The 19th Taipei Film Festival (June 29-July 15) officially closed on Saturday night with the Taipei Film Awards ceremony at Zhongshan Hall. Opening film The Great Buddha+ (大佛普拉斯) ended up being this year’s top winner, winning a total of five prizes.
In addition to the festival’s NT$1 million Grand Prize, the Huang Hsin-yao film also won Best Narrative Feature, Outstanding Artistic Contribution (Editing), Outstanding Artistic Contribution (Music) and Outstanding Artistic Contribution (Art Design).
This is the third consecutive year for a film from the Narrative Feature category to win the Grand Prize. Huang also previously won the Grand Prize in 2011 for his documentary Taivalu (沈（ㄕㄣˇ）沒（ㄇㄟˊ）之島).
“Director Huang Hsin-yao brings his signature style to his debut feature, confidently and compassionately dealing with remote village themes that draw the focus away from the big city,” said the jury in a statement released by the festival.
Huang Xi’s Missing Johnny (強尼．凱克), the festival’s other major local premiere title this year, won four prizes: Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Huang Yuan), Best New Talent (Rima Zeidan) and Outstanding Artistic Contribution (Cinematography).
Huang Hui-chen’s Small Talk (日常對話) won the Best Documentary award. Chang Tso-chi’s True Emotion Behind the Wall (鹹水雞的滋味) – produced by Taiwan’s Agency of Corrections and shot inside Taipei Prison – won Best Short Film. Stories About Him (關於他的故事) won Best Animation.
Lu Po-shun won the Best Director prize for Wild Tides (野潮) from the Short Film category. Wu Kang-jen won Best Actor for drama White Ant (白蟻–慾望謎網). Yin Shin won Best Actress for The Island That All Flow By (川流之島). Liu Yin-shan won Best Supporting Actress for Cloudy (順雲).
The jury told local media that there was an intense discussion over deciding between The Great Buddha+ and Missing Johnny for the Grand Prize. They also revealed that an argument broke out over the Best Documentary prize as jury members were deadlocked between Condemned Practice Mode (徐自強的練習題), Black Bear Forest (黑熊森林) and Small Talk. It was the only category that required a second round of voting during the deliberations.
“The film bravely portrays the most difficult and dark side of human nature through the relationship of three generations of women, with a reconciliation between the mother and daughter that is very moving,” said the jury statement about Small Talk’s win.
Condemned Practice Mode did end up winning the Audience Choice Award, chosen from audience ballots given out at every screening. Midi Z’s The Road to Mandalay (再見瓦城) won the Press Award, and Jan Hung-tze received the Yang Shih-chi Outstanding Contribution Award.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s The Wound won the Grand Prize in the festival’s International New Talent competition. The Special Jury Prize went to Spain’s Mimosas, and The Great Buddha+ won the Audience Award. The winners were announced on July 4th.