‘Project Gutenberg’ Sweeps Hong Kong Film Awards With 7 Wins

Courtesy Panasia Films Limited
'Project Gutenberg'

The action drama about counterfeiting U.S. banknotes from writer-director Felix Chong and starring Chow Yun-fat and Aaron Kwok received 17 nominations.

The banknote forgery drama Project Gutenberg swept the 38th Hong Kong Film Awards, taking home seven statuettes including for best film, cinematography, art direction, costume and makeup design, film editing and director and screenplay for writer-helmer Felix Chong.

Chong, who won the best new director award for Once a Gangster in 2011, is famed for his scriptwriting work with longtime collaborator Alan Mak on Infernal Affairs and has been nominated nine times in the best screenplay category. Project Gutenberg, which took 13 years to make it to the big screen, marked Chong's third win as a screenwriter and the first time he was awarded as the sole writer.

Starring Chow Yun-fat and Aaron Kwok, Project Gutenberg received 17 Hong Kong Film Award nominations and grossed $187 million in China last year.

Besides Project Gutenberg, this year’s Hong Kong Film Awards recognized the talents of emerging directors. Nearly all of the acting category award winners (except best actress) won for performances in films by first-time directors.

Anthony Wong, who has previously been honored for his work in films, on television and on the stage, was crowned best actor for his portrayal of a wheelchair-bound man who needs around-the-clock care in Still Human, the helming debut of Oliver Chan, who also won the best new director prize. It was the fifth time Wong has been honored with a Hong Kong Film Award, as he earned best actor honors for The Untold Story in 1994 and Beast Cops in 1999, and the best supporting actor award for Infernal Affairs in 2003 and Initial D in 2006. Filipino actress-singer Crisel Consunji, who played the domestic worker who looked after Wong’s character in the film, was named best new performer.

Likewise, the best supporting actor and actress winners shone in a film by a first-time director. Acting veterans Kara Wai and Ben Yuen were named best supporting actress and supporting actor, respectively, for their work in the transgender drama Tracey by helmer Jun Li. Wai has previously earned five Hong Kong Film Awards, including the first-ever best actress prize at the inaugural edition in 1982 for My Young Auntie.

Meanwhile, Chinese actress Chloe Maayan was tapped as best actress for her first starring role in director Fruit Chan’s Three Husbands, the concluding chapter of his “prostitute trilogy.”

The year 2018 was a difficult on for the Hong Kong film industry, with only 54 homegrown films released. But the bright side was that a third of the pics were by new directors.

Both Wai and Wong spoke about giving fledgling filmmakers a hand in their acceptance speeches. Wai urged her filmmaking colleagues to support new directors for the ongoing survival of the local film industry, while Wong talked about forgoing his paycheck to star in Still Human, which was made with a HK$3.25 million ($418,000) budget under the government-sponsored First Film Initiative.

A list of winners of the 38th Hong Kong Film Awards is below.

Best Film
Project Gutenberg

Best Director
Felix Chong, Project Gutenberg

Best Actor
Anthony Wong, Still Human

Best Actress
Chloe Maayan, Three Husbands

Best Supporting Actor
Ben Yuen, Tracey

Best Supporting Actress
Kara Wai, Tracey

Best New Performer
Crisel Consunji, Still Human

Best New Director
Oliver Chan, Still Human

Best Screenplay
Project Gutenberg

Best Cinematography
Project Gutenberg

Best Art Direction
Project Gutenberg

Best Costume & Makeup Design
Project Gutenberg

Best Film Editing
Project Gutenberg

Best Visual Effects
Operation Red Sea

Best Sound Design
Operation Red Sea

Best Action Choreography
Operation Red Sea

Best Original Film Song
Men on the Dragon

Best Original Film Score
Men on the Dragon

Best Film From Mainland and Taiwan
Dying to Survive