Filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai's martial arts epic The Grandmaster dominated the Hong Kong Film Awards on Sunday (13Apr14) after winning 12 honours. The movie was named Best Film and earned Zhang Ziyi the Best Actress title, while Best Supporting Actor went to her co-star Zhang Jin.
Wong walked away as Best Director, 20 years after his last win in the same category for 1994's Chungking Express.
During his acceptance speech, Wong, who also claimed the same prize for 1990's Days of Being Wild, said, "I remember it was 1994 when I was last here. It was a short walk from the podium to the stage, but it took me 20 years to come back to this spot."
The Grandmaster also landed accolades for Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Original Film Score and Best Action Choreography, among others.
Meanwhile, Nick Cheung won the Best Actor award for his role in mixed martial arts drama Unbeatable, Kara Wai scored Best Supporting Actress for Rigor Mortis and Best New Director went to Adam Wong for The Way We Dance.
Director Cheung Yam-Yim was also presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Grandmaster's big wins at the Hong Kong Film Awards follows similar success at the Asia Film Awards and the Hong Kong Film Directors' Guild Awards last month (Mar14).
Revered Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar Wai dedicated his Best Director honour at the Asia Film Awards to stuntman Ju Kun, who is among the passengers feared dead following the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. The moviemaker fought back tears as he accepted his latest trophy in Macau on Thursday (27Mar14), revealing that the families of the missing people were constantly on his mind.
Wong Kar Wai received his award for The Grandmaster, which features Ju Kun in stunt scenes.
The film's star, Zhang Ziyi, who was awarded the Best Actress prize at the AFAs, burst into tears during her director's emotional speech.
Kun boarded the doomed flight to return to his family in Beijing, China.
The aircraft disappeared from civilian radar screens on 8 March (14), less than an hour after take off from Kuala Lumpur.
No confirmed sighting of the plane has been made since, although satellite images suggest the plane crashed somewhere in the Indian Ocean. All 227 passengers are presumed dead.
Wong Kar Wai's new film swept the board at the AFAs, picking up seven awards in total, including Best Film and Best Score.
India's The Lunchbox landed writer/director Ritesh Batra the Best Screenplay award and leading man Irfan Khan the Best Actor honour.
Oscar-nominated martial arts film The Grandmaster swept the board at the Hong Kong Film Directors' Guild Awards on Wednesday (05Mar14), earning four prizes including Best Film. Wong Kar-wai was also named Best Director, while the movie's stars, Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Zhang Ziyi claimed Best Actor and Best Actress, respectively.
Babyjohn Choi earned the Best Newcomer honour for his role as a tai chi master in The Way We Dance, which also landed Adam Wong the title of Best New Director.
The Hong Kong Film Directors' Guild also had a special award for As the Light Goes Out moviemaker Derek Kwok.
The annual event celebrates the best in Chinese film.
Chinese actor Tony Leung broke both his arms filming fight scenes for Wong Kar-Wai's The Grandmaster after the director refused to use stunt doubles for the martial arts movie. The Lust, Caution star portrays Bruce Lee's kung-fu tutor Ip Man in the film, and Wong admits Leung was not deterred by the injuries because the director had fully warned him about the lengths he would have to go through for the biopic, which took a gruelling three years to complete.
During a special post-screening question and answer session with Martin Scorsese in New York on Wednesday (08Jan14), Wong explained, "I spoke with Tony and said, 'I am going to make a movie about Ip Man and you're going to play this master. You have to do hand-to-hand combat sequences by yourself. There won't be a double. You have to do some serious training.' He thought about it and said 'OK.'"
Wong also revealed that he had turned to Scorsese's 1980 boxing epic Raging Bull to pick up tips on how to best shoot the fight scenes.
He told a flattered Scorsese: "It was a very hard process to do the action in this film. In fact, when we were doing our choreography sequences, I looked at your secrets in Raging Bull, because it's one of the best action sequences made in the history of cinema."
And Wong continued to praise the revered filmmaker throughout the discussion at the Lighthouse International Theater, telling the crowd, "It's a great honour to be here with my hero, and he's very gracious to join us in light of his terrible (busy) schedule."
Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai's The Grandmaster and Italian filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino's The Great Beauty are among the nine semi-finalists for the 2014 Oscars' Best Foreign Language Film category. Representatives from a record 76 countries submitted their top picks for the Academy Award in October (13), and the longlist has been gradually cut down in the run-up to the 2014 prizegiving.
The contenders were reduced to nine on Friday (20Dec13) and the new list also features: The Broken Circle Breakdown by Felix van Groeningen (Belgium); An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker from Danis Tanovic (Bosnia and Herzegovina); The Missing Picture by Rithy Panh (Cambodia); The Hunt by Thomas Vinterberg (Denmark); Two Lives from Georg Maas (Germany), The Notebook by Janos Szasz (Hungary), and Hany Abu-Assad's Omar (Palestine).
The final shortlist will feature five movies in contention for the big prize and will be announced on 16 January (14), when the Oscar nominations will be unveiled.
The 86th Academy Awards will take place in Hollywood on 2 March (14).
Singaporean filmmaker Anthony Chen has won the top prize at Taiwan's Golden Horse Awards for his directorial debut. Ilo Ilo was named Best Feature Film at Saturday's ceremony in Taipei, beating competition from Johnnie To's Drug War, Jia Zhangke's A Touch of Sin, The Grandmaster from Wong Kar Wai, and Tsai Ming-liang's Stray Dogs.
The drama, about a maid's awkward relationship with her employers, also earned Chen Best Original Screenplay and Best New Director honours, while its star, Yeo Yann Yann, was named Best Supporting Actress.
