The 29th Annual HK Film Awards were held this weekend at the HK Cultural Center. After watching the awards ceremony broadcast, there were actually quite a few interesting things that I really wanted to blog about. So here goes....
First of all, the fact that the awards ceremony is being broadcast by ATV rather than TVB is already a small victory for me. Not that I had anything to do with this occurring, but I was one of the thousands of viewers who complained about the way TVB ripped the Film Awards broadcast to shreds last year. Basically, when TVB aired last year's broadcast, they did a VERY POOR editing job and as a result, alot of stuff was edited out that really should not have been -- namely, the acceptance speech by Best Actress Paw Hee Ching (because she is contracted with rival ATV on the television side) as well as other "mentions" of rival stations. Frankly, I'm not surprised that TVB would do this because they have a reputation for being PETTY and cannot bear even the slight mention of rival station's names (let alone allowing their actors/actresses to appear on their screens). And of course, they totally ignored the fact that this award ceremony is purely a FILM INDUSTRY event and has nothing to do with TV -- so it doesn't matter which station the winners are from -- they are being recognized for their work in film, NOT in television.
After TVB broadcast the ceremony last year, there was such a huge backlash over what they did -- people both within the industry as well as the general public complained about how disrespectful TVB was to the winners (and rightly so!!!). In response (primarily as a means of damage control), TVB decided to re-broadcoast the show IN ITS ENTIRETY on their HD TV station -- which in my opinion, shows a lack of sincerity because not everyone in HK has HDTV (or is able to afford it), so in a sense, the re-broadcast would have only been available to a small audience. But the thing that upset people most is TVB's lack of remorse for their poor editing job....when they were hounded by the media about the situation, the LAME excuse they gave was: "It was not our intention to edit out ATV related content. The person doing the editing acted on his own -- he did not clearly understand the company's intentions and thought he was doing what was best for the company." YEA, SURE -- BLAME IT ON THE EDITING GUY!! I mean, really -- who does TVB think they are fooling? Do they really expect us viewers to be that stupid and believe that the "editing guy" has THAT much power? And what does it tell us about TVB when they so readily push their employees out there to take the blame when bad things happen so that their stupid management can be absolved of all responsibility? No wonder people don't want to work for them and their turnover rate is so high! (but that's another topic, which I'll save for later)....
Several months ago, during the bidding process for the broadcast rights to this year's ceremony, TVB had the audacity to bid for the show again (probably to save face, since it would look bad for HK's primary TV station not to bid for the event -- plus it would be an admission of wrongdoing if they didn't bid, which is strictly forbidden with them). After reviewing the bids, the HK Film Awards Association decided to grant the broadcast rights to ATV -- primarily because ATV was willing to pay more money for the rights, but also because of what TVB did to the award ceremony broadcast last year (the reps from the Association actually stated this, so it's not an assumption on anyone's part). When ATV received the good news, they took the opportunity to promise that they would air a COMPLETELY UNCUT version of the awards ceremony, no matter what is said during the ceremony (a definite "put-down" of TVB).
So back to this year's awards ceremony.....ATV definitely kept their promise, as they aired the uncut version of the awards ceremony live IN ITS ENTIRETY. In fact, ATV definitely gained alot of points this time around with viewers, as there was mention of TVB almost throughout the entire broadcast (of course, many of the presenters took the chance to poke fun at the situation -- mostly at TVB's expense), and ATV did not edit out anything. The ironic (and funny) part was that one of TVB's top managers -- Virginia Lok -- was in the audience that night and throughout the event, the camera kept panning over to her (probably to see what her reaction would be to all the 'TVB talk') -- so in a sense, Lok was "forced" to appear on ATV throughout the night, thereby doing "free promos" for the rival station (I got such a kick out of this! Knowing how much TVB hates "supporting" rival stations -- Lok herself once pushed away the microphone from a rival station during an interview and "gave them her back")....yet, in this instance, she had to "indirectly" support ATV (LOL!)....
In terms of actual content, I feel that the awards ceremony was nicely done this year. There was alot of talk prior to the ceremony that this year's show lacked "big stars" but I think that was exaggerated because after watching the entire 3 hour broadcast, I saw plenty of "big stars" there -- if the media was referring to the big international stars like Chow Yun Fat, Jackie Chan, Tony Leung, etc., then they are just trying to be picky because honestly, how many awards shows do these stars even show up to nowadays? I mean, with their busy schedules, they're not expected to have time to show up to these shows.
I really liked how the HK Film Awards Association chose Lawrence Cheng Dan Shui to be the host. He was one of the best hosts of the late 80s/early 90s and I haven't seen him host for a long time. As a host, he is definitely more refined, yet still very funny -- the kind of high quality host you would expect at this type of event. To be honest, I was getting tired of Eric Tsang's rowdy, "wu nao" type of hosting, so it was refreshing to see Lawrence bring his signature style of hosting to the event -- at least I don't get the feeling that I'm watching baseless, slapstick-type comedy (which is the perception that I get with Eric's style of hosting) and instead am treated to a higher class of comedy that is more appropriate to the event.
