Filmmakers from around the region have high expectations of the born-again Asian Film Awards being held in Macau tonight, hoping the event will promote and unify the now diverse Asian cinema.
The awards, which take place for the eighth time tonight, are organised by a newly established Asian Film Awards Academy formed by the Hong Kong International Film Festival, Busan International Film Festival in South Korea and Japan’s Tokyo International Film Festival.
Japanese filmmakers said they were delighted to see their country’s involvement. Fumitsugu Ikeda, a producer of The Great Passage, which is competing for best film, best supporting actor and best screenwriter, said the cinema world has entered a new era and the Japanese population was shrinking. He said Japan should not just be doing its own things but should be reaching out to co-produce projects with others.
Watch: Stars hit Asian Film Awards red carpet
Tokyo Family’s producer Hiroshi Fukasawa said most Japanese films were launched only in Japan in the past. “It’s time for us to go hand in hand and face the world together,” he said.
Action star Donnie Yen Ji-dan, a jury member for the awards this year, said it was a tough call for him. He refused to give away his verdict before the results are announced but said he judged films from an actor’s and audience’s perspectives, not the budget or box office.
“As an actor, I study how other actors portray their roles and imagine what I would’ve done if I were to play that role,” Yen told the Post.
“Every country has a unique cultural background to offer, but a good film is always the one that touches your heart.”
Yen said Asian films have been getting lots of exposure, which was not just because they were being presented at Western festivals and awards like the Oscars, but also they were reaching out to a greater audience.
He said that with China being the world’s second-largest film market, Chinese filmmakers will enjoy greater benefits.
Acclaimed director Tsai Ming-liang, whose art house feature Stray Dogs competes for best film, best director, best actor and best cinematographer, said while there has been too much emphasis over the market in filmmaking, a film event aiming at promoting films outside of mainstream has given him “a bit of hope”.
Stars and renowned filmmakers from around the world strutted down the red carpet at City of Dreams in Macau.
Acclaimed French actress Isabelle Huppert joined Korean award-winning actress Jeon Do-yeon and mainland star Zhang Ziyi, a hot candidate for the best actress award with her role in Wong Kar-wai’s The Grandmaster, which is also up for best film, best director and best actor.
The glamorous evening also saw the attendance of The Great Passage’s edgy star Joe Odagiri, who is up for the best supporting actor award, and Korean actor Song Kang-ho, who is competing for best actor with his role in drama The Attorney.
A total of 26 films from 13 countries and regions are competing for 14 awards.