South Korea Takes Top Prizes at Asian Film Awards


18 March 2008

South Korea took the top three prizes at the Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong, an event that celebrates and promotes Asian film. Claudia Blume reports from Hong Kong.

"And the Asian film award for best film goes to: 'Secret Sunshine', Lee Chang-dong!"

Secret Sunshine, a South Korean movie about a widow's mental breakdown after her son dies, was the big winner at the Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong Monday night. It picked up best picture award, as well as prizes for best director, for Lee Chang-dong, and best actress. Jeon Do-yeon won the award for her portrayal of the distraught mother.

Tony Leung and Jeon Do-yeon at Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong
Tony Leung and Jeon Do-yeon at Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong
Jeon says it was very difficult for her to play a mother who has lost her child as she does not have children herself.

The prize for best actor went to veteran Hong Kong movie star Tony Leung, for his performance in the erotic spy thriller Lust, Caution, directed by Taiwan's Ang Lee.

His co-star Tang Wei, who was nominated for best actress, has been blacklisted by Beijing following her sexually explicit role in the movie. In the run-up to the Olympics, China has cracked down on broadcasters and other media showing sexually explicit content. Chinese TV stations have been asked not to air commercials that feature the Chinese actress. After picking up his award, Tony Leung defended Tang.

He says the role of actors is to do well in their roles and he thinks that they should not be blacklisted because of this.

Joan Chen holds award for Best Supporting Actress at Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong
Joan Chen holds award for Best Supporting Actress at Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong
Another veteran movie star, Chinese-American Joan Chen, took home the top price for best supporting actress for her performance in the Chinese movie The Sun Also Rises. The 46-year-old said after the awards ceremony that it is getting harder for her to find the right roles.

"I really, truly hope that the writers in the industry will pay more attention to women of my age," she said. "There aren't a lot of parts. You know, with an experience in life, there should be more interesting parts, but in reality they are very rare."

Japanese director Yamada Yoji, who has directed more than 70 films over a 50-year career, received a lifetime achievement award.

This is the second annual awards. Hong Kong introduced the Asian Film Awards, which coincide with the city's annual film festival, last year.

Organizers say they want to honor talent in the region, following the rising prominence of Asian films in recent years. Directors and actors from Asia are becoming key players in the film industry in both the United States and Europe. Several prominent international directors have remade Asia classics over the past few decades or have used Asian cinematic styles in their films.