Asian Film Awards 2023 Sammo Hung

Source: Asian Film Awards Academy

Sammo Hung at Asian Film Awards 2023

The Asian Film Awards is returning for its 17th edition on Sunday (March 10), presented by the Asian Films Awards Academy (AFAA), a non-profit organisation founded by Busan, Hong Kong and Tokyo International Film Festivals,

Fuelled by the shared goal of celebrating excellence in Asian cinema and promoting and heralding Asian films and talent, the awards are the jewel in the crown of AFAA’s year-round activities.

“We are proud to be recognised by Asian filmmakers as a valuable platform for them to showcase their works,” says AFAA executive director Josie Lin. “The submissions we received this year included new works produced in Iran, Bangladesh, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, Myanmar and many more different Asian regions.”

The diversity in countries of origin for the films submitted to AFAA reflects the growing strength and increasing diversity in Asian cinema. Submissions include films from territories outside the traditional Asian production powerhouse triumvirate of Hong Kong (China), Japan and South Korea.

The Academy’s 200+ membership have voted to shortlist 35 films from 24 countries and regions in 16 categories. The winners will be decided by a jury led for the first time by a Japanese auteur: Kiyoshi Kurosawa, whose credits include Wife Of A Spy, for which he won the Silver Lion for best director at Venice Film Festival in 2020.

“Japanese cinema has always taken centre stage in the development of Asian cinema,” notes Lin of Kurosawa’s involvement. “Throughout the years, Japanese filmmakers have been keen to bring countless remarkable works that combine creativity, unique cultures and traditions.”

Kurosawa and filmmaker Fruit Chan will come together for an In Conversation showcase at the Hong Kong Design Institute ahead of the awards evening as part of the AFAA’s activities.

Honorary prizes include a lifetime achievement award for Chinese director Zhang Yimou, the acclaimed filmmaker of House Of Flying Daggers and more recently box office smash Full River Red, for which he will also receive the 2023 Highest-Grossing Asian Film Award.

Two honorary awards celebrating excellence in Asian cinema will also be presented to Korean actress Lee Young-ae, known for her roles in Park Chan-wook’s Joint Security Area and Lady Vengeance, and Japanese actor Ryohei Suzuki, a Screen International Rising Star Asia award winner, known for Daishi Matsunaga’s LGBTQ+ romance drama Egoist and Netflix’s upcoming manga adaptation City Hunter.

Chinese actress Zhao Liying, best known for her role in Yimou’s recent box office hit Article 20, will receive an AFA next generation honour while this year’s rising star award is being presented to Thai actor and model Metawin Opas-iamkajorn, known widely as Win. The first Thai rising star to date, Win will be on hand for the world premiere of Under Parallel Skies alongside lead actress Janella Salvador, the film’s executive producer Richard Juan and director Sigrid Bernardo.

“It has always been one of our focuses to celebrate diversity, be it through the AFA and events around it, or the year-round initiatives organised by the AFA Academy,” Lin says.

In conversation

On March 8 and 9, AFAA will host several in conversation events with more than 20 Asian filmmakers and crew members from cinematographers, editors, production and costume designers alongside actors and directors in line to participate. They will include Taiwanese singer, actress and radio DJ Lin Wan Fang, Hong Kong actresses Rachel Leung and Yoyo Tse, Mongolian rising star Tergel Bold-Erdene, emerging Thai actor Awat Ratanapintha and young Japanese actress Mihaya Shirata.

In addition to AFAA’s signature Asian Cinerama programme, which presents award-winning directors, composers and screenwriters in Q&A sessions, the Academy will host a series of panel discussions featuring nominees in its technical award categories. Oscar-winning production designer Tim Yip, production and costume designers Eric Lam, Lim Chung Man and Keiko Mitsumatsu are among the names scheduled to share their film production tales.

One high-profile panel conversation with nominees will comprise emerging filmmakers Nick Cheuk (Time Still Turns The Pages), Lkhagvadulam Purev-Ochir (City Of Wind) and Dominic Sangma (Rapture).

The awards take place the day before the opening of Hong Kong Filmart, a leading film and TV market in Asia, which runs March 11-14.

Lin notes an uptick in international co-productions among the nominees, which has opened up funding sources for Asian filmmakers outside the usual local or regional routes.

“International co-productions increase sales opportunities in countries involved in the production,” Lin adds. “Such projects often blend cultures and traditions from different regions, which bring a fresh and alluring exotic taste of cinema, enriching global cinema as a whole.”