“Anita,” the biopic of the late Canto-pop queen Anita Mui, led the race of the 40th Hong Kong Film Awards on Sunday night with five awards, including recognitions for the film’s actors and technical achievements. But the best film and best director awards went to action thriller “Raging Fire” directed by the late Benny Chan.
Sunday’s event, which was postponed from its original schedule in April, was the first in-person edition of the awards ceremony after two years of COVID hiatus — the 2020 edition was held online and 2021 was suspended.
The number of films released in Hong Kong has dramatically dropped over the past years as cinemas were forced to close doors for prolonged periods under the government’s COVID measures. As a result, this year’s event was a double edition taking in films released in both 2020 and 2021.
As the first Hong Kong Film Awards ceremony held in the post-National Security Law era and the industry’s struggle during the pandemic, there was no lack of heartwarming and thoughtful messages offering encouragement and wishing perseverance to industry practitioners and creatives. “Even if we cry, we have to cry with a smile,” said veteran comedian Michael Hui, who received a lifetime achievement award.
Another thread that ran through the awards ceremony was to hail the importance of Hong Kong as a hub that continues to welcome talent from different parts of the world. Malaysian actress Fish Liew thanked Hong Kong for realizing her dreams when she won best supporting actress with her role in “Anita.” Louise Wong, who plays the film’s title role, was awarded best new performer. The film also won best costume and makeup design, beating the late Wada Emi for her work in Ann Hui’s “Love After Love.” Renowned Japanese musician Sakamoto Ryuichi was presented the best original film score for “Love After Love.”
Mainland actress Cya Liu was named best actress for her role as a young addict in Cantonese film noir “Limbo,” just months after she won the same title at the annual Hong Kong Film Critics’ Society Awards. The film also won best screenplay penned by Au Kin Yee and Shum Kwan Sin, as well as best art direction and best cinematography.
Veteran actor Patrick Tse, 85, won best actor as expected with his acclaimed role as a retired hitman in black comedy “Time.” Tse, who already received a lifetime achievement award in 2019, was greeted with a standing ovation when he accepted the award on stage, accompanied by Lam Ka-tung, who had two chances in the best actor category with roles in “Hand Rolled Cigarette” and “Limbo.”
Actor-producer Andy Lau presented the best director award to the late Benny Chan for “Raging Fire.” He read out a thank you note from Chan’s wife, saying that the award has completed Chan’s life. “He [Chan] would be responding to your applause with a smile from afar,” Lau said. “Raging Fire” also won best action choreography and best film editing.
Prior to the actual beginning of the night’s event, organizers held a short ceremony presenting awards to winners of the 39th edition, which took place only online. Upon picking up the best director award for drama “Better Days,” Derek Tsang responded to criticisms against the film on whether it is a Hong Kong or mainland Chinese production. “People question if this is a Hong Kong film. I learned everything from Hong Kong cinema, and the spirit of Hong Kong films live in what I do,” he said on stage.
Full List of the 40th Hong Kong Film Awards winners:
Best Film — “Raging Fire” (Presented by Emperor Film Production Company Limited, Tencent Pictures Culture Media Company Limited, Sil-Metropole Organization Limited. Produced by Benny Chan, Donnie Yen)
Best Actor — Patrick Tse (“Time”)
Best Director — Benny Chan (“Raging Fire”)
Best Actress — Cya Liu (“Limbo”)
Best Asian Chinese Language Film — “American Girl”
Best Screenplay — Au Kin Yee, Shum Kwan Sin (“Limbo”)
Best Action Choreography — Donnie Yen, Ku Huen Chiu, Tanigaki Kenji, Li Chung Chi (“Raging Fire”)
Best Supporting Actor — Fung Ho Yeung (“Zero To Hero”)
Best Sound Design — Tu Duu-Chih, Wu Shu-Yao (“Anita”)
Best Visual Effects — Yee Kwok Leung, Garrett K Lam, Raymond Leung Wai Man, Hung Man Shi Candy (“Anita”)
Best Film Editing — Curran Pang (“Raging Fire”)
Best Costume & Makeup Design — Dora Ng, Karen Yip (“Anita”)
Best Art Direction — Kenneth Mak, Renee Wong (“Limbo”)
Best Original Film Score — Ryuichi Sakamoto (“Love After Love”)
Best Original Film Song — Origin of Time (“One Second Champion”)
Best Supporting Actress — Fish Liew (“Anita”)
Best Cinematography — Cheng Siu Keung (“Limbo”)
Best New Director — Kin Long Chan (“Hand Rolled Cigarette”)
Best New Performer — Louise Wong (“Anita”)
Lifetime Achievement Award — Michael Hui Koon-man
Professional Achievement Award — Tony Chow Kwok-chung.