Independent Chinese Films Confront Social Issues

The best Chinese-language films of the year were in the spotlight at the 54th Golden Horse Awards ceremony that took place on November 25, 2017 in Taipei, Taiwan. (Image:  pixabay  /  CC0 1.0)
The best Chinese-language films of the year were in the spotlight at the 54th Golden Horse Awards ceremony that took place on November 25, 2017 in Taipei, Taiwan. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

The best Chinese-language films of the year were in the spotlight at the 54th Golden Horse Awards ceremony that took place on November 25, 2017 in Taipei, Taiwan. The Best Documentary award went to Inmates, a film that features interviews with former inmates of a modern-day labor camp who detail incidents of torture.

The Best Animation Feature Award went to Have a Nice Day, which highlights social problems in contemporary China. Angels Wear White, directed by Wen Yan, won the Best Director Award. It tells a story of child sexual assault in order to stir public reaction and response toward this social problem.

Wen Yan is an independent Chinese director, screenwriter, and film producer. Angels Wear White is her second feature film. Upon receiving her award, Wen Yan expressed her gratitude to all the investors by saying: “They saw my script and theme, and gave their support without even waiting to hear me introduce the two unknown main actresses because they know this film exposes social problems facing China today.”

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‘Angels Wear White’, directed by Wen Yan, won the Best Director Award. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

Ma Li, director of the Golden Horse 2017 Best Documentary film Inmates, expressed her gratitude to the judges for giving her the award by saying: “Like Geng Jun (another Best Director nominee), it is likely that we will be evicted among the low-end population (migrant workers in low-end service jobs in China), so this award is particularly heavy.”

Recently, the so-called “low-end population” in Beijing was evicted at the rate of 10,000 people per day, touching Ma Li’s heart.

Inmates won the Golden Horse Best Documentary Award, but as it was being aired in China, the live broadcast of the film was terminated. The 5-hour film also features the Northeast Psychiatric Hospital, as well as exploring the life and struggles of mentally ill patients in Chinese hospitals.

Inmates won the Golden Horse Best Documentary Award, but as it was being aired in China, the live broadcast of the film was terminated. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

‘Inmates’ won the Golden Horse Best Documentary Award, but as it was being aired in China, the live broadcast of the film was terminated. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

Have a Nice Day, winner of the Best Animation Feature Award, is an animated dark comedy featuring social phenomena in contemporary China, human greed, and the deterioration of social values. This is the first Chinese animated film selected to compete in the main competition section of the 67th Berlin International Film Festival (February 2017). Due to pressure from the Chinese government, it was withdrawn from the Annecy International Animation Film Festival held in Annecy, France, in June 2017.

Plastic China won the Best Film Editing Award for Taiwanese editor Qian Xiaochen. For this film, which is banned in China, the director spent five years observing the environmental catastrophe caused by the import of plastic waste into China. Qian Xiaochen said that she is proud as a Taiwanese to win this award, the equivalent to an Oscar.

The Golden Horse Film Festival encourages filmmakers to feature social issues and problems in contemporary China, and also promotes independent Chinese films through their annual award ceremony.

Translated by Chua BC and edited by Mikel Davis.

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