Gritty drama shines at Hong Kong Film Awards

A GRITTY, LOW-budget docudrama set in one of the most poverty-stricken districts of Hong Kong dominated the city’s annual film awards.

By (AFP)

Published: Tue 21 Apr 2009, 9:35 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 10:59 PM

The Way We Are, which is set in the Tin Shui Wai border town far from the towering skyscrapers and ostentatious wealth of downtown Hong Kong, took home four of the top gongs at Sunday’s ceremony, including best director and best actress.

The district, near the border with China and known locally as the ‘City of Sadness’, has been hit by a string of suicides and domestic violence cases in recent years.

Most tragically, in 2007 a woman killed her two children by throwing them from the 24th floor of her building, before leaping to her own death. The film aims to shine a brighter light on the everyday lives of people in the area.

While The Way We Are lost out to Ip Man, a biopic of the kung fu master of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, for best film, there was little doubt the night belonged to director Ann Hui and veteran actress Paw Hee-ching.

Paw, who will turn 60 this year, became the first Hong Kong star to win the best actress award since 2004, as mainland actresses such as Gong Li have monopolised the prize.

“I had never thought I would get any award here. I worked in this film only because I supported Ann Hui (the director),” the teary actress said at Sunday’s awards ceremony.

“There was no money, no all-star cast. There was only a director with great enthusiasm and excellent work attitude, who managed to turn a film like this into a spectacular achievement,” said Paw.

Paw said she was delighted to win the award in the 100th anniversary of the city’s film industry and overturn the dominance of mainland Chinese actresses.

“These days, it’s becoming rare to have Hong Kong actresses grabbing the top honours,” Paw, who plays a single mother in the film, told reporters after the awards.

After becoming a movie powerhouse in the 1970s on the back of its martial arts innovations, Hong Kong’s movie industry has struggled in recent years, although its top stars remain hugely popular across Asia.

Critics have also said that young Hong Kong actresses are more interested in making money than developing their craft.

Hong Kong action supremo John Woo’s historical war epic Red Cliff, said to be the most expensive Asian-financed film to date, grabbed five gongs in the technical categories, but failed to pick up any of the night’s big awards.

Rising star Nick Cheung, better known as a comic, bagged the best actor award for playing a kidnapper in action-packed thriller The Beast Stalker.

“The process of transformation was quite lonely and tough,” he said.

The best new performer award went to the youngest nominee this year, Xu Jiao, for her lively performance in Stephen Chow’s sci-fi movie CJ 7.

“I am very touched. Father, I got full marks this time!” the 11-year old said after grabbing the award.

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