5 fast facts about Golden Horse award-winner Chen Shiang-chyi

Taiwan actress Chen Shiang Chyi holds up a trophy after winning the Best Leading Actress during the Golden Horse Film Awards in Taipei, on November 22, 2014. Chinese-language cinema A-listers and stars from Japan and Hollywood gathered in Taiwan for this years Golden Horse Film Awards, with movies from mainland China dominating the nominations. AFP PHOTO / SAM YEH

Five things you didn't know about Chen Shiang-chyi, the Exit actress who beat Gong Li to a Golden Horse Award.

Gong Li was conspicuously absent from the official post-show party after her shock loss at the Golden Horse Awards in Taipei two weeks ago. A jeweller had to cancel a celebration it had arranged in expectation of her Best Actress win for Coming Home, said Apple Daily. Gong Li lost the prize to Chen Shiang-chyi for Exit by only one vote, after three rounds of intense debate by the jury led by Joan Chen, said the report.

Who's the actress who spoiled Gong Li’s party?

> She's a regular in arty films you probably haven’t seen

Taiwanese actress Chen, 44, has been in almost all of auteur Tsai Ming-liang’s movies starting with 2001’s What Time Is It Over There?, an absurdist drama where a lovesick watch vendor (Lee Kang-sheng) resets every clock he sees in Taipei to Paris time, after selling a watch to a woman (Chen) who is on her way to France. Chen was nominated for a Golden Horse Award for Best Actress for another of Tsai’s films, 2003’s Good Bye, Dragon Inn.

> Her stylist for her Golden Horse appearance was Tsai Chin

A serious artist and an assistant professor of theatre at the Taipei National University of the Arts, Chen has neither an agent nor a stylist. She seldom socialises and doesn't have a mobile phone. Singer Tsai, the former wife of Chen’s late mentor, director Edward Yang, calls the actress a “little refugee”. For Chen’s big night two weeks ago, Tsai had to step in and take care of her dress, make-up and hair. She also booked the car that took Chen to the ceremony.

> She was spotted by Edward Yang when he walked by her acting class

The story has it that Yang glimpsed a class at the Taipei National University of the Arts and saw a girl with big eyes he knew had to star in his next film. She was practising lines from Hamlet and fighting with newspapers rolled up into a sword. The film he made with her was the 1994 comedy A Confucian Confusion. She also appeared in his 1991 masterpiece A Brighter Summer Day in a small role as a doctor’s fiancée.

> Before her Golden Horse-winning performance in Exit, she had disappeared from the movies for a few years

After her parents died in 2011, Chen said she became a “zombie” for two years, keeping her distance from her students and turning down films. Her last role was Tsai’s 2009 movie Face.

Exit, director Chien Hsiang’s drama about a middle-aged woman who feels trapped in a lonely life and finds an escape in tango, is one of the first films Chen made after her hiatus.

> She has been hailed as a Taiwanese heroine for keeping the Best Actress prize in Taiwan this year

On a night of Chinese dominance at the Golden Horse Awards, she was the only Taiwanese winner in the top categories. The instant her win was announced was the most-watched moment of the broadcast in Taiwan. – The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network

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