The family drama "American Girl," by director Fiona Feng-i Roan (???), won the non-competition Golden Horse Audience Choice Award and the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival's FIPRESCI (International Federation of Film Critics) Prize in Taipei Friday night.
At the ceremony that was held a day ahead of the 58th Golden Horse Awards, the judges praised Roan for drawing on her own experience and incorporating time-honored themes in the 101-minute film about a teenage girl who grew up in Los Angeles and struggles to adjust to life in Taiwan.
The themes include the challenges of returning home, family tensions, and the burden of death, which are relatable and nostalgic, the jury said in its citation.
The movie's plot centers around 13-year-old Fen, who is uprooted from her life in the U.S. when her mother is diagnosed with breast cancer. As Fen tries to adapt to her new school in Taipei and reconnects with her long-separated father, her turbulent relationship with her mother worsens.
Speaking at the award ceremony at the Mandarin Oriental, Taipei, Roan said she was extremely happy and surprised to have won both the FIPRESCI and audience choice awards.
The award of those two prizes signify that the film had earned the approval of both critics and audiences, which is often a difficult goal to achieve, she said.
"We made this film with the audiences in mind, anticipating their journey with the characters, so this really is the biggest gift to receive in return," Roan said.
The audience choice award was voted on by 452 people who watched the five films nominated this year for best narrative feature in the Golden Horse - the Oscars of Chinese-language films.
The FIPRESCI Prize, which aims to promote film-art and young upcoming filmmakers, is awarded at international and other major film festivals. The federation is an international non-governmental organization comprising professional film critics and journalists from around the world.
Roan, who studied classical Chinese literature at National Taiwan University and holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the American Film Institute, has won previous awards for her bilingual films, which generally focus on female protagonists and family relationships.
In 2017, her autobiographical short film "Jie Jie" won the HBO Asian Pacific American Visionary Award and the audience award at the Short Shorts & Asia Film Festival (Tokyo).
"American Girl" has been nominated this year for best narrative feature, best leading actress, best new director, best new performer, best original screenplay, and best cinematography in the 58th Golden Horse Awards that will be held Saturday at National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Taipei.
Some 573 entries were submitted to the Golden Horse Awards this year, up from last year's 465, while a new category for best documentary short film was added.
The best animated feature award has been suspended because there were only two entries this year, according to the awards committee CEO Wen Tien-hsiang (???).
The annual Golden Horse Awards, established in 1962, are considered one of the most prestigious and time-honored film awards in Chinese-language cinema. However, many Chinese and Hong Kong filmmakers have been absent since 2019, when Beijing started boycotting the awards.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel