Sunday, April 3, 2016

My Thoughts on this year’s HK Film Awards

Not surprisingly, the HKFA was one award ceremony I absolutely was anticipating this year – main reason is of course my idol Jacky Cheung garnering a Best Actor nomination for his role in Heaven in the Dark (and unlike previous years, he was one of the hot favorites this time around).  My other reason for watching was for Sean Lau, as he’s one of my favorite actors and this is actually his first time hosting the awards (director and HKFA association chairman Derek Yee said that it took much persuasion to get Sean to agree to host).

I’m sure everyone has read the results of the HKFA and know who the winners are by now, so I’m not going to bother listing out the winners.  Instead, I am just going to focus on the categories that I actually cared about as well as the highlights (and low lights) of the ceremony this year.

First up – Best Actor (though ironically this was one of the last awards presented last night).  Jacky obviously didn’t win Best Actor (Aaron Kwok won for his role in Port of Call) – if he had won, this post definitely would’ve started with a scream of excitement, lol.  While I’m a little bit disappointed that Jacky didn’t win, I was surprisingly not too upset about it, since I sort of anticipated it already (Jacky just doesn’t have the luck when it comes to film awards).  Of course, us fans were hoping that the 6th time’s the charm (he was nominated for HKFA Best Actor 5 times previously), but unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be. Well, awards are very much about luck and timing and in a way, all stars need to be aligned, so over the years, I’ve learned not to put too much emotion or attach too much significance to awards.  Whether he ever wins the BA award or not, Jacky will always be Best Actor in my heart and I will always support him!

Even though Jacky didn’t win Best Actor, he did win the Best Dressed award alongside his Heaven in the Dark partner Karena Lam, which I felt was well-deserved because he did look extremely handsome last night.  The expression on Jacky’s face when his name was announced was absolutely priceless – he was obviously very surprised!

Outside of the Best Actor category, the other category I was interested in was Best Picture.  I was actually a bit surprised that Ten Years won given how controversial the movie was, plus the great lengths that Mainland China went to in efforts to suppress the film -- including pulling strings behind the scenes to get all movie theaters to quietly ‘remove’ the film from showing after it became such a surprise hit, as well as Mainland’s latest move of ‘banning’ the HKFA ceremony itself due to Ten Years being nominated  (the awards show is usually aired live in Mainland every year, but this year, they released a statement saying that the show won’t be broadcast in China at all).  Ten Years is actually one of the movies on my ‘must watch’ list and I was super-happy that it had gotten a nomination at HKFA, though to be honest, I was like 99% sure that it wouldn’t actually win the award, since, in recent years, much of the HK entertainment industry has been reluctant to take on Mainland China head-on, so I figured the HKFA would continue along those same lines and not take the risk of doing something that is widely considered as slapping Mainland China in the face.  Well, I was wrong and boy am I glad!  This film went through so much and I’m happy that it was able to overcome all the obstacles it did.  With that said though, the movie still faces a difficult road ahead, but hopefully its HKFA win can help the movie in this area.  The producer was indeed correct when he stated in his acceptance speech that the award actually belongs to all the audiences who supported the film, as they were the ones who turned the previously unknown controversial independent film into a runaway hit.  For me though, I actually applaud the HKFA committee members for being so brave and not letting politics influence their decision this time around.  Congrats to the cast and crew of Ten Years for a well-deserved win!

Oh and one thing I just had to mention – I saw a lot of comments from pro-China supporters slamming the HKFA and there were quite a few netizens as well as other members of the general public who were ‘pissed’ that Ten Years won and felt it was ‘undeserving’ due to its status as an independent film with a largely unknown cast and ‘no name’ new directors, plus its hugely controversial subject matter.  My response to that is – those people’s comments can be ignored because it’s obvious their comments are politically-motivated and they don’t have a clue what movies or artistic creativity are about.  If they want to take the HK vs Mainland China thing so seriously (I agree with the sentiment that a lot of times, it’s really Mainland that is making the conflict bigger than it really needs to be), then they are the ones truly missing out.  They don’t see us Hong Kongers complaining when Mainland actors and actresses take home the Best Actor and Actress trophies, even when we feel our actors/actresses are more deserving, do they??

Ok, so onto the actual ceremony itself….

Here are my favorite moments from this year’s ceremony:

-          Sean Lau’s hosting:  he was great!  For someone who doesn’t like to talk, he did a pretty good job for his first time.   And yes, it was super-sweet that his wife Amy Kwok attended the ceremony just to support her husband (aww, love this couple).  I also got a kick out of Sean’s buddy Nick Cheung ‘teasing’ him throughout the ceremony – I actually feel that Nick was the one who laughed the loudest at all of Sean’s jokes, haha.

-          The segment where so many former child actors went on stage to talk about the first film they acted in and how old they were at the time.  At first, I actually thought this was only a ‘tribute’ segment to child actors, which was very appropriate given this year’s HKFA theme, but it turned out this was a ‘2-in-1’ thing where all of those artists remained onstage to present the Best Director award.  I enjoyed seeing so many of those former child actors again, especially the veteran artists who started back in the 1950s and are still active in the industry even now – really admire their dedication to the HK film industry!  For me, the other highlight was definitely seeing John Chiang and Paul Chun together on the same stage – the first thought that went through my mind in seeing them was how great it would be if their brother Derek Yee (who was nominated for Best Director that night) was up there too?  The Chiang family is one of my (and my family’s) favorite entertainment industry families, so I of course was happy to see Paul, John, and Derek together on the same awards show.  Now of course Derek Yee didn’t end up winning (Tsui Hark won instead for The Taking of Tiger Mountain), but it was still an enjoyable – and extremely rare – moment that I will cherish.  [Sidenote:  I also found it so sweet that Benji and Lesley attended the ceremony to support their dad Paul Chun – when he came out on stage, the camera panned over to Benji and Lesley, who were recording the moment with their cell phones…aww, so sweet!  Love this family!]

-          Another presenter moment I enjoyed was when McDull (from the McDull cartoon series) and Wu Ba (from the HK hit movie Monster Hunt) went onstage to present the award for Best Visual Effects.  Both of them were soooo cute!!  And whoever ‘scripted’ their speech did a pretty good job, as their speech was cute and also got quite a few laughs from the audiences. 

-          Andy Lau presenting the Best Newcomer and Best New Director awards alongside the 5 adorable little girls from the movie Little Big Master was also a nice touch.  I actually like it when they have little kids as presenters because it just makes the atmosphere so much lighter and happier (plus everyone is so much more forgiving when the presenters screw up their speeches).

-          I had fun with the segment where Jacky and Nick presented the awards for Best Screenplay and Best Action Choreography.  They continued to play off their ‘real-life brothers’ relationship right from the getgo, with Nick introducing himself as Jacky.  Throughout their presentation speech, they just kept acting silly, even dragging Sean into it at one point (of course, since Sean is one of Nick’s close friends, lol).  Jacky and Nick also sat together off-stage as well and there was a lot of interaction between them, which was of course expected given their close friendship.  And I swear, based on the number of times the camera panned over to Jacky and Nick, the camera man must be a fan of theirs or something, haha! 

-          Best presentation speech in my opinion goes to Carina Lau, who presented the award for Best Actor.  She did a great job livening the atmosphere and in my opinion, gave a speech that was both witty and fun – she got a lot of well-deserved applause and chuckles, which was definitely needed given that the Best Actor award was the second to last award of the night and everyone had been sitting there for 3 hours straight already.  Good job Carina!

-          Best acceptance speech in my opinion goes to the production team of Ten Years.  As a Hong Konger, I was actually quite moved by their speech, especially the part where they said that the last thing on their minds was that the movie would do well or get any awards – their intention was just to do a little something for HK, their hometown and a city they love.  And both producers humbly acknowledged that their film doesn’t measure up to the others in terms of technical standards (of course, since Ten Years was a low-budget independent film whereas all the others were big-budget commercial films), so they were all the more grateful that the HKFA recognized their efforts.

Concluding thoughts:  Aside from the issue of not very many ‘big stars’ attending the ceremony outside of the nominees (which, to be honest, has been an ‘issue’ with the HKFAs for like the past decade already), this year’s HKFA ceremony still ended up being one of the better HKFA shows the past few years in my opinion.  I enjoyed watching this ceremony more than any other awards show this year.

Congrats to all the winners and hopefully next year will see the emergence of more great films!


  1. Yes a lot of pro china people including EA's Peter Lam and RaymondWongBakMing saying crap about how it doesn't deserve. These people know nothing about art if they think best movie needs to be a grand production. The closely related to society issues of Ten years reminds me of teh famous US movie Crash about the stereotype of race and the conflicts between them, that also won many awards that year at Oscars while not being a high budget film.

