Taiwan cheers Ang Lee's Life of Pi Oscar success

Director hails his home island as he wins his second Oscar for tale of shipwreck and survival

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 February, 2013, 9:35am

Taiwan celebrated on Monday after director Ang Lee stunned the island and Hollywood by winning his second Oscar, for the screen adaptation of Life of Pi.

As Lee thanked his team and his wife, Jane Lin, when accepting the award on stage, Taiwan's people rejoiced at his victory over strong contenders, including Steven Spielberg (Lincoln) and Michael Haneke (Amour). In 2005, Lee won the best director award for Brokeback Mountain, the gay cowboy love tragedy.

Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou cabled a congratulatory message to Lee, while Taiwan Culture Minister Lung Ying-tai also sent him a telegram, saying: "We feel very proud of you."

Taiwan Culture Minister Lung Ying-tai also sent him a telegram, saying 'We feel very proud of you'

Jason Hu, the mayor of Taichung, said he would confer honorary citizenship on Lee for his achievement. During last night's ceremony, Lee expressed his gratitude to the city's government for raising NT$50 million (HK$13 million) to help build the site where most of Life of Pi was filmed.

"I [could] not make this movie without the help of Taiwan. We shot there. I want to thank everybody there who helped us, especially the city of Taichung."

Lee's mother, Lee Yang Shih-chuang, said she was proud of her son, as she watched the live broadcast from Hollywood at her home in Tainan.

Based on Yann Martel's 2001 fantasy adventure of the same name, Life of Pi tells the story of an Indian boy who survives a shipwreck with a Bengal tiger.

Veteran film critic and director Freddie Wong Kwok-siu said Lee's achievements would not be matched by any Chinese filmmakers in the near future.

"Lee succeeded with stories of different cultural backgrounds ... His films attained high levels of artistic and production standards while appealing to both Western and Asian audiences with great box office results. This is rare," he said.

Wong said talented mainland filmmakers focused on small films popular at festivals, while mainstream Hong Kong and mainland directors were blinded by the huge big-movie market.

Additional reporting by Laura Zhou