Friday, March 18, 2016

Guest post: Assassin strikes nine times at Asian Film Awards

Shu Qui won best actress for The Assassin, which won nine prizes in all.

Keith Barclay is editor of the New Zealand film industry publication Screenz. A sponsored journalist covering Filmart, he offers Wise Kwai's Thai Film Journal tailored coverage of Filmart, the Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum and the Asian Film Awards.

Story and photos by Keith Barclay

Hou Hsiao-hsien's The Assassin was a favorite going into the evening, and left the Asian Film Awards with nine awards including Best Picture, Director and Actress.

The film has been a regular awardee at festivals since it premiered at Cannes last year, where Hou took the Best Director award. the winner of the Lifetime Achievement award at the Asian Film Awards two years ago, Hou wasn't present at the AFA ceremony in Macau, although impressively he was the evening's only absent winner.

Thirty-six films from 10 countries had gone into the AFA ceremony clutching 77 nominations for the 15 juried awards. Coming out at the end of the evening, seven titles had won something, with only The Assassin and Hong Kong feature Port of Call left clutching more than one gong.

Speaking before the event, Best Actor winner Lee Hyung-bun was asked about the diversity challenges facing the Academy in America. Lee said, "It's not only African Americans' problem. I think respect should be given to all races."

The only Thai nominee, Waruntorn Paonil, was up for the Newcomer award for her lead performance in Snap but missed out to Jessie Li from Port of Call. On the red carpet, Paonil had a brief chat with the Wise Kwai's Thai Film Journal correspondent. She shared that since the premiere of Snap at the Tokyo International Film Festival late last year, she's been strongly focused on her singing, and releasing single "Insomnia", without any film projects in the near future.

While Snap has now completed its theatrical release, a book of behind-the-scenes images and information about the film will be published next month.

Musician-actress Waruntorn Paonil was a best newcomer nominee for Snap.
On the 10th edition of the AFAs, there were more honorary awards presented than usual. While they're not competitive, the selections contributed to a sense that the region's three major players hold a pretty tight grip on the trophies. Including the honorary gongs only one of over 20 awards went to someone from beyond China (including Hong Kong and Taiwan), Japan and South Korea.

Korean actress Clara Lee, named a Rising Star the previous evening by the AFAA, hosted the awards.

Begun in 2007 by the Hong Kong International Film Festival, the Asian Film Awards is now run by the Asian Film Awards Academy, founded by three of the region's major festivals – Busan, Hong Kong and Tokyo. Here are the winners:
  • Best film: The Assassin
  • Best director: Hou Hsiao-hsien, The Assassin
  • Best screenplay: Jia Zhang-Ke, Mountains May Depart (France/Japan/China)
  • Best actor: Lee Byung-hun, Inside Men (South Korea)
  • Best actress: Shu Qi, The Assassin
  • Best newcomer: Jessie Li, Port of Call (Hong Kong)
  • Best supporting actor: Asano Tadanobu, Journey to the Shore (France/Japan)
  • Best supporting actress: Zhou Yun, The Assassin
  • Best production design: Hwarng Wern-Ying, The Assassin
  • Best costume design: Lee Ji-yeon, Shim Hyun-seob, The Throne (South Korea)
  • Best original music: Lim Giong, The Assassin
  • Best sound:  Chu Shih-Yi, Tu Duu-Chih, Wu Shu-Yao, The Assassin
  • Best visual effects: Prasad Sutar,Bajirao Mastani (India)
  • Best editing: Port of Call (Hong Kong)
  • Best cinematography: Mark Lee Ping-Bing,  The Assassin (Hong Kong/China/Taiwan)
  • Lifetime achievement award: Kirin Kiki and Yuen Wo-ping
  • Asian Box Office Award: Monster Hunt, directed by Raman Hui (China)
  • Rising Stars: Clara Lee (South Korea) and Pakho Chau (Hong Kong)
  • New Generation: Yoo Ah-in (South Korea)
  • Outstanding Contribution to Asian Cinema: Li Qian-kuan (China)
  • AFA 10th Anniversary Special Award: Feng Xiaogang (China)
Japanese actress Kirin Kiki received a Lifetime Achievement Award.

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