Hong Kong Chooses Ann Hui's 'A Simple Life' for Oscar Foreign Language Submission

9:33 PM PST 09/22/2011 by Karen Chu

The film features a Venice Best Actress-winning performance by Deanie Ip.

HONG KONG – Director Ann Hui’s award-winning drama A Simple Life is selected to represent Hong Kong as the candidate for the 84th Academy Awards best foreign-language film, the Federation of Motion Film Producers announced on Thursday.

Female lead Deanie Ip, who plays a domestic helper that has worked for the same family for more than half a century and raised the character played by Andy Lau, was named the Best Actress at the 67th Venice International Film Festival, where A Simple Life premiered earlier this month. The film, based on the true experiences of its producer Roger Lee, and backed by China’s Poly Bona and Andy Lau’s Focus Films, also took home various accolades in Italy in recognition of its theme of equality.

The Federation selected the drama as the Oscar foreign-language film race contender from Hong Kong with a unanimous vote from its 11 board members, the Federation’s chairman Crucindo Hung told The Hollywood Reporter. The Peter Chan-directed Wu Xia, and Overheard 2 from writers-directors Alan Mak and Felix Chong, were also on the shortlist.

Hung said the Federation chose A Simple Life, which he called “a film by a remarkable director showcasing an unsurpassed performance from an extraordinary actress,” for its distinctive Hong Kong character in the portrayal of the intimate relationship and emotional bond between live-in domestic helpers and their employers that is part of the home life of many Hong Kong people.

The Federation has high hopes for the film to receive a nomination from the Academy, 11 years after the first and only Hong Kong film was in contention in the foreign language film race since Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon was nominated and won the award.

“The Hong Kong film industry is mostly driven by commercial films, so perhaps our past selections didn’t appeal to the taste of the Academy. But with a film like A Simple Life, which has artistic merit and reflects Hong Kong society, we hope we have a better chance this year,” Hung said.

Although the film was selected as the Hong Kong candidate in the Oscar race of the year 2011, it is set for wide release in the territory in March 2012. The distributor has scheduled five daily screenings in one cinema of two-dozen seats that has begun on Tuesday for a week, a move met with criticism locally.

“We are meeting the terms of the Academy guidelines, which said the selection has to be the selection has to be shown domestically for one week,” said Hung. “Our main concern as the selection committee is to that the film satisfy the competition criteria. We really don’t care what the critics say.”

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