MACAO (AFP) - Chinese cinema's leading lights dominated the winners' podium at the star-studded Asian Film Awards on Wednesday, with local stars scooping three of the four top prizes in the glitzy gambling hub of Macau.
The Golden Era, a biopic of an acclaimed Chinese writer directed by Hong Kong's Ann Hui, earned her the Best Director award, while the Best Movie gong went to Blind Massage from controversial director Lou Ye, a story based on the little-known industry in China that featured blind amateur actors.
Continuing China's run of luck, the prize for Best Actor went to rising local star Liao Fan, who bagged the award for his role in cop thriller Black Coal, Thin Ice.
Liao, who made his fame by winning the top acting award at the Berlin International Festival last year, said he was delighted to have won.
"I used my instincts to act. I will keep trying new roles," he told reporters at the backstage after receiving the award.
Hui, whose movie also had the most nominations with five, said she was "very happy" with the director's award.
She jokingly said she wanted to "donate" half of the trophy to the movie's crew for their key role in making it a success.
The awards, organised by the Hong Kong International Film Festival and now in their ninth year, were held at Macau's luxurious Venetian resort, and are aimed at celebrating the region's finest cinematic talents.
In a surprise win, South Korea's Bae Doona took the Best Actress award for her portrayal of a police officer struggling in her male-dominated workplace after moving to a remote seaside town in A Girl At My Door.
She beat out Chinese favourites Gong Li, Zhao Wei and Tang Wei for the award, telling journalists: "I didn't expect this... I am very happy," and adding she hoped to act in movies "beyond boundaries".
Satirical movie Gone With The Bullets, set in 1920s Shanghai, won the most gongs, including Best Visual Effects, Best Production Designer, and Best Costume Design.
Im Kwon-taek, the 78-year-old veteran director of Painted Fire, was given a Lifetime Achievement Award for his transformational role in Korean cinema, while the Best Newcomer award went to Zhang Huiwen, who played the daughter of a man sent to a labour camp during the Cultural Revolution in Coming Home.
This year's awards were handed to a diverse list of countries, including Indonesia's The Raid 2: Berandal, which saw Gareth Evans winning the Best Editor award, and India, where Mikey McCleary won Best Composer for Margarita, With A Straw.
Earlier, fans packed a hall of a resort normally full of gamblers, screaming as their screen idols strutted the red carpet. The crowd went wild for several Korean celebrities including actor/singer Do Kyung-soo, who would later miss out on the Best Newcomer award, and boyband Infinite, who performed at the show.
Korea's brand of "K-pop" and its distinctive television dramas are ever more popular in the region, the latter driven by romantic plotlines and characters whose actors have become celebrities in their own right.
LIST OF WINNERS:
Best Movie: Blind Massage/China
Best Director: Ann Hui (The Golden Era)/Hong Kong
Best Actor: Liao Fan (Black Coal, Thin Ice)/China
Best Actress: Bae Doona (A Girl At My Door)/South Korea
Best Newcomer: Zhang Huiwen (Coming Home)/China
Best Supporting Actor: Wang Zhiwen (The Golden Era)/Hong Kong
Best Supporting Actress: Ikewaki Chizuru (The Light Shines Only There)/Japan
Best Screenwriter: Diao Yinan (Black Coal, Thin Ice)/China
Best Cinematographer: Zeng Jian (Blind Massage)/China
Best Editor: Gareth Evans (The Raid 2: Berandal)/Indonesia
Best Composer: Mikey McCleary (Margarita, With A Straw)/India
Best Visual Effects: Rick Sander, Christoph Zollinger (Gone With The Bullets)/China
Best Production Designer: Liu Qing (Gone With The Bullets)/China
Best Costume Designer: William Chang Suk-ping (Gone With The Bullets)/China