Chinese blockbusters set for battle at Asian Film Awards

The two biggest grossing movies in Chinese cinema's history are in the running for this year's 5th Asian Film Awards, an event that positions itself as the most prestigious ceremony in the region.

This year's AFAs ( http://www.asianfilmawards.asia/2011) will be staged at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on March 21 and see the Chinese western Let the Bullets Fly - a film laced with political satire - vying for the top award with the earthquake-themed epic Aftershock. Both films picked up more than 600 million yuan (67 million euros) at the Chinese box office, with Let the Bullets Fly still screening and closing in on Aftershock's record of 673 million yuan (76 million euros).

Let the Bullets Fly and the Japanese thriller Confessions lead with six nominations apiece. Also in the running for the top award at the AFAs are Thailand's Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, winner of the prestigious top Palme d'Or prize at the Cannes Film Festival last year, as well as the Indian drama Peepli Live and South Korea's Poetry.

The AFAs were instigated five years ago by the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society (HKIFFS) in an effort to provide awards that covered every film market in the region. Previously the most prestigious awards were generally seen to be the Golden Horse awards, held in Taiwan each November, but these are only open to Chinese films.

HKIFFS's chairman said on announcing this year's nominations that the AFA's aim is to bring the whole region together. "The magic of cinema and filmmaking unites different nationalities, peoples and cultures universally," he said.

And the nominees are:

Best Film: Let the Bullets Fly (China), Confessions (Japan), Aftershock (China), Peepli Live (India), Poetry (South Korea), Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Thailand)

Best Director: Feng Xiaogang ( Aftershock), Jiang Wen ( Let the Bullets Fly), Nakashima Tetsuya ( Confessions), Lee Chang-dong ( Poetry), Takashi Miike ( 13 Assassins), Na Hong-jin ( The Yellow Sea)

Best Actor: Chow Yun-fat ( Let the Bullets Fly), Ge You ( Sacrifice), Ha Yung-woo ( The Yellow Sea), Ethan Ruan Jin-Tian ( Monga), Yakusho Koji ( 13 Assassins)

Best actress: Jeon Do-yeon ( The Housemaid), Kikuchi Rinko ( Norwegian Wood), Matsu Takako ( Confessions), Xu Fan ( Aftershock), Michelle Yeoh ( Reign of Assassins)

Trailers:

Let the Bullets Fly: http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMjIxNTkwNTIw.html
Confessions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXLQ5BPC2ko
Aftershock: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_QML6RdN0E
Peepli Live: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOYGITKbINo
Poetry: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xgkma5_poetry_shortfilms
Uncle Boonmee who can Recall His Past Lives: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jk-EoUb0nvg

Asian Film Awards
March 21
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
http://www.asianfilmawards.asia/2011/

MS

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