11th Asian Film Awards Crowns Stellar Films From The Region
South Korea And China Dominates at the “Oscars of Asia”
The Asian film industry all came together on a dazzling night of spectacle and cinema at the 11th Asian Film Awards (AFA) last 21st March, 2017, showcasing the celebrated works of filmmakers from around 12 countries across Asia, from China all the way to Qatar, at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre. For the last 3 years, the AFA has taken place at Macau, but to celebrate this year’s 20th anniversary of the British handover of the territory back to China, the posh ceremony returned across the pond to the Kowloon waterfront.
Chinese comedy, I Am Not Madame Bovary, directed by Feng Xiaogang and written by Liu Zhenyun, based on Zhenyun’s 2012 novel of the same name, took on the biggest prize as Best Film. The contemporary, social satire about a peasant woman with a grievance toward her swindling ex-husband and then takes on the entire Chinese legal system, also won the Best Actress award for Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing, who portrays the title character.
Upon acceptance of her award, Fan Bingbing, who is among the highest paid celebrities in the world and a constant repeater on top fashion magazines’ Best Dressed Lists, commented that this is the first character she’s ever played that was totally unglamorous. She credited her director, Xiaogang, for the opportunity to portray a role unlike any other that she had ever done in I Am Not Madame Bovary. Completing the roll of the film’s awards at the AFA is Best Cinematography for Chinese cinematographer, Luo Pan.
South Korea also dominated at the AFA, with The Handmaiden, Park Chan-wook’s erotic, lesbian thriller bagging 4 awards, namely for Best Supporting Actress for Moon So-ri, Best Newcomer for Kim Tae-ri, Best Production Design for Ryu Seong-hie, and Best Costume Design for Cho Sang-kyung. The Handmaiden, a story about a handmaiden who eventually falls in love with the heiress she was hired to con, is in keeping with Park Chan-wook’s graphic and corrosive storytelling style as in his 2003 cult thriller, Old Boy.
Another South Korean winner at the AFA was Na Hong-jin, who took home the Best Director award for his fantasy-horror blockbuster, The Wailing. Rounding out the South Korean winners is The Age of Shadows, the action thriller directed by Kim Jee-woon, which won Best Original Music for composer Lee Sung-hyun, more famously known as “Mowg.”
Chinese director Jia Zhangke, who won the Golden Lion award for Best Film at the 2006 Venice Film Festival for his small-town drama, Still Life, led as president of the jury selection committee for the 11th AFA. The multi-awarded, independent filmmaker commented, “In Asia, movies are not only for entertainment, but also about understanding social issues, telling the history and understanding the urgency of facing reality.”
At the end of the awards ceremony, Jia playfully capped the night off by thanking the AFA’s accountants, who correctly handed off all the envelopes to announce the rightful winners. This was in relation to the unforgettable gaffe at the 89th Academy Awards last February 26, 2017, in which the Best Picture award was mistakenly read to the audience and caused a brouhaha that launched countless memes and late night show jokes.
The complete winners of the 11th Asian Film Awards are listed below:
Best Film: I Am Not Madame Bovary (China)
Best Director: Na Hong-jin in The Wailing (South Korea)
Best Actress: Fan Bingbing in I Am Not Madame Bovary (China)
Best Actor: Asano Tadanobu in Harmonium (Japan)
Best Supporting Actress: Moon So-ri in The Handmaiden (South Korea)
Best Supporting Actor: Lam Suet in Trivisa (Hong Kong)
Best Screenplay: Ashgar Farhadi in The Salesman (Iran)
Best Editing: Lee Chatametikool and Natalie Soh in Apprentice (Singapore)
Best Production Design: Ryu Seong-hie in The Handmaiden (South Korea)
Best Costume Design: Cho Sang-kyung in The Handmaiden (South Korea)
Best Sound: Fang Tao and Hao Zhiyu in Crosscurrent (China)
Best Original Music: Mowg in The Age of Shadows (South Korea)
Best Visual Effects: Ohya Tetsuo in Shin Godzilla (Japan)
Best Cinematography: Luo Pan in I Am Not Madame Bovary (China)
Rising star of Asia: Jelly Lin (China)
Excellence in Asian Cinema Award: Sammi Cheng (Hong Kong)
Lifetime Achievement Award: Tsui Hark (China)