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Asian Film Awards 2013: nominations spread the love around region

The Hong Kong-based AFA announced nominees across its 14 categories Wednesday evening NZ time.

While it’s almost illegal these days to programme a festival or awards bash without an Iranian film (and the AFA doesn’t break that rule), Iraqi Kurdistan isn’t often featured in such announcements. Here it has a day in the sun, with Bahman Ghobadi’s Rhino Season picking up four nominations.

Doing the announcement honours were the HK Film Festival’s Chair and Executive Director, Messrs Wilfred Wong and Roger Garcia, with support from local producers Raymond Chow and Nansun Shi, plus distributors Golden Scene’s Winnie Tsang and Fortissimo’s Michael Werner.

Local starpower was provided by the winner of last year’s AFA People’s Choice Actor, Andy Lau, who was himself announced as this year’s jury president.

The 70 nominee slots across the AFA’s 14 categories were filled by 30 films from nine territories. Over half the films nominated will compete in multiple categories.

South Korea now leads the way with 16 nominations, and is the only country with a nomination in all 14 categories. Japan has 13. Both countries will hope those will deliver an improvement on the big fat zero they converted to gongs at 2012’s AFA. Hosts Hong Kong already know they’re looking at a quiet night, with two solo nominations and a half share of two more for co-productions with mainland China.

Six of the Korean nominations are for one title, Jong-bin Yun’s Nameless Gangster. Korea’s most popular film last year, The Thieves, picks up four nods along with the distinction of being the only film to compete with itself, having secured two nods in the Supporting Actress category.

Nameless Gangster shares the most nods for a single title with LOU Ye’s Mystery, although only the latter is nominated for Best Film and Best Director (despite LOU having removed his name from the film after Chinese censors imposed cuts on the film).

Four of the five films nominated for Best Film are also nominated for Best Director. Abbas Kiarostami (Like Someone In Love) nudges out Johnnie To (Drug War) in the Director nominations.

In the 2012 line-up, Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation was a safe bet once nominations were announced. It had added an Oscar by the time the AFA took place and took four wins from five nods.

This year there is no clear favourite among the nominees for either Best Picture or Director, although another Korean film, Kim Ki-Duk’s Pieta, has probably received the most recognition internationally to date. It took four awards at Venice including the Golden Lion and has three nods here, including for Best Film and Director.

In addition to the juried awards, the AFA presents vox pop Actor and Actress Awards and a number of special presentations, the awardees named ahead of the ceremony. The New Talent and Lifetime Achievement Awards neatly bookend career arcs, although the AFA – in its seventh edition in 2013 – is far too young to have yet had to consider the same person for both awards.

The final non-juried award is for the Highest-Grossing Asian Film. Given the rapid growth in screens in mainland China, limited access for foreign films and the fact that the country has now overtaken Japan in overall box office earnings, the odds are stacked heavily in favour of a mainland title taking the gong.

Last year Wen Jiang’s Let the Bullets Fly duly obliged. Although the official announcement has yet to be made, this year’s winner is confidently expected to be XU Zheng’s road comedy Lost in Thailand which has taken US$144 million and was still on release at the end of 2012.

Japan’s best earner was Umizaru 4 with US$91.3 million. while Korea’s The Thieves (which also became that country’s highest-grossing film of all time), took US$82.5 million. No other country in Asia had a local film earn over US$10 million.

The Asian Film Awards holds its ceremony Monday 18 March in Hong Kong as part of the territory’s Entertainment Expo.

The nominees for the 7th Asian Film Awards are:

Best Film
Drug War, Mainland China
Gangs Of Wasseypur Part 1 & 2, India
Mystery, Mainland China
Outrage Beyond, Japan
Pieta, South Korea

Best Director
Anurag Kashyap, Gangs Of Wasseypur Part 1 & 2, India
Abbas Kiarostami, Like Someone In Love, Japan / France / Iran
Kim Ki-Duk, Pieta, South Korea
Kitano Takeshi, Outrage Beyond, Japan
Lou Ye, Mystery, Mainland China

Best Actor
Joseph Chang, Gf*Bf, Taiwan
Choi Min-Sik, Nameless Gangster: Rules Of The Time, South Korea
Eddie Garcia, Bwakaw, The Philippines
Tony Leung Ka Fai, Cold War, Hong Kong
Liu Ye, The Last Supper, Mainland China

