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Wong Kar Wai brought the 8th Asia Film Awards to an emotional conclusion in Macau Thursday night, dedicating his best director award for The Grandmaster to the film’s stuntman Ju Kun, who was among passengers lost aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
Nearing tears, the director called for greater transparency and resolution for the families of those aboard the missing airliner. The Grandmaster‘s star, Zhang Ziyi, who took the best actress prize during the AFAs Thursday night, watched from the crowd crying during the speech.
“One of our martial arts directors unfortunately is one of the victims of MH370, so here I hope the Malaysian government can try their best to address this issue by taking a more transparent attitude,” said Wong, adding “let us know the truth.”
Kun, who worked as a stunt double for Jet Li on Universal’s co-production The Forbidden Kingdom, was scheduled to work on the Weinstein Co. and Netflix TV period drama Marco Polo at a studio in Malaysia before he boarded the flight to return to Beijing to visit his kids.
On March 8, Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared from civilian radar screens a little less than an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing with 239 people on board. No confirmed sighting of the plane or its remains has been made since. The Malaysian government has since said it believes it crashed somewhere in the Indian Ocean and that all passengers should be presumed dead.
The Malaysia government has faced fierce criticism for its handling of the incident — particularly for the way it withheld information from international search partners and victims’ families.
Zhang wrote on Sina Weibo that she’s hoping for a miracle. She said the missing flight was the talk of the set on her latest movie, John Woo’s The Crossing, which is concluding filming in Beijing.
Zhang described Ju as “sincere, kind and hardworking.”
Wong’s The Grandmaster dominated the newly revamped Asia Film Awards Thursday night, taking seven awards, including best director, best actress, best film, best score, best composer, best costume design and best production design.
India’s The Lunchbox also made a strong showing at the pan-Asian event, winning best screenplay for writer-director Ritesh Batra and best actor for Irfan Khan.
An Oscars-like event for Asian cinema, the AFAs relaunched for its eigth edition this year with the backing of the Hong Kong, Tokyo and Busan International Film Festivals — part of a long-term strategy for broader regional legitimacy and influence, the organizers say. The event also relocated from Hong Kong to the glitzy $2.95 billion City of Dreams casino complex in Macau.
The revamped awards show drew some of Asia’s top stars, including Wong, Zhang, Donnie Yen, Carina Lau and director Johnnie To.
Yeo Yann Yann of Singaporean art house hit Ilo Ilo took best supporting actress, while Huang Bo won best supporting actor for No Man’s Land. The best newcomer prize went to China’s Jiang Shuying for her performance in box-office hit So Young.
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