    1. @sport: The way I see it, Raymond Wong’s comments are absurd and can largely be ignored, as 1) he hasn’t even seen the movie Ten Years (he was the one who admitted that he never saw the movie – yet he’s dissing the movie as being horribly made and undeserving…hmmmm), and 2) he’s just bitter that his movie Ip Man 3 – a big budget commercial film with big name cast – lost out to a low budget independent film with no name cast (and helmed by newbie directors to boot).  To me, it’s more of a ‘face’ thing for him. 


      As for Peter Lam’s comments – well, they are even more absurd, as his ‘definition’ of what type of movies ‘deserve’ to win Best Film is ridiculous.  According to him (this is based on the comments that he made against Ten Years), in order to win, the film must be nominated in more than 1 category, must be big budget collaboration with big name stars, and must have big box office.  Ten Years doesn’t fulfill that criteria, so obviously it didn’t deserve to win in his opinion.  And that Daniel Lam Siu Ming – who is not even a movie-maker, but rather an investor in films -- is threatening to boycott the HKFA, which is even more ludicrous.  He’s a sore loser as well, since the movie he invested in (Little Big Master) also lost to Ten Years.

      It’s interesting that people who made the movie that most likely would’ve won Best Film if Ten Years wasn’t in the running (that movie being Port of Call, which already won Best Film at other awards ceremonies) not only did not complain or criticize the HKFA’s decision, they actually support it.  Port of Call’s director Philip Yung actually said that he welcomes HKFA’s decision and admires the HKFA committee for not backing down in the face of pressure.  He also said that the film industry is a creative industry and there shouldn’t be restrictions placed on it, whether political, social, etc.  Honestly, Philip Yung’s comments make the other guys look even more like sore losers!

      I agree that most of the industry is in it mostly for the money and doesn’t really give a crap about the arts or the industry itself.  It’s actually quite obvious from this whole Ten Years HKFA fallout which people actually support the arts and which people just care about the money.  I’m happy that Johnnie To made the comments he did, though I’m not surprised that he would support the HKFA’s decision, since he’s been working with a lot of newbie directors in recent years (including one of the directors from the Ten Year’s team) and has been big on grooming the next generation of filmmakers.  I know some people don’t like Johnnie To because of his personality and the fact that he doesn’t have a problem with saying what he thinks and being harsh with his criticism, but to me, he is a great filmmaker and has done more for the HK film industry than all of those other directors combined.  I’ve always had a certain amount of respect for him, but now I respect him even more!

    2. LOL dissing a film without even watching it what a joke. As for Peter Lam's comments, completely shows why HK movies are in the dumpsters right now. Big cast and budget doesn't means best movie it just means big investors and willing to spend money. How many times have we seen these movies with horrid storylines and flop. Just ask those who produced the American movie Blackhat and how much money they lost lol.

  2. People who only care about China's money who doesn't care about making movies that HongKongers actually want to watch can retire from the Hong Kong movie scene and just move to China completely! They don't care about making creative and bold topics just crappy outdated movies that mainlanders will eat up no matter what just cause of the cast.

    1. @sport: You should read this (sorry don't have time to translate it into English). It's an interview that Sina did with Johnnie To....

      You know, it’s interesting.  It’s well-known in the industry that Johnnie To dislikes the HKFA and disagrees with the way they determine award winners.  Yet, unlike the other industry people who have been bashing HKFA for awarding  Ten Years the Best Film award, he hasn’t jumped on the bandwagon to bash HKFA.  Instead, he said that each awards ceremony has their own rules and he may not like it, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be allowed to exist.  He doesn’t like HKFA, so he doesn’t participate and doesn’t attend the ceremony, but he views this as a purely personal matter and doesn’t try to force his views on others.  Towards Ten Years’ win, he didn’t reply directly about the film, but he did say this:  some people claim certain movies don’t deserve to win Best Film due to the lack of quality (meaning technical and/or artistic merit) – well, to him this is a bunch of BS because that’s not what people should be looking at when they judge movies – what they should be looking at is the type of message that the movie sends as well as its impact on audiences.  This is actually EXACTLY how I feel when it comes to determining whether a movie is ‘good’ or not and it’s the same argument I brought out in defense of Ten Years winning Best Film.  Johnnie To also said that he is happy to see the emergence of younger filmmakers who are passionate about their craft -- he hopes to see more of the younger generation exercising their creativity and being able to have their own thoughts when it comes to filmmaking.

