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The Asian Film Awards (AFA) appear to have a relatively level playing field this year.
Fantasy mystery Legend of the Demon Cat leads the way with six nominations, followed by three films with five noms each out of a total 89 in 17 categories. All four frontrunners are from China or are Chinese co-productions. Youth, Angels Wear White and Love Education garner nominations in five categories.
The nominations for Chen Kaige’s Legend of the Demon Cat are mostly in technical categories, including best visual effects, production design, costume design and cinematography. Chen is nominated for best director, and Kitty Zhang’s performance in the film earns her a best supporting actress nomination.
Youth, last year’s AFA winner Feng Xiaogang’s controversial period piece set during the Cultural Revolution, nabs a best director nomination for the helmer and also competes in the best film category.
Angels Wear White, by Vivian Qu, was nominated for best new director and best film.
Sylvia Chang’s Love Education is nominated for best director, best actress, best screenplay (all Chang), best supporting actress Estelle Wu and best supporting actor for the acting debut of director Tian Zhuangzhuang, as the husband of Chang’s character.
Chinese films dominate not only in the number of nods a film received but also in the total number of nominations. The films the country produced or co-produced receive 36 nominations. The territory that follows is Hong Kong, with only half that number of nominations. In total, 32 films from 10 countries and territories are nominated.
The awards added two new categories, namely, best new director and best action film, and will celebrate martial arts films in Asian cinema.
The jury this year is headed by renowned martial arts coordinator and film director Ching Siu-tung, who has won best action choreography at the Hong Kong Film Awards and Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards numerous times and was the chief action choreographer at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Actress Carina Lau serves as the celebrity juror.
The awards ceremony will be held on March 17 and will return to the Venetian Theatre of The Venetian Macao, which hosted the ceremony in previous years.
Nominations in Major Categories:
Angels Wear White (China, France)
The Day After (South Korea)
The Third Murder (Japan)
Chen Kaige, Legend of the Demon Cat
Sylvia Chang, Love Education
Ann Hui, Our Time Will Come
Hong Sang-soo, The Day After
Ishii Yuya, The Tokyo Night Sky is Always the Densest Shade of Blue
Feng Xiaogang, Youth
Kim Yun-seok, 1987: When the Day Comes
Sukollawat Kanarot, Malila: The Farewell Flower
Rajkummar Rao, Newton
Louis Koo, Paradox
Duan Yihong, The Looming Storm
Aoi Yu, Birds Without Names
Sylvia Chang, Love Education
Marsha Timothy, Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts
Kim Min-hee, The Day After
Zhou Dongyu, This Is Not What I Expected
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