Taiwan director Ang Lee brings home an Oscar for his mother's birthday

Monday, April 23rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) _ Every dutiful son wants the best gift for his mother on her birthday. For Taiwanese director Ang Lee, the gift was a hug, a birthday cake and a gleaming Oscar.

Lee, the first Taiwanese to win an Academy Award, was met by his family in the southern city of Tainan at dawn Monday for the first time since he won international acclaim for his martial arts epic ``Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.''

``Happy birthday, mom. Today, you're my leading lady,'' the 47-year old director said as he handed his mother the golden statuette he won for best foreign film.

``It's adorable,'' Lee's mother, Lee Yangsi, said as she hugged the statuette.

Lee flew in from New York on Sunday with his Oscar award stuffed in his backpack. During his six-day homecoming, Lee is scheduled to meet with President Chen Shui-bian and other officials, as well as receive a government award.

Lee said he will donate the $30,300 prize to his high school in Tainan, where his father once served as school principal. On Monday, Lee stood outside the school waving his Oscar as students cheered from the school windows.

``Keep going at it. The road to success in the movies is long,'' Lee told reporters outside the school when asked for advice on future filmmakers.

The director is a source of enormous pride for many Taiwanese for ``Crouching Tiger,'' his first in the martial arts genre. The movie won three other Oscars for art direction, cinematography and original score.

The Mandarin-language historical romance is about a legendary sword that leads two kung-fu masters to do battle with a dangerous assassin and her young protegee. The heroes also confront their long-hidden passion for each other.

Lee, who has a master's degree in fine arts from New York University, received his first Academy Award and Golden Globe nomination in 1993 with ``A Wedding Banquet,'' a bittersweet comedy about traditional Taiwanese parents dealing with their son's homosexuality.

Lee scored his second Oscar nomination for his gastronomic romantic-comedy ``Eat Drink Man Woman'' in 1994.