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GOLDEN HORSE AWARDS: Midi Z receives outstanding filmmaker award

2016/11/26 22:59:34

Taipei, Nov. 26 (CNA) Myanmar-born Taiwanese director Midi Z (趙德胤) received the award for Outstanding Taiwanese Filmmaker of the Year on Saturday at the Golden Horse Awards, considered the Oscars of the Chinese-speaking world.

The 33-year-old director was given the award for "expanding the scope and definition of Taiwanese cinema," according to the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival Executive Committee.

In his acceptance speech, Z said his life "turned around" after he came to Taiwan from Myanmar at the age of 16. In Taiwan, he met mentors who helped him on his path toward filmmaking, Z said.

"Midi Z would not be standing on this stage if not for the pluralism and freedom of Taiwan, where all kinds of people can pursue their dreams, or where miracles can happen," Z said.

He thanked his cast and crew in "The Road to Mandalay" (再見瓦城), Taiwan's film community and his family, especially his mother, who he said never went to school but was determined to send him to Taiwan to study.

"If a child from Myanmar, who never dared to dream about anything other than his survival, can receive the Outstanding Taiwanese Filmmaker of the Year today and can stand here, then Taiwan is the only place in the world where this inspirational story can happen," he said.

Z's fourth feature film, "The Road to Mandalay," received six nominations at this year's Golden Horse Awards, including best feature film, best director and best lead actor and actress.

Filmed in Thailand and Myanmar, "The Road to Mandalay" centers on the lives and love of two illegal Burmese migrants, who struggle to survive in Thailand after fleeing the civil war in their country.

In the film, as in several of his other films, Z explores the economic and social problems in his native country and their effect on its people.

The film won the Fedeora Award for Best Film at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival in September.

It was screened in Myanmar on Nov. 7, the first time that a film by Z was allowed to be screened there.

(The Road to Mandalay trailer from TGHFF YouTube channel)

(Scene from "The Road to Mandalay." Photo courtesy of Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival Executive Committee)

(Scene from "The Road to Mandalay." Photo courtesy of Flash Forward Entertainment)

Z, who was born in 1982 in Myanmar, moved to Taiwan to attend high school when he was 16 after winning a scholarship. He later went on to earn a master's degree in design at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology.

His graduation project, a film called "Paloma Blanca" (白鴿) about Taiwan's pigeon racing culture, was screened at numerous film festivals and launched his career as a filmmaker.

In 2009, Z was chosen as a member of the first Golden Horse Film Academy, which was headed by prominent Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien (侯孝賢).

Z later released a short film produced by Hou called "Huasin Incident" (華新街記事), about the reckless lives of a group of young Burmese in Taiwan.

In 2011, Z's first feature film, "Return to Burma" (歸來的人), about a construction worker who returns to Myanmar from Taiwan and witnesses the economic struggles in his home country, was shown at around 50 film festivals around the world.

His acclaimed 2014 film "Ice Poison" (冰毒), which centers on a poor Burmese farmer lured into selling crystal meth, was selected as the Taiwanese entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards. The film won Best International Feature Film at the 2014 Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Z renounced his Myanmar citizenship in 2011 and became a Taiwanese citizen, 13 years after he arrived in the country with US$200 his family had scraped together for him. He had never seen a movie until he came to Taiwan, Z once said in an interview.

(By Christie Chen)

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