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‘Handmaiden,’ ‘Bovary,’ ‘Train’ Lead Asian Film Awards Nominations

Korea’s “The Handmaiden” leads the nominations for the Asian Film Awards, which took a strongly North East Asian tilt this year. Feng Xiaogang and his socio-political drama “I Am Not Madame Bovary” ranked second among the nominees.

The AFA nominations were announced Wednesday in Hong Kong. The prizes will be presented on March 21 at a ceremony that returns to Hong Kong after excursions in previous years to Macau.

Lesbian fantasy drama “The Handmaiden,” which debuted in Cannes competition, earned six nominations for performance and design, but AFA selectors omitted the celebrated Park Chan-wook from the best director category. Nor was the film was among the five best picture nominees.

In the running for best picture are “The Wailing,” and “The Age of Shadows” from Korea, “Harmonium” from Japan, “Godspeed” from Taiwan, and China’s “Bovary.”

Feng’s most art house picture to date, gained five nominations including best film, director, and actress for superstar Fan Bingbing in a gritty acting role.

Also earning five nominations – though not for best film, script or best director – was Korea’s pan-Asian hit “Train to Busan.” Other commercial hits, Japan’s “Your Name,” “The Mermaid” and “Operation Mekong” only secured one nomination each.

After previous editions of the AFAs found growing room for South Asian and Middle Eastern contenders, the 2017 nominations include only one for India (veteran Shabana Azmi as supporting actress in “Neerja”) and one from Iran (Asghar Farhadi as screenwriter of “The Salesman”.)

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