‘The Separation’ shines at Asian film awards
Published : Mar 20, 2012 - 12:53
Updated : Mar 20, 2012 - 20:25
South Korean actress Yoon Eun-hye on the red carpet at the Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong on Monday. (AP)
HONG KONG (AFP) ― Iranian film “The Separation” was the stand out picture at the Asian Film Awards on Monday, winning top prizes including best film and best director, while China took home six gongs.

The movie, which won Iran’s first-ever Oscar for best foreign language film last month, won four out of five nominations it received at the top Asian film event. The two other awards were for best screenwriter and best editor.

The only nomination that it did not win was in the best actress category, which went to Hong Kong’s veteran actress Deanie Ip for her role as a loyal servant in the film “A Simple Life.”

“This is an absolute honour,” The Separation’s lead actress Leila Hatami said as she received the best film award on behalf of director Asghar Farhadi who was absent.

“I want to say a very sincere thank you,” Hatami, who was clad in a black Islamic headscarf, told the crowd at the glitzy ceremony in Hong Kong’s harbourside convention centre late Monday.

“A Separation” presents a social expose of the Islamic republic behind the veneer of a taut family drama, while exploring themes of love, lies and honour.

The movie begins with a reluctant divorce bid by a couple, but broadens out as they find themselves in a separate legal dispute with another couple following a tragic event at home.

Indonesian actor Donny Damara sprung a surprise by winning the best actor award for his role as a transvestite sex worker confronted by his teenage daughter, in a story that was shot in the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

“I dedicate this award to all Indonesian films,” the overjoyed 45-year-old ― who had to learn how to walk with high-heels for his role in the film ― told reporters.

Chinese films dominated the ceremony, winning six of the 14 awards, including Ni Ni for best newcomer in Nanjing Massacre film “The Flowers of War”, the country’s biggest box office smash of the past year.

The historical drama also starred Oscar-winning British actor Christian Bale playing an American mortician who posed as a priest to protect women during the Japanese army’s invasion of Nanjing, China.

3-D martial arts movie “Flying Swords of Dragon Gate” led the nomination race with seven nods but received just two technical awards in the visual effects and costume designer category.

The film told the story of a Ming Dynasty general fighting imperial assassins at a remote outpost in the Chinese desert.

The Asian Film Awards, organised by the Hong Kong International Film Festival and held annually since 2007, have been traditionally dominated by South Koreans ― but there were no South Korean winners this year.

The event is aimed at showcasing the region’s movie talent. Thirty-two films from across the region vied for the 14 prizes.

Hong Kong director Ann Hui was honoured for her life’s work at the ceremony with the Lifetime Achievement Award. She is the first female director to receive the award.