With no mainstream Chinese films showing for the third year running, Taiwan’s top film festival may have lost some lustre, but directors and critics say it remains a crucial bulwark against Beijing’s censors.
Long dubbed the Chinese-language “Oscars”, the Golden Horse Film Awards will kick off in Taipei on Saturday — again without the legion of Chinese filmmakers and stars who once used to walk the red carpet.
It ran afoul of Beijing when a Taiwanese director called for the island’s independence in an acceptance speech at the 2018 ceremony, triggering an official boycott the following year.
China claims self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory to be retaken one day, by force if necessary.
There were no mainland films in the 2019 nomination list after China’s national film board ordered directors and actors to boycott the event.
Several Hong Kong films dropped out while international sponsors cut ties with the awards that year under pressure from Beijing.
While plans to boycott were not spelt out the following two years, commercial mainland cinema and some advertisers have continued to steer clear.
Hong Kong director Jun Li, whose social drama Drifting is a frontrunner at this year’s awards, said it was “obvious” that strained relations between China and Taiwan have affected the awards.
“Anyone would be lying if they tell you they don’t feel the tension,” he told AFP.
Li’s film has the most nominations at 12, including best film and best director, and it tackles Hong Kong’s notorious inequality with a story of homeless people taking authorities to court.
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