
Missing Johnny
The River That All Flow By (川流之島)
The Road to Mandalay
The Village of No Return
White Ant (白蟻慾望謎網)
Who Killed Cock Robin

Best Documentary

Black Bear Forest (黑熊森林)
Condemned Practice Mode (徐自強的練習題)
Looking For? (你找什麼?)
MATA – The Island’s Gaze (MATA-影像之初)
Ripples Apart (逐風少年)
Small Talk
The Mother and Her Son (媽媽和宗憲)
Unfinished Progress (建設未完成)
Wansei PainterTetsuomi Tateishi