'Ip Man' takes top H.K. Film Awards honor

'The Way We Are' wins best director, actress

HONG KONG -- Ann Hui's "The Way We Are" and John Woo's "Red Cliff" dominated Sunday's 28th annual Hong Kong Film Awards, but the night's biggest prize went to "Ip Man," the hit biopic.

"The Way We Are," director Hui's intimate and realistic look at the communities in a new town prone to social problems, won four major awards including best director, best screenwriter for Lui Yau-wah, best actress for Paw Hee-ching and supporting actress for Chan Lai-wun.

Both Paw and Chan are veteran TV actresses in Hong Kong. The film was the only non co-production in the best film competition.

" 'The Way We Are' proves that a locally produced film still has value in the market," Hong Kong Film Awards Assn. chairman Gordon Chan said. "It was a great film and has an excellent script. Although it didn't make a lot of money in Hong Kong, the accolades it received, given by members of the local film community, show that Hong Kong films still absolutely have its worth."

Both male acting prizes went to "The Beast Stalker," with Nick Cheung and Liu Kai-chi claiming the best actor and supporting actor nods, respectively.

The $44 million-grossing first part of John Woo's epic "Red Cliff" took home five awards in technical categories, including best sound design, visual effects, art direction, costume, makeup design and original film score.

However, the winner of the night's top prize was action drama "Ip Man," starring Donnie Yen. The best film winner grossed more than 100 million yuan ($14.6 million) during its China release this year, but has yet to find a U.S. distributor.

Josephine Siao Fong Fong, a two-time Hong Kong Film Awards best actress and Berlin Film Festival actress winner for "Summer Snow" (1996), received the lifetime achievement award. Siao began her career as a child actress in the 1950s and retired in the early 2000s because of a hearing disability, after making more than 80 films. One of the most respected actors in the territory, Siao was introduced by a montage of her work narrated by Stephen Chow and was presented with the award by director Wong Kar Wai.

With "100 years of Hong Kong Cinema" as the theme of this year's awards, the ceremony paid homage to the centennial of Hong Kong cinema, with a series of parody shorts shot in the style of Hong Kong classics including Wong Kar Wai's "Days of Being Wild," Woo's "A Better Tomorrow" and the Pang brothers' "The Eye."

The awards also paid tribute to filmmaking outside the territory, awarding best Asian film to Chinese director Feng Xiaogang's "Assembly."