CineAsia honor roll


3D, digital fuel optimism in Asia

This year's CineAsia honorees represent the best and brightest in the vibrant Asian film sector.

Star of the Year: Zhou Xun

Zhou Xun
Great things come in small packages, and Chinese actress and CineAsia Star of the Year Xun is positively tiny. The little giant starred in the hit spy thriller the "The Message," and has two much-anticipated movies forthcoming: "True Legend" and "Confucius." Since making a splash in 2000 with "Suzhou River," she's won nearly every Chinese-language and regional acting award there is. What's next? Zhou says: "I'm keen to explore any character I haven't tried. There's a fate thing between an actress and the character she's meant to play. You see it in a script and you just know."
-- Jonathan Landreth

Exhibitor of the Year: Irving Chee, Golden Screen Cinemas

Irving Chee
Chee Huan Tong is a quiet but steady force. He joined the industry in 1985 having audited the books and the property portfolio of Shaw Brothers in Malaysia. Since then he has been through periods of industry consolidation, modernization and expansion. "Nowadays Malaysian cinemas are quite competitive in terms of design and size," he says, though he credits Australia's Village group with importing the true multiplex model into the country. He is similarly modest about his own prize and says it comes from "cumulative success." The company has delivered double-digit growth since the previous recession in Asia and doubled in size since 2003. "Absolutely, there's still room to grow. We are still really only in the big cities," he says.
-- Patrick Frater

Distributor of the Year: Sunder Kimatrai, 20th Century Fox International

Born in India and educated in Arizona, Kimatrai cut his teeth in the film business by managing India and Australia for Fox before having his remit expanded to include the Asia Pacific. "If you look at the success and consistency of Fox's releases, Sunder has managed to deliver uniformity and he's done it well," says Stephen Basil-Jones, chair of the Motion Pictures Distributors Association of Australia. Kimatrai's CineAsia honor may be even more well deserved in January following the multiterritory, multilanguage and multiformat release of "Avatar" in the space of several weeks in markets as diverse as Pakistan, Australia, Mongolia and Japan. Even this "smart and considered" executive acknowledges that it's the most complex and challenging release he's ever handled.
-- Pip Bulbeck

Asia-Pacific Copyright Educator Award: Raymond Wong, producer

Veteran producer Wong was once told jokingly by a Chinese film industry insider that 95% of the movie audience in China watches pirated DVDs. Nevertheless, Chinese boxoffice grosses have risen to hundred of millions, due in no small part to Wong producing one-two punches like "Ip Man" last Christmas and "All's Well That Ends Well 2009" during the Chinese New Year. The studio head and astute businessman who co-founded 1980s powerhouse Cinema City, Mandarin Films and now Pegasus Films is adamant to fight film piracy in China apart from focusing his energy on producing the follow-ups, "Ip Man 2" and "All's Well That Ends Well Too 2010."
-- Karen Chu

Producer of the Year: Peter Lam, chairman, Media Asia Group

Peter Lam
Lam Kin-ngok deserves the title "billion yuan producer." In the past 12 months alone, the films Lam produced have grossed more than 1 billion yuan ($146 million) across greater China. Despite the tumultuous economic climate, the chairman of Asian powerhouse studio Media Asia shepherded mega-blockbusters and shattered the record of the highest-grossing film in China twice in a year with "If You Are the One" and then "Founding of the Republic." The garment industrialist and property tycoon-turned-movie mogul is one of the major driving forces in Chinese-language cinema, who eyes not only the 1.3 billion Chinese population, but also the Chinese population around the globe.
-- Karen Chu