      It’s definitely very refreshing to hear such a renown, influential filmmaker express such sentiments.  The HK film industry needs more people like Johnnie To – true filmmakers who are passionate about their craft and don’t care what other people say or think about them, and are also not afraid to speak their minds.  In addition, Johnnie To doesn’t ‘sell-out’ to anyone – he will play by the rules of the game if he has to, but if he doesn’t like the rules or thinks they are overbearing or unfair, he will just remove himself from the game, simple as that. 

    2. Thanks llwy12, I already watched his interview on Apple Daily. To think Peter Lam still didn't shut his mouth after it referring the results as losing to a bowl of wonton noodles. SMH :/ Johnnie To even as respect from other foreign directors who loves his realistic and detailed gang movies. Always had respect for him and now I have even more respect minus his infamous swearing and yelling of course.

  3. By the way llwy12 if you ever find a link to watch 10years please let me know. I've been wanting to watch that movie ever since I knew Catherine Chau had a supporting role? in it; just not sure where. 10 Years had the same impact as TVMost both are able to gain so much love from Hong Kongers that they're will to sit on the streets just to watch it with a bunch of strangers!! That's something those tailored to mainland market China movies can never ever do!

    1. @sport: Sorry for the delay in responding…too much going on lately, lol. Regarding the link to watch Ten years online – someone on JS actually asked that as well and this was my response: So far, there isn’t an option to watch online. I actually asked one of the Ten Years organizers on FB and they said for right now, there are no plans to show the movie online, since they’re working on getting the movie screened internationally and at various film festivals. Of course, there are probably options out there to watch ‘unofficial’ versions of the movie, but personally, I prefer to wait for the ‘official’ version released by the actual Ten Years team.

      One bit of news I found out today is that the directors would like to release a DVD version of the film prior to distributing the film online, which makes sense from a financial standpoint, since up to this point, they’ve been showing the movie free-of-charge at various local venues around HK due to the ‘ban’ on the movie in mainstream HK theaters. I’m actually happy to hear this news because previously there was talk about not being able to release on DVD, then a distributer picked up the film and DVD plans were back in motion – now with the HKFA win, the film might get even more opportunities, which is definitely a good thing!

    2. Thanks for the replay llwy12! Looks like someone uploaded it to youtube and got backlash from the creators of Ten Years. From this news it looks like it will be available for purchase on iTunes as well? I hope so don't want buy the physical dvd, just buying the file would be good enough and saves space.

    3. @sport:  You're welcone!

      This news article is actually a para-phrasing of the statement that Ten Year’s production team posted on their Facebook page – you’re actually better off reading the original statement in its entirety rather than Apple’s paraphrased version, especially since they left out a bunch of stuff in their version.

      One important thing to note is that the version of the movie uploaded to Youtube was incomplete – meaning that it wasn’t the ‘full’ version that was originally released in theaters.  That in itself is already a problem, as who wants to watch an incomplete, bootleg version (I know I don’t!).  Now that the movie won Best Film, the DVD release piece is pretty much guaranteed to be a reality, so the team will definitely need to protect the rights to the film。

      By the way…I didn’t see any mention of iTunes in the article?  Not sure what gave you that idea?  Maybe I missed something when reading the article?  In any case, as much as I really really want to watch this movie, I am going to patiently wait for the production team to release the ‘official’ version – whether it’s online or on DVD, doesn’t matter to me, as I will still watch regardless.

  4. @sport: Here's my response to our chatbox discussion...

    I’m actually not surprised about the court's decision, as we all know the government’s attitude toward HKTV. To be honest, I’ve already gotten to the point where I don’t expect the HK govt to do anything right, so I kind of stopped caring already. No doubt that the government had a hand in the decision. Ironically, Commerce minister Gregory So attended ViuTV’s launch ceremony yesterday and when asked about the status of HKTV’s second license application, he said that the Communications Authority had already submitted their ‘recommendation’ (not to be confused with ‘approval’) to the Chief Executive and Executive Council back in January (so almost 3 months ago), but there is no specific timeline on when the CE needs to make his decision regarding the licenses. Based on this, despite receiving the CA’s recommendation in January, I have a feeling that CY Leung was holding off on making any type of decision until the court made their announcement because now, he has sufficient ammo and ‘backing’ to deny HKTV once again. It could very well be that we might get a decision on the licenses from the government earlier than expected (perhaps some time in the next couple months).

