Stars to shine at first Asian Film Awards

Celebrities across Asia will bring glitz and glamour, as well as some healthy competition, to Hong Kong tomorrow for the first pan-Asian film awards ceremony.
The Asian Film Awards are being launched by the Hong Kong International Film Festival.

Among the directors attending are Luc Besson of France and South Korea’s Park Chan Wook, whose film Old Boy was a Grand Prix winner at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival.

Korean actor and singer Jung Ji Hoon, better known as Rain, Japanese idol Hirosue Ryoko, and actor Tony Leung Chiu-wai will tread the red carpet, along with local director Andrew Lau Wai-keung, whose Infernal Affairs was remade into the Oscar-winning gangster flick The Departed.

"With more than four billion people in Asia – 60 percent of the global population – a celebration of Asian cinema is long overdue," HKIFF chairman Wilfred Wong said.

More than 30 films are competing for best film, director, actress, actor, screenwriter, cinematographer, production designer, composer, editor and visual effects.

South Korea’s hit monster flick, The Host, received five nominations, including best film, actor, cinematographer, editor and visual effects.

Veteran director Zhang Yimou’s Curse of Golden Flower won three nods for best film, visual effects and best actress for Gong Li.

Hong Kong director Johnnie To Kei-fung’s gang epic, Exiled, earned two for best director and best film.

Mainland movie Still Life, winner of a top prize at the Venice Film Festival last year, garnered three for best film, composer and director for Jia Zhangke.

Japanese smash drama, Love and Honor and Indonesia’s Opera Jawa got the best film honors.

The award show and the film festival will be held in conjunction with the third Entertainment Expo, which combines eight events in film, digital entertainment and music.

The Expo, which runs from tomorrow through April 15, includes a film and TV market, local film awards, a digital entertainment forum as well as a music fair and awards.

"We certainly welcome and support events like this because they bring the Hong Kong film industry more exposure in the region," said Woody Tsung, chief executive of Motion Picture Industry Association.

"I hope this will create more business opportunities for us," he said.

Alongside To and Jia, Iran’s Jafar Panahi will be competing for the best director gong for his black comedy Offload with Korea’s Hong Sang Soo (Woman on the Beach), Taiwan’s Tsai Ming-liang (I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone) and Thailand’s Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Syndromes and a Century).

Apart from Gong Li, Chinese starlet Zhang Ziyi was nominated as best actress for The Banquet, along with Korean actresses Kim Hye Soo (Tazza: The High Rollers) and Lim Soo Jung (I’m a Cyborg, but That’s OK) as well as Japan’s Miyazawa Rie (Hana) and Nakatani Miki (Memories of Matsuka).

Korean idol Rain will be vying for the best actor prize for his role in romantic comedy I’m a Cyborg, but That’s OK, alongside Hong Kong heart- throb Andy Lau Tak-wah in historical action drama A Battle of Wits and acclaimed Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan in Don. Their rivals are Taiwan’s Chang Chen (The Go Master), South Korea’s Song Kang Ho (The Host) and Japan’s Ken Watanabe (Memories of Tomorrow).

Special honors will be given to movie theorist David Bordwell and Josephine Siao Fong-fong, legendary Hong Kong actress and winner of the 1995 Berlin Film festival for her role in Summer Snow, for their contribution in Asian cinema.

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