Ang Lee wins best director Oscar for Life of Pi
Feb 25 2013 , Los Angeles
With his second Oscar win, Lee brings focus back to India, whose culture and ethos are an important part of the narrative.
Lee, 58, beat Spielberg ("Lincoln"), Haneke ("Amour"), David O Russell ("Silver Linings Playbook") and Indie filmmaker Benh Zeitlin ("Beasts of the Southern Wild") to win his second Academy award in the category.
"I really need to share this with everybody who worked in 'Life of Pi'. I need to thank Yann Martel for writing this marvelous book...," Lee said in his speech before ending it with a 'Namaste'.
The auteur, a five-time Oscar nominee, previously won the trophy for his 2005 gay cowboys drama "Brokeback Mountain".
Like "Life of Pi", his "Crouching Tiger Hiden Dragon" was nominated for best picture and directing honours.
In the film, an adaptation of Martel's Booker-prize winning novel, Lee took on the challenge of filming the movie, mostly set in the ocean, with an almost entirely Indian cast consisting of newcomer Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Tabu and Adil Hussain.
He spent four years translating the book to the screen that included building an enormous wave tank to shoot ocean scenes besides creating a terrifyingly believable tiger through the help of CGI.
The movie narrates the story of Pi, a zookeeper's son in Pondicherry, who finds the world he knows swept away when his family is killed in a storm while on their way to Canada. Pi escapes, set adrift in a lifeboat that is also the refuge of an enormous Bengal tiger.
Lee made several trips, including one to promote the film, to India to research and cast the movie. He chose the then 17-year-old newcomer Suraj to play the lead from 3,000 hopefuls.
In an interview to PTI during his trip to Mumbai, Lee had said that he felt a sense of belonging to Pi's journey, which somehow mirrored his own struggles to direct the technically superb spectacle.
The filmmaker, who is behind genre-defying movies like "Sense and Sensibility", "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon", "Hulk" and "Brokeback Mountain", also credited destiny for bringing the movie to him after it changed hands with many directors.
"When I started doing the movie I felt like I had a sense of belonging. I started longing to be a part of it and the movie became mine," Lee had said.