Taiwan's Golden Horse Fest Picks Project Platform Winners

With Hong Kong gangster cinema legend Johnnie To and Taipei's mayor in attendance, cash prizes went to some of Asia's most promising young directors at a lively awards ceremony held in a Taipei street market.

After three busy days of workshops and business meetings, Taiwan’s Golden Horse Film Project Promotion (FPP) selected its 2013 winners Thursday night, awarding an array of production services and cash prizes to some of the most promising film projects from across Chinese-speaking Asia.

Hong Kong auteur Johnnie To, sporting a dapper sky blue suit, was on hand to present the event's grand prize of $33,500 (1 million Taiwanese dollars) to On Happiness Road from director Sung Hsin-Yin of Taiwan. The film is dubbed an animated fantasy-comedy about a 36-year-old woman who returns to Taiwan to discover how her childhood shaped her, contrasting contemporary observations of Taiwan against her nostalgic memories of the island's past, when it bore a very different relation to Mainland China. Taipei-born Sung is said to have spent several years in Chicago shooting shorts and documentaries before a recent return to Taiwan.

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The FFP, held in conjunction with Taiwan's Golden Horse Film Festival each year, is a Chinese-language investment platform established to bring filmmakers, investors and distributors together around inspiring projects, and to link regional industry professionals to the international film world. Past participants have exhibited a strong track record on the international festival circuit. Anthony Chen's Ilo Ilo, nominated for five Golden Horse Awards and this year's Cannes Camera d'Or winner was a past FFP project, as was Touch of the Light, Taiwan's official submission for the 2013 foreign language film Oscar.

While this year's participants hailed from across Asia -- China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Korea, and Singapore – the awards ceremony went for a charmingly local Taiwanese approach, hosting the event in the heart of Taipei's landmark Ningxia Road Night Market and serving guests cold local beer and platefuls of the city's renowned street food, cooked fresh by the surrounding hawkers. The ceremony boasted plenty of local luminaries too. Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien, past winner of the Venice Golden Lion and Cannes Special Jury Prize, took to the stage to serenade the party with traditional Taiwanese folk songs -- which was met with a sea of smartphones pointed his way -- and Taipei's Mayor Hau Lung-pin made an appearance to congratulate the winners.

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The event's second cash prize, the $13,500 CNC Award for the project with the strongest international co-production potential, went to Surviving Hai, from Taiwanese director Chuang Ching-shen. With a budget of $1.65 million, the film is an eco-crime thriller about a fishing village fighting for its livelihood against a polluting petrochemical company.

The complete winners list is below.

Grand Prize: On Happiness Road (Taiwan) Sung Hsin-YinYeh Ju-FengSylvia Feng and Tien-haw Peng

CNC Cash Award: Surviving Hai (Taiwan) Chuang Ching-ShenMa Tien-Tsung and Wang Li-Wen

3H Sound Studio Award: Happily Ever After (Hong Kong) Heiward MakHeiward Mak

LAPCC Award: Touch of Reality (Taiwan) Kao Pin-ChuanBenjamin Lin 

TMPC Award: Schizo (Taiwan) John HsuMaxx Tsai

Arrow Award: Surviving Hai (Taiwan) Chuang Ching-ShenMa Tien-Tsung and Wang Li-Wen

Moneff Award: Surviving Hai (Taiwan) Chuang Ching-ShenMa Tien-Tsung and Wang Li-Wen

The Post Bangkok Award: The Mind Reader (China) Ho Wi-Ding, Wu Sisi 

Pixelfly Digital Award: Hermaphroditism (Taiwan) Liao Shih-HanAileen Li 

Modern Cinema Laboratory Award: The Mind Reader (China) Ho Wi-Ding, Wu Sisi; Silence (Taiwan) Cheng Wen-TangCheng Wen-Tang and James Liu

Central Pictures Corporation Award: Blue Neck Ring (Taiwan) Liao Ming-YiTony Yang; On Happiness Road (Taiwan) Sung Hsin-YinYeh Ju-FengSylvia Feng and Tien-haw Peng