Once organised by the China Times Group, the inaugural award portion of Taipei Film Festival (hereinafter TFF), China Times Express Film Awards, was held in 1988, the same year as the first issue of the Express was published. After the festival’s name change to ‘Taipei Film Awards’ in 1994, Taipei City Government officially joined as the co-host in 1998, added a NT$ 1 million ‘Grand Prize’ while commencing to facilitate the screening of international films. By so doing, TFF became the first film festival in Taiwan to be funded by a city government. Held annually in summer , the Festival also organises numerous film-related activities to engage the public.
The self-positioning of TFF is to support the creation of Taiwanese films and to promote international film exchange. Its submission guideline requires directors of the films in competition to be Taiwan nationals or resident permit holders. Besides, only domestic films are eligible to compete for the Best Narrative Feature. Compared to the Golden Horse Film Festival which receives Chinese-language films worldwide, Taipei Film Festival is the award for Taiwanese, aiming to encourage the production of domestic films. The NT$ 1 million Grand Prize doesn’t limit its films in competition to narrative features; instead, it welcomes all categories including short films, documentaries and animated features. For example, the winner this year (2018) went to the animated feature, On Happiness Road. In the previous years, numerous documentaries were awarded as well. Some such examples are Let It Be (2004, winner of 2005), Let The Wind Carry Me (2009, winner of 2010) and Taivalu : Taiwan vs. Tuvalu (2010, winner of 2011).
In terms of international exchange, the Festival added “International New Talent Competition” unit in 2005. It is Taiwan’s first international competition focused on the first two narrative feature and non-fiction films of emerging filmmakers. It aims to facilitate international exchange among emerging filmmakers while expanding the horizons of Taiwanese practitioners.
There were several times when members of Legislative Yuan (analogous to the parliament in the UK) questioned the lack of Taiwan character in the Golden Horse Film Awards. In fact, the Awards doesn’t intend to encourage domestic films but aims for becoming the highest honour of Chinese-language cinema. It is Taipei Film Festival that strives to promote and support Taiwanese films.