'Blind Massage' takes top honour at Macau's 9th Asian Film Awards
Chinese drama takes best film prize while local director Ann Hui wins for 'The Golden Era'
Chinese drama Blind Massage took top honours at the Asian Film Awards last night, beating out The Golden Era and Berlin International Film Festival Golden Bear winner Black Coal, Thin Ice for best film.
Blind Massage, a drama directed by Lou Ye that explores the world of sight-impaired masseurs, also won the best cinematography award.
While Hong Kong director Ann Hui On-wah's The Golden Era, a biopic of Chinese author Xiao Hong, led the nomination race with five, it went home with two awards: best director for Hui and best supporting actor for Wang Zhiwen's portrayal of Chinese writer Lu Xun.
"Half of this award should go to my scriptwriter [Li Qiang]," said Hui, who received a lifetime achievement award at the 2012 event.
Although noir thriller Black Coal, Thin Ice missed out on the best film award, director and writer Diao Yinan snagged the best screenwriter prize. The film's lead, Chinese actor Liao Fan, took the best actor award, as he did at the Berlinale.
But the night's biggest winner was more of a surprise. Chinese director Jiang Wen's film Gone With The Bullets, though panned by critics, scored three awards - best visual effects, best production designer and best costume designer for William Chang Suk-ping's flamboyant costumes.
The trilingual ceremony - in Cantonese, English and Putonghua - took place at the Venetian Macao casino's theatre. Forty-two films from eight regions in Asia were selected from out of 1,000 eligible works to compete for 14 awards. "It was a tough decision," said Hong Kong director Mabel Cheung Yuen-ting, who served as the awards' jury president this year.
Korean actress Bae Doo-na, who played a police academy instructor struggling to settle into a small town after being transferred from Seoul in the drama A Girl At My Door, beat Japanese actress Miyazawa Rie and Chinese leading ladies Zhao Wei, Gong Li and Tang Wei, to take home the best actress award. "I really didn't expect this," Bae said.
Japanese actress Ikewaki Chizuru, who won best supporting actress for her role in love story The Light Shines Only There, said she was surprised and encouraged to have won the award.
Now in its ninth year, the awards ceremony took place in Macau for the second time after the Asian Film Awards Academy was established in late 2013 by the Hong Kong International Film Festival, Busan International Film Festival in South Korea and Japan's Tokyo International Film Festival to organise the event that aspires to be Asia's Oscars.
Deafening screams from hundreds of fans rocked the Venetian when seven-piece K-pop boy band Infinite landed on the red carpet - staged indoors for the first time at a hotel shopping mall complex - prior to their performance at the awards show.
Michael Jackson's brother, singer Jermaine Jackson, also appeared to present the best composer award to Mikey McCleary, who missed the awards to get married, for his score for the Indian film Margarita, With A Straw.