Better Days Sweeps 39th Hong Kong Film Awards
By Ashlyn Chak
The 39th Hong Kong Film Awards (HKFA) ceremony, which was moved online due to preventive measures against Covid-19, was livestreamed yesterday at 3pm (GMT+8) on YouTube and Facebook, with live updates on HKFA’s Instagram account. Better Days (2019), a coming-of-age romance by emerging director Derek Tsang Kwok-cheung, won by a landslide, receiving eight prizes including Best Film, Best Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Actress.
The host, film director and chairman of the HKFA Association Derek Yee Tung-sing, after briefly reminding his virtual audience that the spirit of the HKFA remains just as important online, announced the results for all 19 categories within just 11 minutes. Other notable winners included Suk Suk (2019), a love story between two elderly men, which was awarded Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress out of nine nominations, and My Prince Edward (2019), of a woman contemplating about marriage, which took home Best New Director and Best Original Film Score out of eight nominations.
Best Asian Chinese Language Film went to An Elephant Sitting Still (2018), about life in a small Chinese town, written and directed by Hu Bo, who committed suicide at the age of 29 in late 2017, shortly after finishing the film. Following the announcement for this category, Yee expressed his condolences and said that he wished to personally deliver the award to Hu’s family.
Heartwarming family drama Fagara (2019), which accumulated recognition with 11 nominations, was awarded Best Art Direction. Meanwhile, I’m Livin’ It (2019), which spotlit the homeless who shelter at Hong Kong’s McDonald’s, scored Best Supporting Actor out of ten nominations. The highly profitable martial arts franchise Ip Man 4: The Finale (2019) garnered two prizes from the technical categories of action choreography and sound design, out of nine nominations.
All named pictures were given a nod in a three-minute long trailer for HKFA 2020. Edited by local independent filmmakers Alan Lo Wai-lun and Lee Kai-ho, the video wove together snippets of each film to insinuate a political narrative that resonated with the social movement and protests that have dominated the city since mid-2019. Dialogues such as “Humans. . .aren’t we all born to be free?,” “When facing injustice, I must stand up and fight,” and “What if we have tried our best, and the world doesn’t become better?” from the nominated films were strung together amid scenes of flames and other settings alluding to the demonstrations.
One of several local writers who have commented on the trailer, arts critic and cultural scholar Lok Fung, referred to it as “three minutes of world-shaking” that recognized the city’s “pain and hopes, sweat and tears, fear and resistance” like “a mirror that reflects upon the story of Hong Kong.” Media writer and journalist Yau Tai-tung praised the trailer for “belong[ing] to the people of Hong Kong,” and being a “brave message” as many Hong Kong filmmakers work closely with mainland Chinese producers. The most highly rated comments for the YouTube video, which has garnered close to 600,000 views, also conveyed strong support for the movement from Chinese speaking regions such as Mainland China, Taiwan, and Malaysia. However, filmmakers and actors from mainland China, including those whose films were featured in the trailer, have largely been silent on the clip.
Ashlyn Chak is an editorial intern of ArtAsiaPacific.
To read more of ArtAsiaPacific’s articles, visit our Digital Library.