'Bullets,' 'Confessions' Lead Asian Film Awards Nominations

Blockbusters rule the roost as China and Japan both garner 17 total nods.

HONG KONG – Blockbusters rule the 5th Asian Film Awards as China’s current smash Let the Bullets Fly and Japan’s 2010 summer hit Confessions lead the pack with six nominations each. By country, China and Japan also split the field, amassing 17 nods each, with South Korea follows with 13 nominations.

The two leading contenders will compete against each other in the best film category, along with China’s Aftershock, India’s Peepli Live, South Korea’s Poetry, and Thailand’s Uncle Boonmee who can Recall His Past Lives

Hit-maker Feng Xiaogang’s historical epic Aftershock received nominations in four categories, including best director, in which he will run against Bullets Jiang Wen, Confessions Nakashima Tetsuya, as well as Poetry’s Lee Chang-dong, Takashi Miike of Japan’s 13 Assassins, and Na Hong-jin of South Korea’s The Yellow Sea.

Organized by the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society and chosen by a 12-member jury headed by award-winning director Yonfan, the awards in 14 categories will be given out on March 21, at. the opening gala of the Entertainment Expo Hong Kong.

Four special awards have also been established this year to reward outstanding members of the Asian film industry, including Lifetime Achievement Awards, Awards for Outstanding Contribution to Asian Cinema, Award for Promotion of Asian Cinema, and Award for 2010 Top-Grossing Film. 

“The exceptional output from China, Japan and South Korea shows that the film industries in these three regions are evenly developed,” HKIFFS chairman Wilfred Wong told The Hollywood Reporter. “The fact that two of the most-nominated films are also high-grossing hits in their respective countries is a testament to how audiences react to quality pictures. Many of the films nominated this year give an original take on unconventional subject matter.”

Chinese-language films also dominate the nominations. Apart from the 17 nods for films from China, including three for the China, Hong Kong and Taiwan co-production Reign of Assassins, seven nominations are bestowed upon films from Hong Kong, and the Taiwan runaway hit Monga seizes all five nominations for the island. India, Kyrgyzstan, and Indonesia garner mention for Peepli Live, The Light Thief, and Madame X, respectively.

“Art is subjective,” says jury president Yonfan. “The nominations reflect whether a film possesses qualities distinctive of its maker, sometimes not characteristic of the country or film industry it came from.”

Stars with box office clout also fill the acting categories, with Chow Yun-fat (Let the Bullets Fly), Ge You (Sacrifice), Ha Yung-woo (The Yellow Sea), Ethan Ruan Jin-Tian (Monga), and Yakusho Koji (13 Assassins) are in the best actor race, while Cannes best actress winner Jeon Do-yeon (The Housemaid) will compete against Oscar nominee Kikuchi Rinko (Norwegian Wood) in the best actress category with Matsu Takako (Confessions), Xu Fan (Aftershock), and Michelle Yeoh (Reign of Assassins).

The awards ceremony will be broadcast across Asia via Star Chinese Movies, Xing Kong (Star Chinese Channel China), and Fox International.