Groundbreaking Taiwanese movie director falls short in bid for Academy Award nomination

Taiwanese movie director Te-Sheng Wei.

Taiwanese movie director Te-Sheng Wei.

On Tuesday, January 24, 2012, the final Academy Award (屆奧斯卡) nominees were released out of Hollywood. Notably missing from the final five nominees for the Foreign Language Film category was Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale (賽德克‧巴萊). During the previous week, the movie’s director, Wei Te-Sheng (魏德聖), had high hopes of achieving official recognition on the movie industry’s most glamorous stage. That level of international recognition would have been a bonafide breakthrough for a Taiwanese film, although having a film that made it on the short list of 9 Academy Award nominees as the only representative in East Asia was an honor in itself.

Mr. Wei had already broken the benchmarks for the Taiwanese film industry, directing Cape No. 7 (海角七號) in 2008, a romantic comedy that became the highest-grossing Taiwanese film ever, earning over US $13,800,000 since its release. In 2009, Wei Te-Sheng began production on Seediq Bale, armed with the largest budget (US $25 million) in Taiwanese filmmaking history. The film, which screened in two parts, The Flag of Sun (太陽旗) and The Bridge of Rainbow (彩虹橋) in the Fall of 2011, did well in the Taiwanese box office, but has yet to break even financially. Despite the financial challenges of recovering its investment, the Seediq Bale team has been focused on efforts expand the value of the film. In November 2011, Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale won the 48th Golden Horse Award (金馬獎) for the Best Film category. The Golden Horse Awards are considered one of the top honors available to Chinese-language films. The release of the DVD is scheduled for March 2012, and will be instrumental in allowing the film to achieve profitability.

Because the market in Taiwan is limited in size, Mr. Wei and the Seediq Bale Team has turned their attention and efforts overseas, which has paid dividends in the form of reviews in the foreign media and a premier screening of the re-edited combined film, Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale, at the Venice Film Festival. This exposure in Europe led to distribution deals signed with Optimum Distribution in the UK and ICO/BAC in France. WellGo USA Entertainment has signed a deal for distribution in the United States, where there are limited theater screenings already organized for early 2012.

As a groundbreaker, Wei Te-Sheng has been traveling and working hard on promotional efforts, in order to ensure that the benchmarks for future Taiwanese films can continue to grow. In the process of ‘taking care of business’ for the film, Mr. Wei and his team continue to push the boundaries and increase the prestige of Taiwan’s film industry throughout the world. As for the Academy Awards, Wei Te-Sheng’s work fell short, but the expectations of his fans for future opportunities at the Oscars continue to rise.

A scene from Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale.

A scene from Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale.

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