Controversy over indie movie's win at Hong Kong Film Awards

Port Of Call cast with their awards (from far left) Michael Ning, best supporting actor; Jessie Li, best actress; Elaine Jin, best supporting actress; and Aaron Kwok, best actor.
Port Of Call cast with their awards (from far left) Michael Ning, best supporting actor; Jessie Li, best actress; Elaine Jin, best supporting actress; and Aaron Kwok, best actor.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
On the red carpet...: Bare skin, feathers, and lace and sequins tussled for attention on Sunday’s red carpet, but (from far left) it was actress Janice Man’s barely-there Versus Versace dress that grabbed all the eyeballs. Carina Lau showed off l
On the red carpet...: Bare skin, feathers, and lace and sequins tussled for attention on Sunday’s red carpet, but (from far left) it was actress Janice Man’s barely-there Versus Versace dress that grabbed all the eyeballs. Carina Lau showed off leg in a feathery costume and Miriam Yeung went retro in an Elie Saab gown. Other actresses who showed off their fashion flair included Best Actress nominee Karena Lam and Ada Choi in an Escada outfit, appearing with husband, actor Max Zhang Jin.PHOTOS: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Ten Years, depicting a dark vision of Hong Kong in 2025, is named Best Film, but its win is described as a "misfortune" for the film world

HONG KONG • Sunday night's Best Film win by controversial movie Ten Years has drawn sharp criticism, with Hong Kong entertainment magnate Peter Lam calling it a "misfortune" for the Hong Kong film industry.

Ten Years, an indie movie which angered Beijing over its portrayal of the city's dystopian future under Chinese rule, won Best Film over commercial hits such as gongfu movie Ip Man 3, Tsui Hark's The Taking Of Tiger Mountain and crime thriller Port Of Call, which led with seven wins at Sunday's ceremony.

Thanking organisers Hong Kong Film Awards Association, Ten Years co-producer Andrew Choi admitted on stage that the HK$600,000 film (S$104,689) had fallen short in many areas in terms of its production. However, he said the win proved that the local film industry had a lot of possibilities.

 
 

Lam referred to this, telling reporters yesterday that he respected the decision of the association members, but said he did not agree with the result.

"I think Ten Years' win is a misfortune for the Hong Kong film world," said the chairman of Hong Kong film company Media Asia.

"You can see that Ten Years had no other nominations and is no blockbuster. That proves it has no attributes of a best film.

"To film-makers, its win is unfair. It is politics kidnapping the profession. It has politicised the film awards judging process."

Ten Years is a feature-length film comprising five short vignettes depicting a dark vision of the city in 2025. In one vignette, Mandarin replaces Cantonese as the dominant language. Scenes also include that of a protestor who self-immolates.

After China's state-controlled Global Times slammed the film as absurd and pessimistic, saying it was a "thought virus" in January, screenings in Hong Kong stopped.

Following the awards, Chinese media portals including Tencent and Sina omitted any mention of the film's win while reporting other results, reported Reuters.

Reports on NetEase focused on Aaron Kwok's first Best Actor win at the awards for Port Of Call. The film also won Best Actress for Jessie Li, New Performer and Supporting Actor for Michael Ning, Supporting Actress for Elaine Jin, Cinematography for Christopher Doyle as well as for Screenplay.

Tsui Hark took the Best Director prize and Shaw Brothers' movie queen Li Lihua, 91, was honoured with a lifetime achievement prize which was accepted on video by her daughter, who said the retired actress was in hospital.

Hong Kong Film Awards chairman and film-maker Derek Yee, who presented the Best Film prize, told Ming Pao Daily News that Ten Years' win was a surprise to him.

He told reporters that emotions played a part in the win. "It may not be up to the mark as a film, but the judges appreciated its courage and creativity and gave their support," he said.

He said "they have voted with their emotions", reported Oriental Daily, and added that if such a situation continued, it would harm the professional image of the awards.

He had said on stage that he was asked if the term "Ten Years" was allowed in the show's script. He said his reply was "(Former American) President Roosevelt said one thing: 'The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.'"

He had also hinted that he had to present the award himself as he could not find any presenters for the segment.

But later, he told reporters: "I only want to make films... If it becomes too politicised, I will quit. I personally am against religion and politics interfering with films."

He also said he was joking when he said on stage that he could not find presenters willing to give away the prize for Best Film.

• Ten Years will be shown at the Singapore Chinese Film Festival at the end of the month.


Winners

•Best Film: Ten Years

•Best Actor: Aaron Kwok (Port Of Call)

•Best Actress: Jessie Li (Port Of Call)

•Best Director: Tsui Hark (The Taking Of Tiger Mountain)

•Best Screenplay: Philip Yung Tsz Kwong (Port Of Call)

•Best Supporting Actor: Michael Ning (Port Of Call)

•Best Supporting Actress: Elaine Jin (Port Of Call)

•Best New Performer: Michael Ning (Port Of Call)

•Best Cinematography: Christopher Doyle (Port Of Call)

•Best Film Editing: Cheung Ka Fai (Ip Man 3)

•Best Art Direction: William Chang Suk Ping, Yau Wai Ming (Office)

•Best Costume and Make-Up Design: Yee Chung Man (Monster Hunt)

•Best Action Choreography: Li Chung Chi (SPL 2: A Time For Consequences)

•Best New Director: Raman Hui (Monster Hunt)

•Best Original Film Score: Dayu Lo, Chan Fai Young (Office)

•Best Original Film Song: We Almost Fly (She Remembers, He Forgets)

•Best Film from the Mainland and Taiwan: The Assassin

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2016, with the headline 'Controversy over indie movie's win at HK Film Awards'. Print Edition | Subscribe