After a 17-year directing hiatus, Hong Kong veteran filmmaker Patrick Tam was named best director for After This Our Exile which also won best film at the 26th Hong Kong Film Awards on Sunday night.

The Malaysia-set drama was the biggest winner with a total of five major prizes, including best screenplay for Tam and Tian Koi Leong and best supporting actor for nine-year-old Gouw Ian Iskandar who also walked away with best new performer.

The biggest surprise of the evening was probably Lau Ching Wan who beat the heavyweights including Aaron Kwok, Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Chow Yun Fat and Jet Li to become best actor, marking his first such award from the Hong Kong Film Awards despite multiple nominations in previous years. His award-winning role in My Name Is Fame is a lampoon of himself which sees him play an aging actor.

Best actress went to Gong Li for her role in Curse Of The Golden Flower. The period drama, which received the most nominations with 14 nods, won three technical awards including art direction, costume/make-up and original film song.

The Pang Brothers' horror Re-cycle scooped two technical awards - best visual effects and best sound design.

Among films that each won a single award were The Banquet (best supporting actress for Zhou Xun), Confession Of Pain (best cinematography), Battle Of Wits (best editing), Fearless (best action choreography) and Isabella (best original film score).

A special Century Achievement Award was presented to movie mogul Sir Run Run Shaw who celebrates his 100th birthday this year for his significant contribution to Hong Kong cinema and TV.

The sequence of the awards presentation was as follows:

Best New Director

Daniel Wu (The Heavenly Kings)

Best New Performer

Gouw Ian Iskandar (After This Our Exile)

Best Cinematography

Andrew Lau, Lai Yiu Fai (Confession Of Pain)

Best Editing

Eric Kong (Battle Of Wits)

Best Screenplay

Patrick Tam, Tian Koi Leong (After This Our Exile)

Best Visual Effects

Ng Yuen Fai, Chas Chau Chi Shing, Emil Yee Kwok Leung, Alex Lim Hung Fung (Re-cycle)

Best Sound Design

Nakom Kositpaisal (Re-cycle)

Best Action Choreography

Yuen Wo Ping (Fearless)

Best Art Direction

Huo Tingxiao (Curse Of The Golden Flower)

Best Costume & Make Up Design

Yee Chung Man (Curse Of The Golden Flower)

Best Original Film Score

Peter Kam (Isabella)

Best Original Film Song

Ju Hua Tai (Curse Of The Golden Flower)

Composer: Jay Chou

Lyric: Vincent Fang Wen Shan

Sung by: Jay Chou

Best Asian Film

Riding Alone For Thousands Of Miles (China)

Best Supporting Actress

Zhou Xun (The Banquet)

Best Supporting Actor

Gouw Ian Iskandar (After This Our Exile)

Best Actress

Gong Li (Curse Of The Golden Flower)

Best Director

Patrick Tam (After This Our Exile)

Best Actor

Lau Ching Wan (My Name Is Fame)

Best Film

After This Our Exile