Of course, the endless "references" to TVB was a unique factor to this particular award ceremony, as everyone (guests and winners alike) were taking advantage of the fact that ATV promised a completely UNEDITED broadcast, which meant that everyone could pretty much say anything they wanted. Since this "never happens" with TVB broadcasts, everyone wanted to "test the waters" and see if ATV was going to keep to their word. I personally found it quite humourous because the more they "referred" to TVB, the worse it made TVB look -- because it brings forth TVB's pettiness tenfold.
One of the "references" I especially liked was Dayo Wong's monologue, where at one point he goes: "ATV is so good....they let me talk as long as I want...so how much time do I have left?" This is an indirect "bash" on TVB because during last year's awards ceremony, not only did TVB cut out all references to ATV, they also chopped up people's acceptance speeches (even those who did not refer to ATV) to the point that what the people said did not end up making any sense. Plus they had people at the actual ceremony signaling to the winners to cut their speeches short, so some of the winners either didn't get to speak or had their speeches cut. This year, ATV proved to be very "dai fong" about the whole ceremony -- they let it overrun by 1 hour (and losing money in advertising in the process) because they wanted to honor their promise to viewers of not cutting anything out. TVB, on the other hand, would never do such a thing because they are so greedy that they wouldn't want to lose even a penny in advertising in order to satisfy the viewers -- so they would rather sacrifice the broadcast and screw the viewers rather than lose money (their typical mentality).
All the TVB versus ATV talk aside, one of the highlights of the show for me was the dialogue from the presenters. For me, one of the primary reasons I like to watch these shows is to see who the presenters are and what they will say -- if it was just about the results, there would be no need to watch, since I could just read about it in the papers the next day. My favorite presenters were definitely the duo of Sean Lau and Nick Cheung -- they were presenting the Best Actress Award (which was like the 2nd to last award of the night). I could tell from their banter back and forth that Sean and Nick have a great friendship, as they were able to make fun of each other so comfortably. And forever the actor, I loved how when Sean told his jokes, his face looked so serious, yet he was actually joking the whole time! And Nick had a smile on his face the entire time – even though he was being made fun of by Sean!
Here are some of the excerpts from their hilarious 5 minute dialogue (of course, my paraphrasing below pales in comparison to watching the actual video segment and seeing them in action).
1) Opening dialogue:
-- Sean (to Nick): I found out from the association that they were actually planning to have 4 people present this award: you, me, Anthony Wong, and Francis Ng.
-- Nick (to Sean): So why isn't Anthony here?
-- Sean: Well, the association felt that Anthony is too "old" and "passe", so they booted him out. So what about Francis? I think he's working, right?
-- Nick: Um, Francis is actually in a jailcell somewhere in Lai Chi Kok.
-- Sean: What? I thought they let him out already!
-- Nick: Oh, you didn't hear? This is a different case -- not that same one! (audience laughs)
-- Sean: Hmmm...let's talk about something else....
2) Sean blames Nick for making him lose the Best Actor award and Nick makes fun of Sean's dark skin tone
-- Sean: Actually, I already knew that I would not be able to win the award today.
-- Nick: Why's that?
-- Sean: Because of where I am seated. I noticed that in the past, all of the Best Actor winners were always seated right in the middle -- this year, I'm actually seated way over there on the end (points to the right side of the audience).
-- Nick: Oh.
-- Sean (to the audience): And the other thing I discovered -- if you want to win Best Actor, never sit near Nick Cheung!
-- Nick: (smiles and looks at the audience with quizzical expression on his face)
-- Sean (to Nick): I remember a couple years back, when I was nominated for Best Actor and you were nominated for Best Supporting Actor. You ending up losing the award to someone else -- which of course is expected! But then when you lost, you stayed in your seat for the rest of the show and didn't leave! You were sitting there in that horrific white suit and had this expression on your face -- (bows his head and looks down at the floor with a sad expression on his face). I remember turning around and telling you to leave because you're just going to make me lose.
-- Nick (smiles): Yes, I remember -- at first when I saw a "dark" hand reach over to me, I was moved thinking that someone was sympathizing with me. But then I see that it's you turning around and berrating me for causing you to lose the Best Actor award with my depressed looks. But hey, I was actually just doing you a favor by sitting there! The venue was so dark that if it weren't for MY bright white suit reflecting the lights onto you, no one would have noticed that you even came to the ceremony! (The whole audience laughs and the camera pans over to Sean's wife Amy Kwok, who is also giggling).
There are some more funny parts but it's hard to translate that dialogue (since I wouldn't be able to do justice to it), so just going to leave it at these highlights.
And lastly, I am extremely happy that Simon Yam finally got the Best Actor aaward -- he's been in the industry 34 years and has been nominated multiple times, but the award has always eluded him until now. He is one of the finest actors in the industry and very humble too! His acceptance speech was quite touching as well. Definitely well deserved!