The 12th edition of the Asian Film Awards saw Chen Kaige’s “The Legend of the Demon Cat” emerge as the numerical winner. But it missed out on the best film prize, which went to “Youth,” directed by fellow mainland Chinese director Feng Xiaogang.
“Demon Cat,” a period fantasy mounted on an unparalleled scale in China and Japan, took four awards. It claimed the supporting actress, costume, visual effects and production design awards. But it was omitted from the five best film nominees, and therefore excluded from the top prize.
“Youth” is a coming-of-age drama that follows the personal and political ups and downs of a military dance troupe during the China’s Cultural Revolution. It was supposed to have been released in Oct. 1, but was abruptly pulled by the Chinese government, apparently sensitive to criticism. The film was later released in mid-December and became a critical and commercial smash, earning $224 million (RMB1.42 billion).
Warmest applause of the evening went to Hong Kong star Louis Koo, who was named best actor in “Paradox.” Koo is enormously popular and hard working, and is the talent ambassador for the Hong Kong film festival, but is not normally considered as an contender. “I’ve appeared in over 200 movies and this is the first time I’ve ever won an award,” said Koo from the podium, before thanking investors and others who have had faith in him over the years.
Popular on Variety
Most tearful moment came from Hong Kong-based Taiwanese polymath Sylvia Chang. “Film making is not about winning awards,” she said as she picked up her second prize of the night. “It is about conveying real feelings.”
Also much appreciated was veteran Hong Kong actress Kara Wai (aka Kara Hui), who has been performing for 41 years and collected the Excellence in Asian Cinema award. Her career started in the 1980s under contract to the Shaw Brothers. She enjoyed a major revival in the past decade, relaunched by a dramatic role in Malaysian director Ho Yuhang’s “At the End of Daybreak.”
The ceremony on Saturday night was held in the Venetian Theater, part of the massive Venetian casino and hotel in Macau’s Cotai strip district. Local official, Maria Helena de Senna Fernades kept the formalities to a minimum. And, being broadcast live on local TV, helped kept the event moving along at an efficient pace.
In attendance were executives including Fred Wang, Katherine Lee, Michael and David Uslan, Max Michael, Byron Mann, Andrew Ooi, Takeo Hisamatsu, and Yasushi Shiina.
Talent present on the night included Johnny To, Andrew Lau, Mabel Cheung, Janice Man, and Ruth Boston,
The awards also served as the beginning of three weeks of industry and public events held across the Pearl River estuary from Hong Kong in Macau. On Monday the pace is picked up by the four-day FilMart, and in the evening by the opening night festivities of the Hong Kong International Film Festival.
2018 Asian Film Awards winners
- Best Film
- Best Director
Ishii Yuya (Japan) for “The Tokyo Night Sky is Always the Densest Shade of Blue”
- Best Screenplay
Mayanayk Tewari, Amit Masurkar (India) for “Newton”
- Best Actor
Louis Koo (Hong Kong) “Paradox”
- Best Actress
Sylvia Chang (Taiwan) in “Love Education”
- Best Supporting Actor
Yang Ik-June (Japan) in “Wilderness”
- Best Supporting Actress
Zhang Yuqi (China) in “The Legend of the Demon Cat”
- Best Action Film
“Paradox” (Hong Kong)
- Best Newcomer
Chutimon Cheungcharoensukying (Thailand) in “Bad Genius”
- Best New Director
Dong Yue (China) “The Looming Storm”
- Best Cinematography
Kim Jiyoung (Korea) for “The Fortress”
- Next Generation Award
Lim Yoon-a (Korea)
- Best Original Music
- Joe Hisaishi (Japan) for “Our Time Will Come”
- Best Sound
Tuu Di-chih and Wu Shu-yao (Taiwan) for “The Great Buddha+”
- Best Editing
Shin Min-kyung (Korea) for “The King”
- Best Visual Effects
Ishi Norio (Japan) for “The Legend of the Demon Cat”
- Best Costume Design
Chen Tongxun (China) for “The Legend of the Demon Cat”
- Best Production Design
Tu Nan and Lu Wei (China) for “The Legend of the Demon Cat”
- Excellence In Asian Cinema Award
Kara Wai (Hong Kong)
- 2017 Highest Grossing Asian Film
“Wolf Warrior 2”
- Lifetime Achievement Award