March 20, 2007 / 3:33 PM / 12 years ago

Koreans win big at HK's first pan-Asian film awards

HONG KONG (Reuters) - South Korean horror film “The Host” picked up four awards, including best picture, at Hong Kong’s inaugural Asian film awards on Tuesday night in a glitzy ceremony aimed at recognizing the region’s nascent film talent.

South Korean actor Song Kang-ho poses with his trophy after winning the best actor award at the Asian Film Awards, a part of the Entertainment Expo Hong Kong, in Hong Kong March 20, 2007. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

Stars from across Asia, including Iran, South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia and China arrived by limo to tread the red carpet in tuxedos and dazzling gowns for a ceremony, partly inspired by Hollywood, at Hong Kong’s harbor-side convention center.

French director Luc Besson, actress Michelle Yeoh, Hong Kong stars Tony Leung and Andy Lau, South Korean star Rain and director Park Chan-wook were among those who attended.

“The Host” — a dark, thriller-cum-horror movie about a mutant squid-like monster and suffused with an undercurrent of anti-Americanism — picked up awards for best picture, best actor, best cinematographer and best visual effects.

“(The film is) not only about anti-Americanism but about problems in Korea, for example asking for help from the police who don’t return any help,” said executive producer Choi Yong-bae, who received the white marble and twisted metal statuette for best film.

The film’s Song Kang-ho picked up the best actor prize.

The best director prize went to critically acclaimed Chinese director Jia Zhangke for his Venice prize-winning film “Still Life” about the devastating social impact of the Three Gorges Dam on a small Sichuan town in China.

Japanese actress Miki Nakatani won best actress for “Memories of Matsuko”, whilst other awards went to film talent from a spread of Asian countries, including Iran’s Mani Haghighi for best screenwriter, Thailand’s Lee Chatametikool for best editor and Indonesia’s Rahayu Supanggah for best composer.

“It’s almost strange that it’s the first ceremony,” said Besson of the inaugural award’s self-stated aim of recognizing Asian cinematic brilliance.

“Good films come from everywhere, artists are like mushrooms, a little sun, a little water and they grow, they don’t need passports, visas to create,” he added of Asian cinema’s growing international reputation.

An “outstanding contribution to Asian cinema” award was given to 60-year-old Hong Kong screen siren Josephine Siao Fong-fong, a former child star who blossomed as a cinema actress for close to five decades.

American film academic David Bordwell, who has written extensively on Asian cinema, received a similar award.

The inaugural awards kickstarted the Hong Kong International Film festival.

“If you look at the world today, it’s mainly dominated by the Oscars in the U.S. and other film festivals in Europe,” said Wilfred Wong, the festival chairman. “We are definitely following in the footsteps of what the Oscar’s is doing.”

The film festival, which runs until April 11, will show about 300 films, including 16 world premieres.

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