Taiwan-based film director Midi Z (趙德胤), who captured two awards in Europe for his latest feature film "Ice Poison” in June, has expressed his gratitude to Taiwan for serving as his "cradle of creativity.”
Midi Z received his first-ever director award from Sweden's Peace and Love Film Festival on June 26, and on the following day, "Ice Poison” was named the Best Film in the International Competition segment of the 68th Edinburgh International Film Festival on June 27.
Dalarna-based P&L Film Festival praised Midi Z as "one of the world's best upcoming indie film directors” for "employing an unconventional cine verita style and shining a light on the brutal existence of an otherwise unknown culture.”
The Edinburgh panel also released a statement saying "for a meticulously observed and perfectly crafted look at economic despair in the rural and developing landscape of Myanmar, the temptation of easy money and the consequence of ruinous choices... for the assured tone and quiet melancholy of this re-telling of the fall from Eden, the award for best International Feature Film goes to ‘Ice Poison.'”
The latest victory marks the first time a Taiwan-made film has won the Best Film award at the Edinburgh film festival, one of the most significant annual film festivals in the United Kingdom. It was also the first Best Film award Midi Zi has received from an international film festival in his filmmaking career.
Midi Zi's 'Ice Poison' beat strong competitors from 11 countries to win the award, which comes with a cash prize of NT$500,000 (£10,000/US$16,666) from the Edinburgh film festival. The Ministry of Culture has also granted a cash prize of NT$100,000 (US$3,347) to his partner film production company.
Born in Myanmar, Midi Z came to Taiwan on a scholarship at the age of 16 to pursue his film interests. Through the Golden Horse Film Academy program, he was mentored by the likes of Oscar-winning filmmaker Ang Lee (李安) and celebrated Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien (侯孝賢). The 32-year-old director currently holds Republic of China citizenship and completes his post-production work in Taipei.
In recognition of his creativity and perseverance, as well as his contributions to boosting Taiwan's international profile, Culture Minister Lung Ying-tai met with the director in person on June 30, calling him a "child of Taiwan” and a source of pride for the descendants of the Chinese diaspora.
The Culture Minister also highlighted the open and tolerant environment that thrives in Taiwan, citing this year's Golden Melody winners Singaporean singer JJ Lin (林俊傑) and Malaysian songwriter Penny Tai (戴佩妮) as other examples of foreign-born creative professionals who've found their calling in Taiwan.
Midi Z, who came to Taiwan from Myanmar at the age of 16, said he could not imagine what he would be doing now had he not come to Taiwan. He said Taiwan's free and open society and renowned Taiwanese directors such as Ang Lee and Hou Hsiao-hsien have influenced his works.
"Ice Poison," shot in Myanmar by a Taiwanese production crew, charts the economic despair in the rural and developing parts of the Southeast Asian country. It centers on a poor Burmese farmer who was lured into selling crystal meth, which is known as "ice poison" in Chinese. The film will hit local theaters on July 18.