Hong Kong gets in early as film awards drama starts to build

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The Independent Culture

The traditional awards season might still be months away in Hong Kong but the film industry here has been trying to amp up the excitement already this week.

First off, the Hong Kong Film Critics Society (http://www.filmcritics.org.hk) jumped the gun by announcing their major award winners for 2009 - even though their big night will not be held until March 3.

In an effort to grab some of the attention normally reserved for the city's most prestigious prize ceremony - the Hong Kong Film Awards (http://www.hkfaa.com), which will be held on April 18 - the critics announced that mainland Chinese actor Wang Xueqi was their choice for Best Actor in 2009 for his role in the box office smash Bodyguards and Assassins.

In the film, Wang plays one of the men trying to protect revolutionary leader Sun Yat-sen during a trip to Hong Kong in the early 1900s.

Best Film will go to a production about the Chinese piano prodigy Wong Ka-jeng, titled KJ: Music and Life, while the award for Best Director will be shared between the co-directors of the thriller Overheard, Alan Mak and Felix Chong. Kara Hui will pick up the Best Actress gong for her role in the tearjerker At the End of Daybreak.

And before the newsprint had even dried on that story, organizers of the Asian Film Awards (http://www.asianfilmawards.org) - latecomers to the awards circuit but an event which is trying to market itself as "Asia's Oscars'' - announced that Tony Leung Ka-fai would this year chair the jury for their fourth edition, which will be held on March 22.

Not to be confused with Tony Leung Chiu-wai - star of such internationally acclaimed films as In the Mood For Love - "the other Tony Leung,'' as he is sometimes humorously referred to, has had a glittering career of his own.

International audiences might remember him from Jean-Jacques Annaud's The Lover while he has more recently appeared in the acclaimed Chinese productions Everlasting Regret, Election, and, like Wang, Bodyguards and Assassins.

"It was such a challenge to select the nominations from hundreds of superb films this year, which are all part of a display of exquisite talent in Asian film. The world class productions you see today require a lot of dedication and beliefs," Leung said through a press release.

The AFA is now considered the foremost regional film awards and nominates films shot in different languages. Traditionally for the Chinese film industry, the most prestigious awards have been the Golden Horse Awards, held in Taiwan each November.

The official nomination list for the AFAs will be released on January 20.

Hong Kong Film Awards -  www.hkfaa.com

Hong Kong Film Critics Society - www.filmcritics.org.hk

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