'Uncle Boonmee' Wins Best Film at Asian Film Awards


Korea's Lee Chang-dong wins for best director and best screenwriter, for 'Poetry.'

Once again, the name of Thai film director Apichatpong Weerasethakul is on the tip of everybody’s (twisted) tongue as his Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall his Past Lives was named best film at the 5th Asian Film Awards on Monday in Hong Kong.

Winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2010, Uncle Boonmee invokes the lifestyle and animistic beliefs of northeastern Thailand’s country folk, the primitive magic of early Thai cinema and the director’s musings on reincarnation.

The star-studded awards ceremony saw 18 awards handed out at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center where Lisa S., Angela Chow and Archie Kao hosted the broadcast.

Lee Chang-dong of South Korea was named best director and best screenwriter for his drama Poetry, about a suburban woman in her 60s who takes up writing verse while struggling with Alzheimer’s Disease and an irresponsible grandson. 

The best actor award went to Lee’s countryman Ha Jung-woo for his performance in The Yellow Sea as a down and out ethnic Korean living in China sent to South Korea to perform an assassination. 

China’s Xu Fan won the best actress award for her performance at the mother in the earthquake drama Aftershock by her husband, the director Feng Xiaogang

Winning the inaugural Asian Film Awards special prize for The Promotion of Asian Cinema was Fortissimo Films, distributor of such diverse Asian fare as the Serbis by Brillante Mendoza of the Philippines, I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone by Tsai Ming-liang of Taiwan, Norwegian Wood by Tran Anh Hung of Japan, Syndromes and a Century by Weerasethakul and Dream Home by Hong Konger Pang Ho-cheung.

After an absence from the awards in 2010, Japan returned to the winners' list with prizes for best cinematographer going to Mark Lee Ping-bin for shooting Norwegian Wood, and for best production designer going to Yuji Hayashida for his work on 13 Assassins.

The 2011 AFA best newcomer award went to Mark Chao You-ting for his role in the hit 1980s period gangster film Monga from Taiwan’s writer-director Doze Niu.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Hong Kong producer Raymond Chow Man-wai, the founder of Golden Harvest, the Hong Kong studio that helped launch the international martial arts film careers of both Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan.

Kim Dong-ho, the outgoing chairman and current honorary director of the Busan International Film Festival, which he founded in 1996, won the Asian Film Award special prize for Outstanding Contribution to Asian Cinema.


The 2011 Asian Film Award winners:

Film: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Apitchatpong Weerasethakul (Thailand)

Director: Lee Chang-dong, Poetry (South Korea)

Actor: Ha Jung-woo, The Yellow Sea (South Korea)

Actress: Xu Fan, Aftershock (China/Hong Kong)

Newcomer: Mark Chao You-Ting, Monga (Taiwan)

Supporting Actor: Sammo Hung Kam-po, Ip Man 2 (Hong Kong)

Supporting Actress: Yoon Yeo-jeong, The Housemaid (South Korea)

Screenwriter: Lee Chang-dong, Poetry (South Korea)

Cinematographer: Mark Lee Ping-Bin, Norwegian Wood (Japan)

Production Designer: Yuji Hayashida, 13 Assassins (Japan)

Music Score: Indian Ocean, Peepli Live (India)

Editing: Nam Na-young, I Saw the Devil (South Korea)

Visual Effects: Phil Jones, Aftershock (China/Hong Kong)

Costume Designer: William Chang Suk-ping, Let The Bullets Fly (China/Hong Kong)


Special Asian Film Awards:

Outstanding Contribution to Asian Cinema: Kim Dong-ho

Lifetime Achievement: Raymond Chow

Promotion of Asian Cinema: Fortissimo Films

2010 Top-Grossing Film: Aftershock