China’s Golden Rooster Awards Moves To Annual Berth As It Competes With Taiwan’s ‘Chinese Oscars’ Golden Horse Awards

This weekend sees a showdown between two of the Chinese-speaking film world’s major awards events, with both the Golden Rooster Awards, held on the China mainland, and Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards taking place on Saturday (November 23).

Ahead of the ceremonies, it was announced this week that the state-approved Golden Roosters will be held annually from this year, moving from the biannual schedule it has operated since 2005.

The move will be viewed as part of an effort to establish the Roosters as the primary awards ceremony of the Chinese-speaking movie world, ahead of the Golden Horses, which have routinely been referred to as the ‘Chinese Oscars’.

Earlier this year, China’s authorities put the blockers on Chinese actors, directors and producers submitting to this year’s Golden Horses, significantly restricting the ceremony’s nominations pool.

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The decision was made after the political fallout from last year’s Golden Horses, when Taiwanese filmmaker Fu Yue said onstage during an acceptance speech that she hoped Taiwan could be regarded as “independent.” China classifies Taiwan as a renegade province rather than a separate country.

At the 2018 Golden Horses ceremony, Chinese feature An Elephant Sitting Still picked up the best feature film prize, with Chinese director Zhang Yimou taking best director for his China-Hong Kong film Shadow. This year’s nominees are comprised largely of Taiwanese and Southeast Asian films, with a handful from Hong Kong and elsewhere.

Also this year, leading Hong Kong filmmaker Johnnie To pulled out from his position as president of the Golden Horses awards jury, citing work commitments.

While the restrictions represent a significant challenge for the Golden Horses going forward, the Taiwan-based ceremony is well established and prestigious, having run for 55 editions prior to this year.

The news of the Roosters moving to an annual berth came at the opening night of the Golden Rooster and Hundred Flowers Film Festival this week, with Huang Kunming, head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee, making the announcement on stage.

According to local media, he stated that Chinese cinema was experiencing a “golden age” and that filmmakers should focus on “socialist core values” in their work.

The 2019 edition of the festival is being held in Xiamen, in southeast China’s Fujian Province. Star attendees at the opening ceremony on Tuesday (November 19) included Jackie Chan, director Zhang Yimou, and actress Zhou Xun, according to local media.

Earlier this week, the festival saw Lou Ye’s Saturday Fiction, the historical drama starring Gong Li that world premiered at Venice this year, pulled from the event just a day before it was scheduled to play as the opening film, according to news service mtime, which cited “internal problems of the producers”. It was replaced by documentary Shakuhachi: One Sound One Life.

The Golden Rooster Awards nominations this year are led by Muye Wen’s comedy-drama Dying To Survive, which was a box office smash in China in 2018, grossing $451m, and received eight nods including best narrative featured and best directorial debut. So Long My Son, The Wandering Earth, Us And Them, and Legend Of The Demon Cat each scored five nominations.

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