Best Actress
Nora Aunor, Thy Womb, The Philippines
Cho Min-Soo, Pieta, South Korea
Golshifteh Farahani, The Patience Stone, Afghanistan
Gwei Lun-Mei, Gf*Bf, Taiwan
Hao Lei, Mystery, Mainland China

Best Newcomer
Chien Man-Shu, When A Wolf Falls In Love With A Sheep, Taiwan
Higashide Masahiro, The Kirishima Thing, Japan
Huang Yu-Siang, Touch Of The Light, Taiwan
Kim Sung-Kyun, Nameless Gangster: Rules Of The Time, South Korea
Qi Xi, Mystery, Mainland China

Best Supporting Actor
Ha Jung-Woo, Nameless Gangster: Rules Of The Time, South Korea
Kase Ryo, Like Someone In Love, Japan / France / Iran
Nawazuddin Siddiqui, The Answer Lies Within, India
Chapman To, Diva, Hong Kong
Rhydian Vaughan, Gf*Bf, Taiwan

Best Supporting Actress
Jun Ji-Hyun, The Thieves, South Korea
Kim Hye-Soo, The Thieves, South Korea
Li Lieh, Together, Taiwan
Qin Lan, The Last Supper, Mainland China
Watanabe Makiko, Capturing Dad, Japan

Best Screenwriter
Anand Gandhi, Ship Of Theseus, India
Kiyasu Kohei & Yoshida Daihachi, The Kirishima Thing, Japan
Mei Feng, Yu Fan & Lou Ye, Mystery, Mainland China
Wai Ka-Fai, Yau Nai-Hoi, Ryker Chan & Yu Xi, Drug War, Mainland China
Yun Jong-Bin, Nameless Gangster: Rules Of The Time, South Korea

Best Cinematographer
Touraj Aslani, Rhino Season, Iraqi Kurdistan / Turkey
Choi Young-Hwan, The Thieves, South Korea
Rajeev Ravi, Gangs Of Wasseypur Part 1 & 2, India
Yanagijima Katsumi, Like Someone In Love, Japan / France / Iran
Zhang Li & Ma Cheng, The Last Supper, Mainland China

Best Production Designer
Cho Hwa-Sung, Nameless Gangster: Rules Of The Time, South Korea
Bahman Ghobadi & Ali Daryai, Rhino Season, Iraqi Kurdistan / Turkey
Wasiq Khan, Gangs Of Wasseypur Part 1 & 2, India
Man Lim-Chung, The Silent War, Mainland China / Hong Kong
Yee Chung-Man & Eric Lam Chi-Kiu, The Last Tycoon, Mainland China / Hong Kong

Best Composer
Pritam Chakraborty, Barfi!, India
Jo Yeong-Wook, Nameless Gangster: Rules Of The Time, South Korea
Peyman Yazdanian & Johann Johannsson, Mystery, Mainland China
Suzuki Keiichi, Outrage Beyond, Japan
Ueno Koji, The Floating Castle, Japan

Best Editor
Kitano Takeshi & Ohta Yoshinori, Outrage Beyond, Japan
Kusakabe Mototaka, The Kirishima Thing, Japan
Valerie Loiseleux, Rhino Season, Iraqi Kurdistan / Turkey
David Richardson & Allen Leung, Drug War, Mainland China
Shin Min-Kyung, The Thieves, South Korea

Best Visual Effects
Chas Chau, Lewis Chan, Benson Poon & Johnny Lin, When A Wolf Falls In Love With A Sheep, Taiwan
Kwak Tae-Yong, Hwang Hyokyun & Lim Jung-Hoon, Doomsday Book, South Korea
Farbod Khoshtinat, Rhino Season, Iraqi Kurdistan / Turkey
Lee In-Ho & Je Young-Ho, Soar Into The Sun, South Korea
Onoue Katsuro, Oya Tetsuo, Sato Atsuki & Tsujino Minami, The Floating Castle, Japan

Best Costume Designer
Chen Xue-Bing & Zhong Jia-Ni, The Last Supper, Mainland China
Jessie Dai Mei-Ling & Chan Chi-Man, The Last Tycoon, Mainland China / Hong Kong
Kwak Jung-Ae, A Werewolf Boy, South Korea
Man Lim-Chung, The Silent War, Mainland China / Hong Kong
Otsuka Mitsuru, Matsunaga Kazuta & Inamura Akihiko, The Floating Castle, Japan

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