Thirty-eight outstanding screenplays were chosen to vie for NT$4 million in cash prizes at the 2018 Excellent Screenplay Award ceremony on April 15. The star-studded event at Taipei New Horizon was organized by the Taiwan Film Institute on behalf of the Ministry of Culture's Bureau of Audiovisual and Music Industry Development.
A total of 335 screenplay submissions were reviewed by a panel of 12 jurors comprising scriptwriters, writers, producers, directors, curators, and academics. They spent over three months reviewing the entries and finally shortlisted 38 plays for the 2018 awards.
Panel chair Sylvia Feng (馮賢賢) noted that the competing plays were quite diversified in storylines and genres, ranging from science fiction, detective, and history to wuxia, social documentary, and fantasy. She encouraged aspiring playwrights to write about issues they care deeply about and remain open to criticism.
Lai Tung-che (賴東澤) was the top winner with his sci-fi thriller "Den Ensamstaende (Lonely Journey to Mars, 紅星孤旅)," garnering NT$600,000. Set on the Red Planet, the play describes the emotional bond and power struggle between machines controlled by artificial intelligence and the sole human protagonist. Thanks to its unorthodox storyline, it was praised by the panel as "a Hollywood-grade sci-fi screenplay."
Second prize was shared by six plays, with each winning NT$350,000. Third prize was granted to 13 plays, with each taking in NT$100,000. The 20 award winners were written by both professional playwrights and amateur writers, with the latter category of participants including well-known actors and directors like Wu Ke-xi (吳可熙), Soda Voyu (蘇達), Ko Chen-nien (柯貞年), and An Bon (安邦).
Taiwan's Excellent Screenplay Award has honored a total of 514 screenplays since its inception in 1976. Among them, around 150 winning works have been made into films or are in the process of raising funds. In recent years, the award has also been increasing its efforts in matching excellent screenplays with interested parties from the local film industry.
This year, the award organizers will continue to hold forums and matchmaking workshops, including one held in the afternoon after the awards ceremony that introduced this year's winners to representatives from 29 audiovisual companies. Combined with cash prizes, such efforts hope to create a better environment for playwrights and revitalize Taiwan’s film industry by inviting audiovisual companies to invest in award-winning screenplays and convert them into commercial releases for the market.
The full list of winners can be found at the Excellent Screenplay Award's website at http://join.tfi.org.tw/esa/.