A South Korean drama about a mother s quest to exonerate her mentally handicapped son from murder allegations shined at the fourth Asian Film Awards on Monday, clinching best picture and top acting honors for veteran performer Kim Hye-ja.
Mother also bagged the best screenplay prize for director Bong Joon-ho and co-writer Park Eun-kyo.
Lu Chuan won best director for City of Life and Death, a grim, black-and-white picture about Japanese atrocities during its World War II-era invasion of China.
Wang Xueqi was named best actor for playing a businessman in imperial China who sympathized with the revolutionary cause in Bodyguards and Assassins. The Teddy Chan kung fu thriller also earned the best supporting actor prize for Hong Kong singer Nicholas Tse.
Best actress went to Wai Ying-hung, who portrayed a single mother whose son faces rape charges in At the End of Daybreak.
Mother producer Moon Yang-kwon said Bong tailored the drama for Kim, a highly revered actress in South Korea.
Kim Hye-ja carries the image of a mother to all South Koreans. So after Bong met her for the first time 15 years ago, he kept thinking about how to make a movie based on her image, Moon said through a translator backstage.
The producer said the film succeeded by making audiences ponder the power of parental love.
The movie posed the question to viewers who are sons and daughters, Will my mother go to such lengths for me? Mothers will ask, Can I sacrifice this way for my children? he said.
Neither Kim nor Bong, best known for his hit 2006 monster thriller The Host, attended Monday s ceremony.
Wang, whose credits also include In the Heat of the Sun and Warriors of Heaven and Earth, thanked his ensemble cast. Bodyguards and Assassins is about a group of men in early 20th century Hong Kong who protect the father of modern China, Sun Yat-sen, from killers dispatched by the empress.
Everyone was outstanding in the movie, but I had a bigger part, so I was just a little luckier, Wang told reporters.
Lu reflected on the difficulty of making a movie that went against the grain of Chinese propaganda. City of Life and Death stirred controversy by examining the Japanese invasion through the eyes of both the aggressor and the victim.
There were many, many difficulties, he said. Chinese history books have been this way for decades, so it takes courage to break convention.
Indian screen legend Amitabh Bachchan received the lifetime achievement award. Raise the Red Lantern director Zhang Yimou was honored for outstanding contribution to Asian cinema and John Woo was named the top-grossing director of 2009 for the second part of his $80 million, two-part Chinese historical epic, Red Cliff.
Introduced by Archie Kao from the hit US TV series C.S.I., Bachchan got a standing ovation.
This isn t the end of the line, I hope. As long as there are challenges in front of me, and as long as there are people who wish to work with me, and as long as I remain healthy, I would like to continue working, said the 67-year-old actor with more than 180 movies to his credit.
Zhang, who designed the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, urged fellow Asian filmmakers to think bigger.
Asian movies and Asian culture should play a bigger role in the world, affect more people and make more people from different countries interested in and pay attention to Asian culture, he said.
Accepting Woo s award on his behalf, producer Terence Chang said, Thank God John Woo and I have survived this movie.
Woo s ambitious project had to endure a last-minute change in cast – Chow Yun-fat dropped out – a stuntman casualty and flooding on the set, but went on to become a huge hit in China, with the two installments combining to earn 570 million Chinese yuan ($83 million). -AP