‘Wife of a Spy’ Wins Top Prize at Asian Film Awards

Wife of a Spy
Courtesy of Venice Film Festival

Kurosawa Kiyoshi’s period action drama “Wife of a Spy” was the biggest winner at the 15th edition of the Asian Film Awards. It collected three major prizes including the best film award.

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Kurosawa Kiyoshi accepts the best film award from the AFAs. Asian Film Awards

The 18 prizes were handed out Friday evening at a hybrid ceremony with the in-person component held at Busan’s Paradise Hotel. Organizers said that 80 nominees attended either in person or online. Among those in Busan to tread the AFA red carpet were Korean stars and prize-winners Lee Byung-hun and Yoo Ah-in.

Directors Lee Chang-dong and Hamaguchi Ryusuke were also in attendance, along with Korean stars Jun Jong-seo, Park Jeong-min, Jang Yoon-ju, Kim Hyun-bin and Gong Seung-yeon.

“Wife of a Spy” was conceived as a TV film. A theatrical version debuted last year at the Venice Film festival and there won the Silver Lion. It enjoyed a high-profile festival career with subsequent stops at San Sebastian, El Gouna and Hainan, and a theatrical career in Japan that kicked off in October 2020.

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Lee Byung-hun makes acceptance speech at 2021 Asian Film Awards. Asian Film Awards

While “Wife” picked up the best actress prize for Aoi Yu and best costume design (Koketsu Haruki), Kurosawa missed out on the directing prize. That went instead to Chinese veteran Zhang Yimou for his tribute to cinema “One Second.” The film earned Liu Haocun the best newcomer award, while another Zhang-directed pic “Cliff Walkers” picked up the best editing award. Neither Kurosawa or Zhang were present in Busan.

In his acceptance speech for the Excellence in Asian cinema award, Lee Byung Hun expressed pride for the current success of Netflix series “Squid Game,” in which he has a small but key role. “As with the recognition for ‘Parasite’ last year, native sentiments are shared simultaneously throughout the world and regardless of language,” Lee said.

Having initially been held in Hong Kong in March, the Asian Film Awards are now jointly organized by the Hong Kong, Busan and Tokyo festival and take place in the autumn.


Asian Film Awards 2021 Winners

Best Film: “Wife of a Spy” dir: Kurosawa Kiyoshi
Best director: Zhang Yimou, for “One Second”
Best new director: Hong Eui-jeong for “Voice of Silence”
Best actor: Yoo Ah-in in “Voice of Silence”
Best actress: Aoi Yu in “Wife of a Spy”
Best supporting actor: Kim Hyun-bin for “The Silent Forest”
Best supporting actress: Makita Aju for “True Mothers”
Best screenplay: Chaitanya Tamhane for “The Disciple”
Best newcomer: Liu Haocun in “One Second”
Best editing: Li Yongyi for “Cliff Walkers”
Best visual effects: Tim Crosbie, Joy Wu for “The Eight Hundred”
Best cinematography: Masoud Amini Tirani for “The Wasteland”
Best costume design: Koketsu Haruki for “Wife of a Spy”
Best production design: Kenneth Mak for”Limbo”
Best original music: Day Tai for “The Way We Keep Dancing”
Best sound: Nopawat Likitwong for “Limbo”
Excellence in Asian cinema: Lee Byung Hun
Highest grossing Asian film of 2020: “Demon Slayer: The Movie – Mugen Train”.