Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture has said it will expand the country’s quota for mainland Chinese films to also include arthouse and award-winning Chinese titles.

Taiwan has a strict quota of just 10 mainland films a year, which are currently selected annually on a lottery basis.

Under the new ruling, which became effective on October 30, Taiwan will import mainland films of artistic merit, that have won major awards, outside of the annual ten-picture quota. Major awards are defined as prizes in the main sections of the Cannes, Venice and Berlin film festivals, the Academy Awards or best film or best director at Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards.

That would open the door to films such as Diao Yinan’s Black Coal, Thin Ice, which won the Golden Bear at this year’s Berlin film festival and Lou Ye’s Blind Massage, which won a Berlin Silver Bear for cinematography.

Previously, films such as Jia Zhangke’s Touch Of Sin, which won best screenplay at last year’s Cannes film festival, could not secure a release in Taiwan through the quota system. The Taiwanese distributor of Touch Of Sin got around that problem by organising a special festival of Jia Zhangke films.

The quota is designed to stop the much larger mainland Chinese film industry from swamping the relatively small Taiwanese market. However, arthouse films are not regarded as a threat. Hong Kong movies, and any film that is classified as a Hong Kong-China co-production, are also allowed to play in Taiwan.

There are no restrictions on Taiwanese films playing in mainland China, following the implementation of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), a wide-ranging trade agreement between China and Taiwan.