Malaysian filmmaker Lau Kok Rui wins two awards at Taiwan's Golden Horse Award


Malaysian director Lau Kok-rui holds his awards for the Best New Director and the Best Original Screenplay at the 59th Golden Horse Awards in Taipei, Taiwan, Saturday, Nov 19, 2022. Photo: AP

Taiwanese actress Sylvia Chang edged out four other contenders, including Singapore star Hong Huifang, to take home the Golden Horse Award for Best Leading Actress on Saturday.

Chang won the prestigious award for Hong Kong drama A Light Never Goes Out, in which she plays a devastated widow who attempts to carry on her late husband’s business of making neon signs.

Dedicating the award onstage to her mother, the 69-year-old said that a long time ago, her mother had dreams of being an actress but could not, due to various factors.

“So she left this opportunity to me, and I’m very grateful to her for it. I will continue to work really hard,” Chang said.

Ajoomma, the local film Hong starred in, failed to pick up prizes in the other categories in which it was nominated: Best New Director (He Shuming), Best Original Screenplay (He with co-writer Kris Ong), and Best Supporting Actor (South Korea’s Jung Dong-hwan).

It centres on a Korean drama-obsessed Singaporean housewife who finds herself on a wild adventure after travelling solo to Seoul.

But while the film went home empty-handed, both Hong and director He said it has been a memorable experience for them.

“Although it is a bit regrettable that there is no way (for me) to bring the Golden Horse back to Singapore today, it is a great honour to be able to attend such a big event. For me, it was an unforgettable experience in my life. Next, I will continue to work hard and wait for the next opportunity,” Hong told The Straits Times after the event at the National Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Taipei.

He said: “Being here at Golden Horse this week already made me feel like a winner, to be surrounded by so many of my film-making peers here from the region and to be recognised alongside them.”

“This is a film made for our mums, and we feel the attention and love we’ve gotten from everywhere around the world,” he added.

Ajoomma, which took seven years to go from script to screen, was inspired by his mother’s own love for Korean television dramas.

Another Singaporean, Sunny Pang, was nominated for Best Action Choreography for his work on local crime thriller Geylang, but he did not win either.

Echoing He’s thoughts, the 50-year-old said he felt “honoured just to be nominated”.

Singaporean films and performers have been gaining more prominence at the Golden Horse ever since home-grown director Anthony Chen’s work Ilo Ilo bagged four major trophies at the event in 2013, including for Best Feature Film.

Chen, who is also a producer of Ajoomma, said he feels moved every time he watches the Golden Horse Awards. “A Chinese film festival that sees films regardless of national boundaries, languages, regions, cultures, featuring Koreans, Pakistanis, Japanese, Vietnamese and Thai. This is the spirit of the Golden Horse,” he said.

Films can be submitted for award consideration if half of their dialogue is in Chinese, or if more than half of the main creative crew “are of Chinese origin”.

The annual event, which marked its 59th edition this year, is often dubbed the “Oscars of Chinese-language cinema”.

On Saturday, several of the other big prizes of the night went to Malaysian filmmaker Lau Kok Rui’s The Sunny Side Of The Street, which tells the story of an unlikely bond between a Hong Kong taxi driver and a Pakistani child refugee. Lau took the awards for Best New Director and Best Original Screenplay, while veteran Hong Kong star Anthony Wong won for Best Leading Actor.

The award for Best Narrative Feature went to Taiwanese drama Coo-Coo 043, which is set in the world of pigeon racing.

Some Key Golden Horse Awards

Best Original Screenplay: Lau Kok Rui (The Sunny Side Of The Street)

Best New Director: Lau Kok Rui (The Sunny Side Of The Street)

Best Director: Laha Mebow (Gaga)

Best Leading Actress: Sylvia Chang (A Light Never Goes Out)

Best Leading Actor: Anthony Wong (The Sunny Side Of The Street)

Best Supporting Actress: Kagaw Piling (Gaga)

Best Supporting Actor: Berant Zhu (Bad Education)

Best Narrative Feature: Coo-Coo 043

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