TAIPEI: Taiwanese director Yang Ya-che's thriller The Bold, the Corrupt, and the Beautiful dominated the Golden Horse awards, dubbed the Chinese Oscars, winning the coveted best film and two acting awards on Saturday (Nov 25).
The chilling drama about a wealthy family entangled in deadly political and business intrigues was also voted best film by audiences.
Hong Kong actor Kara Wai bagged the best actress gong for her role as the manipulative and calculating matriarch of the family.
"I want to thank my daughters (in the film) Vicky Chen and Wu Ke-xi. I couldn't have played the role so well without you," Wai said after receiving the statuette from Oscar-winning director Ang Lee and Hollywood star Jessica Chastain.
Chen, 14, wept tears of joy after she saw off two former Golden Horse winners to collect the best supporting actress award for her performance in "The Bold, the Corrupt, and the Beautiful".
"I am very fortunate," Chen told the crowd. "I want to thank the director ... and the production crew who encouraged, supported and cared about me."
The teenager also made history as the youngest-ever best actress nominee for her role in Chinese filmmaker Vivian Qu's drama Angels Wear White, which also competed in this year's Venice film festival.
In it, Chen plays a runaway who witnesses the sexual assault of two young girls and is torn between her conscience and saving her job by keeping quiet.
The film earned Qu the best directing prize at the Golden Horse ceremony on Saturday.
"This is not just a story in China. This kind of story is happening around the world," Qu said.
She thanked Chen and other young actresses in the film for "giving a voice to the children who are unable to speak up for themselves".
HEART-THROBS EMPTY HANDED
Chinese actor Tu Men beat better-known rivals, including Taiwanese-Japanese heart-throb Takeshi Kaneshiro and former Golden Horse winner Huang Bo, to claim the best actor title.
"The other nominees were nominated for their talents and strength. I got the award because of luck," said a humble Tu, who played a ruthless gambling addict who abandons his sick wife in the dark family drama Old Beast.
Taiwanese director Huang Hsin-yao took the best new director award for his popular drama The Great Buddha+, which also won best adapted screenplay, best cinematography, best original film score and best original film song.
The film, which tells the story of a security guard at a factory that makes Buddha statues, has struck a chord with Taiwanese audiences as it focuses on the struggles of ordinary people against the backdrop of a widening wealth gap.
Taiwan theatre actor Bamboo Chen defeated Hong Kong star Tony Leung Ka-fai and Taiwanese-American actor Mason Lee, son of Ang Lee, to win best supporting actor for playing a transgender bar owner in Alifu, the Prince/ss.
Nearly 50 films are nominated for the 54th edition of the Golden Horse Film Awards.
Although the Golden Horse is styled on the US Academy Awards, the winners are decided by a jury, along the lines of the Cannes film festival.
List of winners in key categories:
Best Feature Film: The Bold, the Corrupt, and the Beautiful
Best Director: Vivian Qu, Angels Wear White
Best Leading Actor: Tu Men, Old Beast
Best Leading Actress: Kara Wai, The Bold, the Corrupt, and the Beautiful
Best Supporting Actor: Bamboo Chen, Alifu, the Prince/ss
Best Supporting Actress: Vicky Chen, "The Bold, the Corrupt, and the Beautiful"
Best New Director: Huang Hsin-yao, The Great Buddha+
Best New Performer: Rima Zeidan, Missing Johnny
Outstanding Taiwanese Filmmaker of the Year: Hu Ding-yi
Audience Choice Award: The Bold, the Corrupt, and the Beautiful
FIPRESCI Prize: Old Beast