Host Nabs Asian Film Awards

The South Korean creature feature The Host grabbed four out of ten awards given out Monday night at the very first Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong. In addition to taking top honors for Best Film, the pic snatched up kudos for cinematography, acting and visual effects during the star-studded ceremony at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center. The event kicked off the Entertainment Expo Hong Kong, which runs through April 15, 2007.

The Host, which opened in limited release in the U.S. on March 9, features CG animation and other visual effects by The Orphanage to tell the tale on one family’s struggle to rescue a loved one when a mutant amphibious creature emerges from Seoul’s Han River and begins attacking people.

The genre film pulled off an upset in the Best Film category by beating a field of tough competitors that included Curse of the Golden Flower, the latest period epic from director Yimou Zhang (House of Flying Daggers, Hero). Neither Zhang nor Host director Joon Ho Bong were nominated for Best Director. That honor went to Zhangke Jia for China’s Still Life, one of the other four productions nominated for Best Film. Japan’s Love and Honor, Hong Kong’s Exiled and the Indonesia/Austria co-production Opera Jawa filled out the category.

The Host also trumped Curse of the Golden Flower in the Best Visual Effects category. The other nominees were The Restless from South Korea, The Sinking of Japan from Japan and Memories of Matsuko from Japan. The Host‘s live-action shots also got some respect as lenser Hyung-goo Kim was named Best Cinematographer.

In another upset, Host actor Kang-ho Song took Best Actor over Letters From Iwo Jima star Ken Wantanabe, who was nominated for the Japanese film Memories of Tomorrow, and Asian box office draw Andy Lau, who was up for his role in the multi-national co-pro A Battle of Wits. Best Actress went to Miki Nakatini for her role in Memories of Matsuko.

The Asian Film Awards recognized 33 nominated Asian films nominated in 10 categories. The only fully animated film in contention was Tales From Earthsea, the directorial debut of Goro Miyazaki, son of the highly regarded Japanese animation director Hayao Miyazaki. The movie’s Tamiya Terashima was up for Best Composer but lost to Rahayu Supanggah for Opera Jawa.

The Asian Film Awards is a presentation of the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society, a non-profit, non-government organization which develops, promotes and encourages creativity in the art and culture of film through the annual Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF) and the Hong Kong’Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF). For more information on the awards, go to www.hkiff.org.hk/afa/eng/introduction.htm.