Veteran Paw Hee-ching last night became the first local star in five years to win the best actress award at the Hong Kong Film Awards. But her victory could not hide a problem that threatens a business many see as the flagship of Hong Kong's creative industries: local actresses, especially young ones, are more and more losing out to mainland counterparts in the awards race. Prior to the win for Paw, 59 - for her role as an optimistic single mother in Ann Hui On-wah's low-budget docudrama The Way We Are - the last time a Hong Kong actress won the city's best actress award was in 2004, when Cecilia Cheung Pak-chi took the prize for her part in the heart-wrenching drama Lost in Time. In 2005, Zhang Ziyi won the award for her role in Hong Kong auteur Wong Kar-wai's 2046. The following year, Zhou Xun claimed the prize for her part in Hong Kong director Peter Chan Ho-sun's musical Perhaps Love. In 2007, Gong Li was named best actress for her part in costume drama The Curse of the Golden Flower, while last year Siqin Gaowa won the prize for her role in The Postmodern Life of My Aunt. Paw's victory could not disguise the lack of promising young female stars coming through in the city. 'This is a wake-up call not only for local actresses but the entire local film industry,' said Bryan Chang Wai-hung, chairman of the Hong Kong Film Critics Society. He says the city's actresses only have themselves to blame, saying they share the bad traits of the kong nui - the name some men have given to a class of Hong Kong women they see as narcissistic, narrow-minded and obsessed with money. 'They focus on the monetary results of filming instead of the process of acting in films, but as fine actresses the process is the most important,' he said. Hong Kong actresses had been trounced by mainland counterparts who were better trained, more versatile and more determined. Leading Hong Kong actors such as Anthony Wong Chau-sang, Francis Ng Chun-yu and Lau Ching-wan, on the other hand, were more determined to polish their acting skills instead of boosting their success with fame and money, Chang said. Cheuk Pak-tong, head of Baptist University's cinema and television department, blamed the lack of promising local actresses on the masculine storylines of Hong Kong films. 'There isn't enough room for actresses to polish their skills.' Hui's film, set in the New Territories new town of Tin Shui Wai, was the big winner last night. Hui won best director, and it took prizes for best supporting actor and screenplay. Ip Man, a biopic about Bruce Lee's kung fu teacher, won best picture.