Taipei, Feb. 25 (CNA) Taichung Mayor Jason Hu said Monday that he will confer an honorary "citizen of Taichung" to Taiwanese director Ang Lee, the winner of the 2013 Academy Award for best director for his 3-D shipwreck epic "Life of Pi."
Hu said he was grateful for Lee, who mentioned Taichung in his acceptance speech for its help in getting the film shot.
While receiving the best director award, the Taiwan-born, U.S.-based Lee thanked his 3,000-member cast and crew for their work on the film.
"I cannot make this movie without the help of Taiwan. We shot there," he said, especially thanking Taichung, which is where most of the shooting took place.
From the local to central governments, Taiwan needs to show recognition to Lee, who has proved that Taiwan can make its way in the international film industry, Hu said during a hospital checkup following a heart surgery he underwent earlier this month.
"It's as if our city had won the award," said Shih Chin-wen, director of Information Bureau of the city government.
The city government provided sponsorship of more than NT$50 million (US$1.68 million) to Lee, who built a studio complete with a wave pool to shoot the ocean scenes around which the action revolves.
The city plans to establish a film park in the future that will feature the wave pool, which was donated by the 58-year-old director when shooting was completed.
Officials from National Tainan First Senior High School, Lee's high school, said they were proud of Lee for winning the award.
Meanwhile, in China, netizens hailed Lee in around 3,000 messages posted on Sina.com, China's largest infotainment web portal, within just 30 minutes of the announcement of his win.
Many people praised him as the pride of all Asian directors and said he is the only outstanding filmmaker to successfully integrate Eastern and Western culture.
"Ang Lee, a silent and great artist! You are the Pi," Sisy Chen, a Taiwanese politician and television commentator said in a post that was forwarded and went viral on the Chinese microblogging website.
According to Chinese reports, "Life of Pi" grossed 38 million yuan (US$6.1 million) in China on its opening weekend. It also outperformed Chinese historical blockbusters "Back to 1942" and "The Last Supper" in terms of box-office receipts.
The film had garnered US$583.37 million at the box office worldwide as of Feb. 24, making it the best-selling film among the nine nominees for best picture, according to the website Box Office Mojo.
"Life of Pi," 80 percent of which was shot in Taiwan, was adapted from Canadian novelist Yann Martel's 2002 Man Booker Prize-winning novel of the same title.
It is Lee's second Oscar for best director; he won his first in 2006 for the cowboy love story "Brokeback Mountain."
(By Sophia Chen, Chang Jung-hsiang and Maia Huang)