The accolades will give Chen a big boost ahead of the 2014 Oscars, where Ilo Ilo, which was a winner at the Cannes Film Festival in France in May (13), has been put forward as Singapore's official entry for the Foreign Language Film award.
It was also a big night for Wong Kar Wai - martial arts film The Grandmaster claimed Best Leading Actress for Zhang Ziyi, in addition to four other wins in craft categories, while Stray Dogs landed Best Director for Tsai Ming-liang and Best Leading Actor for Lee Kang Sheng.
Best Supporting Actor went to Xuejian Li for Back to 1942.
The winners for the Golden Horse Awards, which celebrate the best in Chinese-language cinema, were decided by a jury led by Oscar winner Ang Lee.
Zhang Ziyi has been a leading martial arts star for over a decade, and in her latest, Wong Kar-Wai's The Grandmaster, Zhang gives her stongest performance yet. After breaking onto the scene in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Zhang has steadily starred in a string of epic kung fu tales, including Zhang Yimou's Hero and House of Flying Daggers. Even when she's not flying through the air with a sword or kicking multiple men at the same time, she rules the screen with just about everything she does. Here is the proof, in GIF form.
In Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Zhang proves that she can hold her own with a much more experienced kung fu master.
She can even fight without looking while drinking tea.
Just throw that sword sheath casually to the side, NBD.
This girl likes her swords sharp.
In Hero, she takes on Jet Li. When this much fierce comes at you, you best get out the way.
Multiple attackers are no match for Zhang.
In Rush Hour 2, Zhang knows martial arts and how to shoot a gun. Be afraid, be very afraid.
Even when she gets stabbed, she makes it look kind of cute.
Zhang's beauty is mesmerizing, especially in black and white.
She's even beautiful when she's somber and saying some really depressing stuff.
House of Flying Daggers showcases Zhang's dance skills in a gorgeous brothel.
But that doesn't mean she doesn't also have amazing kung fu skills.
Even though she plays a blind woman, Zhang can still fend off bad guys while balancing between two bamboo trees.
Sometimes she can be pretty tricky with her assassinations.
In Memoirs of a Geisha, she has one fierce head-turn.
Here she is fighting in The Grandmaster, in which she is a total, utter badass.
Did we mention that she's awesome?
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Acclaimed director Wong Kar-Wai was saluted with France's highest cultural honour on Sunday (05May13) in celebration of his lengthy career. The In The Mood For Love moviemaker was named a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters (Ordre des Arts et des Lettres) and presented with the medal by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius at the consul-general's official residence in Hong Kong.
The filmmaker said the award is "in a way, a tribute to Hong Kong cinema," and that France is cinema's "spirit home."
His induction into the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres means he follows in the footsteps of screen stars including Clint Eastwood, Sean Connery and Michael Caine, and singer David Bowie.
Director Alexander Payne's (Election Sideways) new film opens over sprawling landscape shots of Hawaii's scenic suburbia accompanied by George Clooney's character Matt King summing up his current predicament: "Paradise can go fuck itself." The reaction unfortunately is reasonable.
We pick up with King an ancestor of Hawaiian royalty in the middle of deliberations over a plot of land handed down through his family over generations. With every uncle aunt and cosign whispering opinions into his ear King is suddenly presented with an even greater problem: taking care of his two daughters. A boating accident leaves his wife in a coma forcing Matt to take a true parenting role with his young socially-troubled daughter Scottie (Amara Miller) and his rebellious teen Alexandra (Shailene Woodley) who was previously shipped off to boarding school. Matt awkwardly hunts for the emotional glue necessary for the mismatched bunch to become "a family " but matters are made even more complicated when Alex reveals that her mother was cheating on him before the accident. Murphy's Law is in full effect.
With The Descendants Payne continues to explore and discover the inherent humor in life's melancholic situations unfolding Matt's quest for understanding like a road movie across Hawaii's many islands. Simultaneously preparing for the end of his wife's death and searching for the identity of her lover Matt crosses paths with a number of perfectly cast side characters who act as mirrors to his best and worst qualities: his father-in-law Scott (Robert Foster) who belittles Matt for never taking care of his daughter; Hugh (Beau Bridges) an opportunistic cousin who pressures Matt to sell the land; Alexandra's dunce of a boyfriend Sid (Nick Krause) who always has the wrong thing to say; and Julie (Judy Greer) the wife of the adulterer in question. Colorful yet real Matt experiences a definitive moment with each of them yet the picture never feels sporadic or episodic.
Clooney and Woodley help gel these sequences together as they observe experience and butt heads as equals. Clooney's own magnetism stands in the way of making Matt a fully dimensional character but he shines when playing off his quick-witted daughter. His reactions are heartbreaking—but it's the moments when he has to put himself out there that never quite ring true. But the script by Nat Faxon Jim Rash and Payne gives Clooney plenty of opportunities to work his magic visualizing his struggle as opposed to vomiting it out like so many of today's talky dramas.
The Descendants is a tender cinematic experience an introspective and heartwarming film unafraid to convey its story with pleasing simplicity. Clooney stands out with a solid performance but like many of Payne's films it's the eclectic ensemble and muted backdrop that give the movie its real texture. The paradise of Descendants isn't all its cracked up to be but for movie-goers it's bliss.
The Milk moviemaker is expected to accept the Visionary Award at the event, which runs from 17-28 November (10).
Created in 2004, the prize honours "visionaries in modern film".
This year (10), festival bosses are hailing Van Sant's works as "a celebration of film art". His noted film credits include Drugstore Cowboy, My Own Private Idaho, To Die For and Finding Forrester, among others.
The filmmaker joins rank of past Visionary Award recipients including Wong Kar Wai, Todd Solondz, Wes Anderson, Terry Gilliam and Luc Besson.