TAIPEI – Both the thoroughbreds and dark horses galloped to victory at this year’s Golden Horse Awards.

Unlike last year when only one movie – The Bold, the Corrupt, And The Beautiful – struck the jackpot in taking half of the six leading prizes, with other rivals winning at most one, this year’s race was an open one.

At the event last Saturday, a different movie triumphed in the categories for Best Movie, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress.

While iconic director Zhang Yimou finally came home first in the Best Director dash for his acclaimed wuxia flick Shadow, other contenders managed to come out of his big shadow – Shadow had 12 nominations – to reward their own punters.

The prestigious Best Feature Film prize went to An Elephant Sitting Still, about four people who seek solace from their problems and hunt for a mythical elephant.

Director Hu Bo, who was reportedly in a tug of war with the movie’s producers over creative control, committed suicide at age 29 in Beijing last year.

On Saturday, his mother accepted the award on his behalf.

The Taipei audience hollered when Taiwanese actress Hsieh Ying-xuan lived up to her favourite tag by bagging Best Actress for her riveting performance in Dear Ex, reported Taiwan News.

“I will keep learning hard,” said Hsieh who shed tears over her breakthrough in fending off four other contenders, including seasoned campaigners Sun Li (Shadow) and Zhou Xun (Last Letter).

Singaporean fans could get a chance to see Hsieh in person since Dear Ex is set to screen at the Singapore International Film Festival on Dec 2.

Tickets are sold out, with the festival’s website indicating that the cast will be in attendance, though no names are mentioned.

On Saturday, for those taking a bet on which young blood could become a thoroughbred in future, the odds favour Taiwan’s Si Pangoyod who clinched Best New Performer for his compelling role in Long Time No Sea.

Earlier this year, the 14-year-old had shown his pedigree, being named Best Young Actor at the Minsk International Film Festival in Belarus for the same role.

But amid the celebrations, the event – dubbed the Chinese cinema’s Oscars – was saddled with politics too.

Yue Fu, in accepting Best Documentary for Our Youth In Taiwan, said: “I hope one day our country will be recognised and treated as a truly independent entity.

“This is my biggest wish as a Taiwanese.”

The BBC reported that awards presenters on Saturday used the word “China” several times to refer to Chinese-language films and one presenter described Taiwan as “China, Taiwan”.

Gong Li, who chaired the jury this year, declined to be on stage with Taiwanese director Lee Ang to present the Best Feature Film award, reportedly because of earlier comments during the night about Taiwan’s sovereignty.

Beijing was also said to have asked all the mainland Chinese attendees to boycott an after-ceremony party.

Meanwhile, Singaporeans who are visiting Taipei this week can also tap the buzz of the Awards, with a related film festival that started on Nov 8 and will end this Sunday.

The lineup includes some of the nominees for the Awards as well as Bollywood extravaganza Padmaavat, whose stars Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh got married in Italy last week.

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