Berlin: Feng Xiaogang's 'Youth' Takes Top Honors at Asian Brilliant Stars Awards

Youth Still 1 - Publicity - H 2017
Courtesy of Huayi Brothers Pictures

The pan-Asian industry platform, now in its second year, also honored Israeli filmmaker Samuel Maoz for his Oscar-nominated drama 'Foxtrot.'

The second annual Asian Brilliant Stars Awards unveiled its winners Thursday at a red-carpet gala dinner during the Berlin International Film Festival. Modeled after the long-standing European Shooting Stars talent platform, the event seeks to bring greater attention to established and emerging Asian actors, directors, producers and screenwriters.

Chinese coming-of-age period drama Youth, from Asian industry mainstay Feng Xiaogang, was the event's big winner, taking home the Special Jury Award for Xiaogang, Best Screenwriter Award for Yan Geling and Asian New Talent Award for Zhong Chuxi, the film's leading actress.

This year's jury was composed of controversial South Korean filmmaker Kim Ki Duk, Iranian actor Babak Karimi, former president of Hong Kong Film Award Mandfred Wong, prolific Japanese producer Shozo Ichiyama, German actor Moritz Bleibtreu and Chinese director Cao Baoping.

Kim was also in Berlin this week for the world premiere of his latest edgy art house work Human, Space, Time and Human, which screened in the fest's Panorama section. The director's inclusion in the program, as well as on the Asia Brilliant Stars jury, was a source of ongoing controversy during the German events due to allegations that he assaulted an actress on the set of one of his films — an incident he addressed at length during a press conference on Saturday. 

"The Asian Brilliant Stars gives us Asian filmmakers the opportunity to know each other and exchange," said Xiaogang during the Asian Brilliant Stars gala. "I like Kim Ki Duk’s films very much but didn’t have the chance to meet with him until today. The Asian Brilliant Stars has opened a dialogue — this dialogue will continue.”

Added Kim: "What the Asian Brilliant Stars adds is an Asian perspective to the film selection, and a stronger voice to Asian filmmakers."

The event's Best Director Award went to Israeli filmmaker Samuel Maoz for Foxtrot, Israel's entry for the best foreign-language film Oscar this year.

Thailand's Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying won the Best Actress Award for her performance in the breakout hit Bad Genius, a high school thriller that earned nearly $50 million worldwide last year. Chutimon also stars in Die Tomorrow, an anthology film from Thai director Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit screening in Berlin's Forum section.

Taiwanese talent Chang Chen took the event's Best Actor Award for his starring role in the period martial-arts flick Brotherhood of Blades 2. And China's Zhang Yang won the Best Producer Award for his work on Paths of the Soul, a documentary about 11 Tibetan villagers making a grueling seven-month, 1,200-mile pilgrimage. 

“The Asian Brilliant Stars is not only an awards ceremony, but a platform to promote Asian Films and create a bridge between Asia and the world," said Richard Shen, secretary general of Asian Film & Television Promotion, one of the organizers. "If Asian culture wants to gain influence in tomorrow’s world, it also needs an internal dialogue.”