Crime film Trivisa takes top prize at Hong Kong Film Awards
Live broadcast of award ceremony was blocked in mainland China when Trivisa, which is banned there, was mentioned at the presentation
Hong Kong crime film Trivisa – which is banned in mainland China – scooped the Best Film award at the 36th Hong Kong Film Awards, the city’s answer to the Oscars. It took a total of five awards on Sunday night – the largest number among all nominated films.
The film’s director, Johnnie To Kei-fung, originally produced the film as a training exercise for younger directors without any intention to win prizes.
Live updates of the award ceremony were blocked on some websites in mainland China when the film was mentioned.
The film industry has speculated that the ban may be related to the film’s co-director, Jevons Au Man-kit, who was also a co-director of Ten Years, a popular but controversial dystopian film which won the best film award last year.
Ten Years paints a grim picture of life in Hong Kong in 2025 under Chinese rule. It was slammed on the mainland for being “absurd” and “pessimistic”.
Trivisa is based on the period around the city’s handover in 1997. It included some scenes depicting corrupt mainland officials.
The three directors of Trivisa – Frank Hui, Vicky Wong and Au – took the Best Director award.
Gordon Lam Ka-tung was named Best Actor for his role in Trivisa as Kwai Ping-hung, one of Hong Kong’s most notorious criminals in the 1990s. The film was based on the lives of mobsters Kwai, Yip Kai-foon and Cheung Tze-keung.
The 49-year-old veteran, who started his acting career at TVB in 1987, was earlier honoured with the same prize in the Hong Kong Film Critics Society Award.
“It really doesn’t matter how old you are or what your attractiveness is when you act. What’s the most important is to act with passion. I’m very proud of being a Hong Kong actor as it’s been nurturing me so much for so many years,” Lam said as he tried to hold back tears.
Another film, Mad World, directed by Wong Chun on a tiny HK$2 million budget from the government, took three awards.
Wong, born in 1988, won the honour for Best New Director after securing the same prize in Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards last year for his film, which took just 16 days to film.
“I want to thank all those who watched the movie. Some people said Hong Kong audiences wouldn’t like this type of movie, but the box office results and responses we got so far proved otherwise,” the millennial director said.
“Audience taste is forever changing. Together I hope we can expand our imagination and bring new changes to Hong Kong’s movie industry,” he added.
The film pictures a mentally ill stockbroker struggling to reconcile with his estranged father and his worried ex-fiancée.
Other winners for the movie included Taiwan-born actress Elaine Jin Yan-ling, who won her fourth Best Supporting Actress award, a prize she has been nominated for 10 times. It only took her one day to complete her scene in Mad World due to the limited budget.
“I especially wanted to win the prize because I knew I had the chance to get it from both the Golden Horse Awards and in Hong Kong,” she said backstage.
“I am not young anymore, which makes my working opportunities also less than before. I treasure the chance to act every time.”
Eric Tsang won the Best Supporting Actor for his role in Mad World. He performed free of charge.
“It would be great if both of us could win,” he shouted to his son Derek Tsang, whose film Soul Mate was nominated for 12 prizes but only secured one for Best Original Film Score.
Mermaid, directed by comedy superstar Stephen Chow Sing-chi, did not win anything despite eight nominations.
The Best Actress award was claimed by local actress Kara Hui Ying-hung for the third time with her performance in Happiness. The film centred around the story of a cognitive disorder patient.
The sobbing 57-year-old thanked her mother, who passed away a few months ago.
“The film reminds me of my mother. Mum, please be proud of me,” she said.
Best New Performer was athlete-turned-actor Tony Wu Tsz-tung for his role in the film Weeds on Fire, which was adapted from the true story of the Shatin Martins, the first baseball team from Hong Kong to win a league title.
“As I have decided to change my career from being a baseball player to an actor, I hope to carry on with a sportsman-like attitude,” he said.
Weeds on Fire was also cut out of live updates on some mainland websites. It showed scenes of the Occupy protests in Hong Kong in 2014.
Over a third of the nearly 60 local films this year were made by emerging directors, compared with single-digit numbers in the past, the Hong Kong Film Awards association said.
As a result it increased the number of nominations for best new director from three to five.
The average age of directors nominated this year was 41 compared with 51 last year, according to Aaron Kwok Fu-shing, who handed out the Best Director award.
Frank Hui, Jevons Au, Vicky Wong (Trivisa)
Gordon Lam (Trivisa)
Kara Wai ( Happiness )
Best Supporting Actor
Eric Tsang (Mad World)
Best Supporting Actress
Elaine Jin (Mad World)
Best New Performer
Tony Wu (Weeds on Fire)
Peter Pau, Cao Yu (See You Tomorrow)
Best Film Editing
Allen Leung, David Richardson (Trivisa)
Best Art Direction
See You Tomorrow
Best Sostume and Make-up Design
The Monkey King 2
Best Action Choreography
Best Original Film Score
Peter Kam, Yusuke Hatano (Soul Mate)
Best Original Film Song
Anthem of Shatin Martins (Weeds on Fire)
Best Sound Design
Kinson Tsang, George Lee Yiu-Keung ( Cold War 2 )
Best Visual Effects
The Monkey King 2
Best New Director
Wong Chun (Mad World)
Best Film from China and Taiwan