The Huading Film Awards, China’s No. 1 entertainment kudos fest, took place in the U.S. for the first time on Sunday evening at the Montalban Theater in Hollywood.
International film stars including Lucy Liu, Halle Berry and Orlando Bloom were among the honorees in attendance at the bilingual event, which reached over one billion viewers via broadcast as well as another 400 million viewers online. The award recipients were determined based on the votes of 80 million fans, allowing the Chinese public to celebrate their favorite films and thesps.
Don Mischer, the ceremony’s exec producer, is no stranger to the awards show scene, having produced both the Oscars and Emmys in past years. Though bringing the awards to Hollywood posed some challenges, Mischer said this was only the beginning and he looks forward to future collaborations between the world’s two top film markets.
“I view this whole thing as kind of a first step – almost like a baby step,” Mischer said, adding, “There’s much more of a cooperative exchange going on now between the cinematic communities in China and those in the United States… This thing could catch on and it could really build into something more significant because you’ve got the two largest movie markets in the world here.”
Following an introduction by co-hosts Liu and Olivia Xu (who translated the English portions of the ceremony into Chinese), “Sons of Anarchy” star Charlie Hunnam took the stage and was the first to be decorated with a golden sash as he received the best global emerging actor award.
Hunnam said he’d love to shoot a sequel to Guillermo del Toro’s “Pacific Rim” and also explained that, though he’s currently filming the final season of “Sons of Anarchy,” “I really don’t know how it’s all going to play out.”
Del Toro was also recognized with the award for best global director and recalled visiting Hong Kong for the first time when he was 22.
“I thought, ‘One day I’ll put it in a movie,'” del Toro said of his experience in China. The helmer also expressed his interest in maintaining a cinematic partnership with China.
“As long as our partnership is one where we find common ground and we admire and learn from our differences, I think it could be incredibly enriching,” he said.
Del Toro also expressed his gratitude to the “vast and loving” Chinese audience, saying, “A film for a filmmaker is like a child. So it’s 80 million people saying they like my child.”
DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg was on hand to accept the best global animated film honors on behalf of “The Croods,” and discussed the studio’s entertainment complex to be built in Shanghai as well as the third installment of the “Kung Fu Panda” franchise, slated to premiere in December 2015.
Though she didn’t talk to the press, Berry did say a few words upon receiving her global icon award, calling to mind her visit to Shanghai a few years ago and the warm welcome she received from Chinese fans.
“I felt like I was an original Beatle when I got off that airplane,” Berry said. “I hope that I will continue to be able to make movies and entertain the Chinese audience and I’m so glad that we get to have an interpersonal relationship with all of you.”
Lifetime achievement honoree and Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer also kept his comments brief, but suggested, “Let’s call it the getting started award” when discussing his prize.
Orlando Bloom was honored with the global actor icon award and the British thesp expressed how “humbled” he felt, explaining, “I never thought I’d make films all over the world.”
Jeremy Renner was voted best global supporting actor, but thanked his Chinese fans via video message as he was unable to attend.
Jordana Brewster and Tyrese Gibson accepted the final award on behalf of Universal’s “Fast and Furious 6,” voted best global movie of the year. Both actors noted a change in the atmosphere on the set of the franchise’s seventh film following the death of co-star Paul Walker.
“It’s really hard for all of us to genuinely celebrate on the level that we all should be expected to because we didn’t do any of this without our brother and friend Paul Walker,” Gibson said. “Moments like this become bittersweet.”
The evening also featured three exclusive performances by “America’s Best Dance Crew” winners Jabbawockeez, martial artists the Shaolin Warriors and Summer Jikejunyi, winner of “The Voice” China.