Filmmaker Wong Kar-wai becomes first Hong Kong director to win Lumière Award

Director of films such as Chungking Express and In the Mood for Love becomes first Hong Kong filmmaker to win ‘Nobel Prize for cinema’

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 October, 2017, 8:00pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 January, 2018, 11:55am

Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai, director of Chungking Express and In the Mood for Love, has been honoured with a prestigious award at a major film festival in Lyon, France.

Wong became the first local director to win the Lumière Award – often described as the “Nobel Prize for cinema” – joining a list of high-profile filmmakers including Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino.

The Lumière Festival, which is run by Cannes Film Festival delegate general Thierry Frémaux and French director Bertrand Tavernier, said Wong’s films had “reached beyond the circle of movie-goers and critics, attracting a public drawn to his search for the aesthetic and poetic”.

The prize was given to Wong on Friday evening for “his unclassifiable films, each with countless flares of beauty; for the trace he is leaving upon cinema history; for all that is glorious and lingering in his work; for the neon lights of Hong Kong and the snows of Manchuria; and because, after all, dark glasses are undeniably classy,” the festival said, referring to the director’s usual look.

American film director and actor Clint Eastwood, Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar and French actress Catherine Deneuve were among those previously distinguished by the prize originally created to celebrate a filmmaker or personality of the cinema in Lyon, where the cinematograph was invented by the Lumière brothers.

Wong paid tribute to his wife on receiving the award.

“All the wonderful female characters in my films have a glimpse of my wife Esther in them … I dedicate this award ... to my muse,” he said, according to Radio France International.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah congratulated the filmmaker, who moved to Hong Kong from Shanghai at the age of five.

“The award is an international recognition of the exceptional contribution of Wong to the film industry worldwide. We applaud his achievement in successfully demonstrating to the international audience the quality and stylistic work of our Hong Kong filmmakers,” Yau said.

The minister also pledged to work with the Film Development Council to support the city’s film industry.

Wong’s work includes 10 feature films and several short films and clips, with Fallen Angels, Happy Together , 2046 and My Blueberry Nights among them. The Grandmaster (2013), a biography of Yip Man – martial arts master and Bruce Lee mentor – is his latest film.

The closing ceremony for the ninth edition of the Lumière Festival will be held on Saturday, with Wong introducing the world premiere of the restored print of In the Mood for Love, which was originally released in 2000.