Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture has selected The Assassin (original title Nie yin niang) in its bid for Best Foreign Film in the Academy Awards race.
A film in the wuxia genre (a period piece focusing on the martial arts skills of its heroic characters), The Assassin revolves around a young woman in 9th century China, played by Qi Shu (The Transporter). Abducted as an infant and raised by a nun in the tradition of martial arts, she returns 13 years later to her homeland as a trained killer who must choose between the sacred way of exceptional assassins and taking the life of a man she loves.
Hou Hsiao-hsien (Three Times) won the Best Director prize at Cannes earlier this year, and the film was nominated for the festival’s Palme d’Or but lost to France’s Dheepan. This is the director’s first feature film since Flight Of The Red Balloon in 2007. Two of Hou’s films – Flowers of Shanghai in 1998 and City of Sadness in 1989 – represented Taiwan at the Oscars, but neither was nominated by the Academy. The only Taiwanese submission to have won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film was another wuxia feature, Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in 2001.
The intense, enigmatic film has been praised for its cinematography, dreamlike beauty and compositional artistry. It will be screened next at the Toronto International Film Festival, which began today, and at the New York Film Festival. Well Go USA Entertainment is planning a U.S. release on October 16.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will nominate five films for Best Foreign Language Film. Oscar nominees will be announced on January 14, 2016. The Academy Awards ceremony will be held on February 28, 2016.