A second Academy Award for director Ang Lee has surprised his home of Taiwan as much as Hollywood.
Lee Gang, the director's brother, said he thought Life of Pi might not be an Oscar favorite because its theme isn't mainstream. The shipwreck story of an Indian boy on a boat with a tiger was crafted with a production team of international artistic and visual effects workers, whose efforts helped the film garner the most awards of Sunday evening's ceremony with four.
It was honored for its visual effects, cinematography and original score, in addition to Lee's directing. The best-director race was seen as the night's biggest surprise as Steven Spielberg had been favored for Lincoln.
Taiwanese TV stations on Monday called Lee "the Glory of Taiwan" and reran his Oscar ceremony address in which he said that he could not have made the movie "without the help of Taiwan."
Lee has said the key setting for "Life of Pi" — a large water tank built at a studio in Taiwan — allowed the crew to use its imagination freely and not be restrained by Hollywood values.
The film has been a global box-office success and did well in Taiwan because of Lee's popularity and because much of it was shot on the island. After his win, Lee encouraged other Asian and non-American filmmakers to try to tackle Hollywood.
"I think sometimes this disadvantage can be an advantage. The fact that I come from another culture makes me special," he said.
Lee won his first best director Academy Award for 2005's "Brokeback Mountain." He also had been nominated for "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."