Japan Shines at Asian Film Awards

HONG KONG ~ Japan dominated the Asian Film Awards this year, grabbing top prizes including best picture, best director and best actor, event organizers announced.

Tokyo Sonata, a portrait of the breakdown of a seemingly normal Japanese family, won the award for best film.

Its director, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, known for his thrillers and suspense movies, said he believed Tokyo Sonata appealed to audiences across the region because it captured the dark side of human nature.

“The story is about ordinary people living in Japan. However, it captured the social problems that confront not only Japanese people today but also people outside Japan,” Kurosawa, who also won the best screenwriter award for the film, said.

Hirokazu Koreeda beat action film director John Woo and Japanese animation king Hayao Miyazaki by winning the best director award for Still Walking, about a family commemorating the drowning of one of its members.

After the ceremony on Monday, Koreeda said people should not categorize the awards by the films’ country of origin and that there should be more collaboration between the region’s filmmakers.

“I don’t count the awards like the way people count the gold medals at the Olympics Games, by looking at the country the athletes belong to. I think we should elevate the status of Asian films as a collective whole,” he said.

The Japanese director said his next film would be a joint project with Taiwanese cinematographers and Korean actors, but did not disclose further details.

Japan’s Masahiro Motoki won the best actor award for his role in Departures, the best foreign language film at this year’s Oscars. Motoki plays a cellist who works in a funeral business after his orchestra is dissolved.

Acclaimed mainland Chinese actress Zhou Xun, who has won numerous film awards, was teary-eyed as she grabbed the best actress honors for The Equation of Love and Death.

Jung Woo-sung was crowned best supporting actor for South Korean smash hit The Good, the Bad, the Weird.

Best supporting actress went to Gina Pareno, for her role in the Philippine movie Service.

Mainland China’s Yu Shaoqun was named best newcomer, an award category introduced this year, for the Chinese film Forever Enthralled.

The Asian Film Festival, held annually since 2007, is aimed at showcasing the region’s movie talent and was dominated by South Korean entries in its first two years.

Thirty-six films from 11 territories in Asia vied for 13 prizes this year.

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