Social and environmental issues win at Chinese Oscars
by Xin Yage
The "Golden Horse , the oldest and most important film festival in the Asian world, awards Singapore's Anthony Chen’s "Ilo Ilo" best film. It analyzes the relationship between a wealthy family in the city - state and their Filipino maid. Awards also go to a Taiwanese documentary on environmental protection and the "disarming honesty" of the Chinese "Back to 1942 ", which brings the horrors of famine during the war with Japan to the big screen.

Taipei ( AsiaNews) - The Asian film industry has confirmed its high standards. Major awards at international film festivals do not detract from those conferred in the continental ones: it was indeed a surprise to see an award go to a film from a relatively small reality, Singapore,  which for the first time won the "Oscars " of Chinese cinema . It was an exceptional festival this year marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Golden Horse (金马奖) , the oldest competition of the four most important film festivals in the Chinese world .

The other three events are the Hundred Flowers Awards (百花 奖, also born in 1962 but interrupted for more than 15 years because of the Cultural Revolution and its consequences ) and the Golden Rooster (金鸡 奖) born in 1981 , both in mainland China. Since 1982 the Hong Kong Film Awards (香港 电影 金像奖) have also given out prestigious prizes. The Golden Horse jury was chaired by none other than the world renowned director Ang Lee (李安) , winner of the Oscar for best director for " Life of Pi ", while the rest of the jury saw a constellation of actors and film experts from different backgrounds.

Confirming that the financial strength and publicity of a film does not count, the top award went to "Ilo Ilo " (爸妈 不 在家) by the young and talented director Anthony Chen of Singapore (陈哲 艺), who also won the award for best emerging director and author of the best original screenplay.  His film has already won the Cannes Camera d'Or prize, Singapore 's first film to win an award in the renowned French competition . The film is a family drama involving Singapore and the Philippines (hence the title " Ilo Ilo "), which explores the relationship between a family and the new Filipino maid ( played by actress Angeli Bayani ) in the context of the Asian financial crisis of 1997.

Best Director was awarded the Taiwanese (born in Malaysia), Tsai Ming Liang (蔡明亮) , who presented " Stray dogs" (郊游) . His qualities are truly unique and he is already well known at an international level , having won the Golden Lion at Venice in 1994 ( with the movie " Vive l' Amour " ) and numerous other awards at the Berlin Film Festival and Cannes . His " Stray dogs" has also brought good luck to the protagonist, the Taiwanese Lee Kang Sheng (李康生) , who won the award for best actor , while best actress went to the super star of mainland China Zhang Ziyi (章子怡) , well known for her previous roles with Ang Lee and Zhang Yimou (张艺谋) in the movie " Crouching Tiger , Hidden Dragon" (卧虎藏龙) and " Hero" (英雄), as well as in the movie " 2046 " by Wong Kar -wai (王家卫) , who directed her in "The Grandmaster " (一代 宗师) the role that won her this latest award.

The festival also touched on important social and historical themes . The film " Beyond Beauty - Taiwan from Above , " (看见 台湾) won the award for best documentary for its stunning images shot from above and for its strong message of ecological preservation of the island , victim of a pervasive impunity in environmental issues. Chinese actor Li Xuejian (李雪健) instead won the award for best supporting actor for his role in "Back to 1942 " a film of disarming honesty about the great famine that hit China (mainly the province of ' Henan) in 1942 (一九 四 二), in which more than 3 million people died from hunger during the war with Japan.