Veteran Taiwan filmmaker Hou Hsiao-Hsien speaks during the 4th annual Chinese Young Generation Film Forum in Beijing on November 2, 2009.
The annual Taiwan Golden Horse Film Festival and Awards, kicking off November 5 this year, is known as the Chinese-language Oscars. But they have seen almost no best-director winners from Taiwan since 1996.
The awkward fact about Taiwan filmmakers is that for at least a decade, they have been eclipsed by their counterparts from Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland at their own film festival.
Award recognitions aside, box-office performance of Taiwan films has generally been upset. "Since Hollywood films entered Taiwan a decade ago, what they've done has been to oppress local films," Taiwan director Chu Yin-Ping said recently.
Facing a depressing filmmaking climate in Taiwan, some directors came to the mainland, like Chu; some chose to wait back in Taiwan for a breakthrough. "They are doing other jobs in this business - acting, making music videos or television dramas. I think they have paid their dues," Chu said.
Last year, Wei Te-Sheng, who had been a screenwriter and assistant director for many years before making his feature length directorial debut, "Cape No. 7", brought hope to Taiwan's filmmakers. The romantic musical-drama was so popular that it took less than three months to become the second top-grossing film in Taiwan's cinematic history, only after "Titanic".
Following Wei, actor-turned-director Leon Dai is making headlines this year with his second feature length film, "No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti" ("I Cannot Live without You"). The tear-jerker premiered in July, and has won acclaim from both the public and the critics. The film is a strong competitor at this year's Golden Horse Awards, having won eight nominations including best film and best director.