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Asian Film Awards 2011: picking winners a tricky job

The Asian Film Awards, hosted in Hong Kong on the opening night of Filmart each year, often include a grab-bag of films unseen and barely known beyond their home countries.

This time around that bag is smaller, as Asian film had a pretty good year on the international stage in 2010. Several of the titles nominated will be familiar to festival-goers and attendees of Cinema Asia screenings here.

Last year Richard Taylor was a presenter at the AFA and Weta had worked on one of the nominated films, John Woo’s Red Cliff. This year, the only film with any local connection is Feng Xiaogang’s Aftershock on which Weta did some consultancy work on ways of recreating the 1973 earthquake.

There is no favourite to sweep the board this year. Two films share the most-nominated badge, each with a half-dozen nods: Japan’s Confessions (still in the running for a foreign language Oscar as of today) and China’s Let The Bullets Fly, which this week became the highest-grossing Chinese film, taking a record set less than six months ago by Aftershock.

All three of those titles will compete for Best Film, along with Poetry (Korea), Peepli Live (India) and Cannes Palme d’Or winner Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Thailand).

Looking around the region, India picked up four nominations, but all for the one film (Peepli Live), despite the country being the most prolific producer of films in Asia. Uncle Boonmee and Indonesia’s Madam X were the only South East Asian nominees. Kyrgyzstan snuck through the door with one nomination (in the Best Cinematography category) from the westernmost reaches of the continent.

Over 80% of the 72 nominations went to China/Hong Kong (24 nominations, including 18 for co-productions), Japan (18) and South Korea (17).

The nominations were announced the same day that the Rotterdam Festival announced its 2011 programme line-up. Four of the films nominated at the AFA will screen in Rotterdam: Love in a Puff, Poetry and 13 Assassins in the Spectrum section (world cinema); and John Woo’s Reign of Assassins in Signals: Water Tiger Inn, a section devoted to Chinese wuxia (martial arts) films.

The 13-strong jury is led this year by Chinese filmmaker Yonfan, and has gathered its members from across Asia and Europe including a couple of members from the Cannes and Berlin festivals.

In addition to the 14 awards decided by judges, the AFA will also present four special awards at the 20 March ceremony: for lifetime achievement; outstanding contribution to Asian cinema; promotion of Asian cinema; and 2010 top grossing film.

5TH ASIAN FILM AWARDS NOMINATION LIST

Best Film
Aftershock [China/HK]
Confessions [Japan]
Let the Bullets Fly [China/HK]
Peepli Live [India]
Poetry [South Korea]
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives [Thailand]

Best Director
Feng Xiaogang; Aftershock [China/HK]
Jiang Wen; Let the Bullets Fly [China/HK]
Lee Chang-dong; Poetry [South Korea]
Miike Takashi; Thirteen Assassins [Japan/UK]
Na Hong-jin; The Yellow Sea [South Korea]
Nakashima Tetsuya; Confessions [Japan]

Best Actor
Chow Yun-fat; Let the Bullets Fly [China/HK]
Ge You; Sacrifice [China]
Ha Jung-woo; The Yellow Sea [South Korea]
Ethan Ruan; Monga [Taiwan]
Yakusho Koji; Thirteen Assassins [Japan/UK]

Best Actress
Jeon Do-yeon; The Housemaid [South Korea]
Kikuchi Rinko; Norwegian Wood [Japan]
Matsu Takako; Confessions [Japan]
Xu Fan; Aftershock [China/HK]
Michelle Yeoh; Reign of Assassins [China/HK/Taiwan]

Best Newcomer
Mark Chao; Monga [Taiwan]
Aarif Lee; Echoes of the Rainbow [HK]
Omkar Das Manikpuri; Peepli Live [India]
T.O.P. (Choi Seung-hyun); 71 – Into the Fire [South Korea]
Zhou Dongyu; Under the Hawthorn Tree [China/HK]

Best Supporting Actor
Huang Xiaoming; Sacrifice [China]
Sammo Hung; Ip Man 2 [HK]
Okada Masaki; Confessions [Japan]
Ryu Seung-beom; The Unjust [South Korea]
Yu Hae-jin; Moss [South Korea]

Best Supporting Actress
Aoi Yu; About Her Brother [Japan]
Kimura Yoshino; Confessions [Japan]
Carina Lau; Let the Bullets Fly [China/HK]
Shanty Paredes; Madame X [Indonesia]
Yoon Yeo-jeong; The Housemaid [South Korea]

Best Screenwriter
Jiang Wen; Let the Bullets Fly [China/HK]
Pang Ho-cheung, Heiward Mak; Love in a Puff [HK]
Lee Chang-dong ; Poetry [South Korea]
Su Chao-pin; Reign of Assassins [China/HK/Taiwan]
Park Hoon-jung; The Unjust [South Korea]

Best Cinematographer
Lee Mogae; I Saw the Devil [South Korea]
Jake Pollock; Monga [Taiwan]
Mark Lee; Norwegian Wood [Japan]
Hassan Kydyraliyev; The Light Thief [Kyrgyzstan]
Kenny Tse; The Stool Pigeon [HK]

Best Production Designer
Hayashida Yuji; Thirteen Assassins [Japan/UK]
James CHOO; Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame [China/HK]
Eros Eflin; Madame X [Indonesia]
Max Huang, Chen Po-jen; Monga [Taiwan]
Lee Hwo-kyung; The Yellow Sea [South Korea]

Best Composer
Saito Kazuyoshi; Golden Slumber [Japan]
Sandee Chan; Monga [Taiwan]
Indian Ocean; Peepli Live [India]
Peter Kam; Reign of Assassins [China/HK/Taiwan]
Jang Young-kyu, Lee Byung-hoon; The Yellow Sea [South Korea]

Best Editor
Yamashita Kenji; Thirteen Assassins [Japan/UK]
Koike Yoshiyuki; Confessions [Japan]
Nam Na-young; I Saw the Devil [South Korea]
Hemanti Sarkar; Peepli Live [India]
Meng Peicong; Under the Hawthorn Tree [China/HK]

Best Visual Effects
Lee Hyuk, Park Eui-dong, Ryu Hee-jung; 71 – Into the Fire [South Korea]
Phil Jones; Aftershock [China/HK]
Phil Jones; Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame [China/HK]
Yamazaki Takashi; Space Battleship Yamato [Japan]
Park Jung-ryul; The Man from Nowhere [Japan]

Best Costume Designer
Sawataishi Kazuhiro; Thirteen Assassins [Japan/UK]
Bruce Yu; Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame [China/HK]
William Chang; Let the Bullets Fly [China/HK]
Yen Khe Luguern; Norwegian Wood [Japan]
Choi Se-yeon; The Housemaid [South Korea]

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