With two films, Zhang Yimou leads Asian Film Awards nominations

By Edmund Lee
Yu Aoi (right) and Masahiro Higashide in a still from Wife of a Spy, directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa.

Chinese director Zhang Yimou is the nominal front runner for the 15th Asian Film Awards, leading the field with a combined 11 nominations for his two latest films, One Second and Cliff Walkers.

While the spy thriller Cliff Walkers has the most nominations – six, of which four are in the technical categories – it is Zhang’s homage to cinema set during China’s Cultural Revolution, One Second, that is in contention for the top prizes such as best picture, best director and best actor.

One Second’s five nominations are matched by Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s World War II drama Wife of a Spy, another nominee for best picture. That category is rounded out by Korean historical film The Book of Fish (with four nominations); Indian music drama The Disciple (with two), winner for best screenplay at the 2020 Venice International Film Festival; and Japanese anthology Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy (also with two nominations), the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize winner at 2021 the Berlin Film Festival.

Hong Kong cinema is represented by three films: Soi Cheang Pou-soi’s as-yet-unreleased crime thriller Limbo, up for four awards, including a best actor nomination for Lam Ka-tung; the poverty drama Drifting, whose stars Tse Kwan-ho and Loletta Lee Lai-chun are nominated for best supporting actor and actress; and dance sequel The Way We Keep Dancing, for best original music.

Liu Haocun in a still from Cliff Walkers, nominated in six categories at the Asian Film Awards.

The winners of the 2021 Asian Film Awards will be decided by a jury headed by Korean filmmaker Lee Chang-dong, the AFA’s lifetime award recipient in 2019; they will be announced on October 8 at a hybrid ceremony, which combines on-site attendance in Busan, South Korea – in conjunction with the Busan International Film Festival – and online participation.

The full list of nominations is as follows:

Best film

One Second (China), The Book of Fish (South Korea), The Disciple (India), Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy (Japan), Wife of a Spy (Japan)

Fan Wei (left) and Zhang Yi in a still from One Second.

Best director

Zhang Yimou (One Second), Lee Joon-ik (The Book of Fish), Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy), Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Wife of a Spy), Adilkhan Yerzhanov (Yellow Cat)

Best actor

Mo Tzu-yi (Dear Tenant), Lam Ka-tung (Limbo), Zhang Yi (One Second), Koji Yakusho (Under the Open Sky), Yoo Ah-in (Voice of Silence)

Best actress

Chen Shu-fang (Little Big Women), Zhang Zifeng (Sister), Jun Jong-seo (The Call), Assel Sadvakassova (Ulbolsyn), Yu Aoi (Wife of a Spy)

Lam Ka-tung and Liu Cya in a still from Limbo.

Best supporting actor

Yu Ailei (Cliff Walkers), Park Jeong-min (Deliver Us From Evil), Tse Kwan-ho (Drifting), Kim Hyun-bin (The Silent Forest), Shohei Uno (The Voice of Sin)

Best supporting actress

Qin Hailu (Cliff Walkers), Loletta Lee (Drifting), Hsieh Ying-xuan (Little Big Women), Jang Yoon-ju (Three Sisters), Aju Makita (True Mothers)

Best new director

Yujiro Harumoto (A Balance), P.S. Vinothraj (Pebbles), Yin Ruoxin (Sister), Han Shuai (Summer Blur), Ahmad Bahrami (The Wasteland), Hong Eui-jeong (Voice of Silence)

Aoba Kawai (left) and Fusako Urabe in a still from Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy.

Best newcomer

Gong Seung-yeon (Aloners), Misaki Hattori (Midnight Swan), Liu Haocun (One Second), Rouhollah Zamani (Sun Children), Chen Yan-fei (The Silent Forest)

Best screenplay

My Missing Valentine, Sister, The Disciple, Voice of Silence

Best editing

Cliff Walkers, Deliver Us From Evil, My Missing Valentine, Sun Children, True Mothers

A still from The Disciple.

Best cinematography

Any Crybabies Around?, Cliff Walkers, Deliver Us From Evil, Limbo, The Wasteland, Yellow Cat

Best original music

Cliff Walkers, Deliver Us From Evil, One Second, The Way We Keep Dancing

Best costume design

Cliff Walkers, Space Sweepers, The Book of Fish, Wife of a Spy, Yellow Cat

A still from The Book of Fish.

Best production design

A Writer’s Odyssey, Labyrinth, Limbo, The Book of Fish, Wife of a Spy

Best visual effects

A Writer’s Odyssey; My Missing Valentine; Ora, Ora Be Goin’ Alone; Space Sweepers; The Eight Hundred

Best sound

Any Crybabies Around?, Labyrinth, Limbo, Space Sweepers, The Eight Hundred

(From left) Jin Seon-kyu, Kim Tae-ri, Song Joong-ki and Yoo Hai-jin in a still from Space Sweepers.

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