    In terms of whether I think HKTV has any chance at getting a license, even after CY leaves office – my answer is no. I honestly don’t think it makes a difference anymore. Not sure if you’ve noticed, but HK has gotten to the point where everyone – especially those in government – feels the need to practice self-censorship in order to please China. The reality is that HK is under China rule now and as much as they claim it is still “2 systems”, that is only in principle and not in practice. Just like with everything else that has been happening in HK as of late, people are going to do what they “think” China wants because that is the ‘safest’ route to take. I truly do believe that China never gave CY any instruction on whether to issue HKTV a license – in fact, I honestly don’t think they even care about HKTV, as they have bigger things to worry about. With that said though, they still have some responsibility in that CY was likely trying to ‘interpret’ what China would want him to do in this situation and came to the conclusion that denying HKTV was the safest bet – after all, from his (and the HK government in general)’s perspective, it’s better to piss off 1 TV station and the general HK public than to piss off the CCP and all of China. Even after CY leaves office (IF he does, that is), the incoming CE will probably maintain the same train of thought (unless by some miracle, those dissident political groups manage to get one of their candidates into the CE seat, which I highly doubt, as, by the looks of things, the CCP is getting more and more ticked off with the rebellion in HK, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they take some type of drastic action in the near future).

    1. I wouldn't go as far to say the Government had a hand in the judicial system and the subsequent outcome from the judges. The law is one of those things that can be interpreted in different ways and the official response wasn't illogical and out of line.

      I don't think Ricky Wong should file an appeal to the High Court because that will just hinder the processing of its second application which the government can use the excuse of ongoing court case. But saying that I don't think it will get processed any time soon and neither will a decision be made on it within CY's term in office.

      Honestly from an outsider's point of view it is probably smarter to approve HKTV's application and appease the general public to stop the revolt of the HK people which China is getting increasingly unhappy about. This was basically the strategy the British used and it worked. Honestly the strategy they are using of trying to self censor and 'become' the same as China is backfiring immensely. If they just approved the license, appease the general public and maintain a facade of peace (even though in reality China is taking over), it's probably a lot smarter way to go about it, so people won't notice the change in who is taking over control. Because to be honest, China really doesn't have a problem with Ricky Wong and I doubt actually care about this at all.

    2. @Anonymous: I actually agree with you regarding your comment that Ricky Wong shouldn’t file an appeal. To me, it’s pretty much useless at this point, as it’s pretty obvious that the government doesn’t want Ricky Wong/HKTV to get a license. It would just be further waste of time and money and the result will likely still be the same, so what’s the point? Also, the point that you mentioned about another court case delaying his second application further is very valid, as we already saw what happened in the past with why the first application that HKTV filed (along with i-Cable and NowTV’s applications) took so long to process – it was because of pending court cases resulting from the judicial reviews that both TVB and ATV had filed at the time against the government’s decision to open up the television market. Back then, those applications were barely even looked at until AFTER those court cases were settled. By the way, last year when Ricky Wong lost his court case against the government over mobile TV transmissions, he decided not to appeal that decision (I don’t recall reading whether he gave reasons why though) – so there’s a possibility he won’t appeal this one either (even though he stated verbally that he intends on appealing – highly possible he might change his mind later).

      I also completely agree with your entire last paragraph. Indeed, if CY Leung were smart, he would just approve HKTV’s application instead of risk incurring the wrath of the HK people more – you would think it would be even more critical to do so now given how so many people in HK hate him, so it would actually be good PR for him to do something right for a change. Also, with today’s post-Occupy highly tense political environment, no doubt that the radical groups in HK (i.e. those who orchestrated and/or participated in the Mongkok riots) are just waiting for CY Leung to make another stupid ‘self-censorship’ move so they can blame it on China and use it as an excuse to start another revolt (especially since most of the people involved in those groups already said that they have no problems resorting to violence to get their point across if need be). With that said, I highly doubt that CY Leung is going to do the right thing and approve HKTV’s license given his track record since he took office several years ago. He seems to take pride in the fact that he can act like a jerk (I had wanted to use a curse word actually but decided against it, lol) and go against everything the HK public wants because he has the backing for his position from Mainland China (it’s pretty obvious from CY Leung’s speeches and responses to issues etc that he thinks extremely highly of himself). And I honestly don’t’ think he gives a care what happens to HK – he’s just in it for money, power, and prestige – so even if he ends up running HK into the ground (which is pretty much what he has already done), he will undoubtedly walk away from it without batting an eye or even feeling an iota of guilt for all the bad decisions he’s made.

  5. Thanks for the input llwy12 and anonymous. I also don't think China has issue with HKTV. They have bigger stuff to worry about like the Panama Papers ahem. Anyway I do hope that the next CE will give HKTV a license and less of a jerk than CY.