The all-star epic Bodyguards and Assassins, which recounts the story of how a group protects 'father of the nation' Sun Yat-sen during his brief stay in Hong Kong, was the biggest winner at last night's 29th Hong Kong Film Awards, scooping eight titles, including best film. But the epic, which received 18 nominations, lost best screenplay to Alex Law Kai-yui's Echoes of the Rainbow, which won four prizes. Peter Chan Ho-sun, producer of Bodyguards, beamed when he took to the stage to receive the best film award. 'This is the first time I have taken an award for a film I served on purely as a producer,' Chan said. 'Although I am widely known as a director, I would want people to remember me as a producer.' Before last night's ceremony, Bodyguards director Teddy Chen Tak-sum was holding out hope the film would win at least nine prizes. Cheers erupted in the Cultural Centre's Grand Theatre when the host named as best actress Wai Ying-hung - who won the same award at the first Hong Kong Film Awards - for her role as an alcoholic single parent in At the End of Daybreak. The character also won her the best actress awards at the Asian Film Awards, Hong Kong Film Critics' Society awards and Golden Horse awards in Taiwan. A tearful Wai said: 'I desperately wanted this prize. I don't know why I was 'frozen' for some 10 years... I don't know why I was at a low point. I nearly gave up on myself and my life. But now I feel I confident. I know I belong to the acting industry,' she said, thanking those who had given her a hand in difficult times. Simon Yam Tat-wah cheerfully took the best actor award for playing a shoemaker and father in Echoes, which is set in the Hong Kong of the 1960s and relates the experiences of a struggling cobbler couple and their two young sons. Echoes was shot in Wing Lee Street in Central, where 12 tenement buildings were saved from demolition last month after Hongkongers took the film and the street to their hearts. 'I want to share this prize with people who are strong in the face of pitfalls. To make one's dream come true, one has to be strong and resilient,' Yam said. Nicholas Tse Ting-fung, dressed in a red suit and sporting a red scarf, won best supporting actor for his character as a rickshaw runner in Bodyguards. Michelle Ye Xuan, who won best supporting actress for her portrayal of an assassin in Accident, burst into tears as she accepted the trophy. Aarif Lee Chi-ting won best new performer as one of the sons in Echoes and as the singer of the best original film song. Funeral story Departures took best Asian film award. Fung fu master Lau Kar-leung, who went from stuntman to movie director, received a lifetime achievement award from Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Rita Lau Ng Wai-lan to a standing ovation. The audience spent a sombre moment last night paying a silent tribute to the victims of the Qinghai earthquake and Hong Kong volunteer Wong Fuk-wing, who died rescuing victims. The film industry will mount a fund-raising campaign for those affected by the quake. For the first time in 13 years, the show was broadcast by ATV, Now TV and RTHK, breaking TVB's long-time stranglehold on the broadcast.