Hong Kong superstar Chow Yun-fat has been named Asian Filmmaker of the Year at the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), becoming the second actor from the city to earn international acclaim in a week.
Announcing the honour on Tuesday, the organiser praised Chow, 68, for his contributions to local cinema and his instrumental role in elevating Hong Kong gangster films to international prominence.
The Asian Filmmaker of the Year award is presented to a professional or organisation in the region deemed to have made the most outstanding contribution to the development of Asian film industry and culture.
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The festival organiser said Chow had led the golden era of Hong Kong cinema and cemented his position as a key player in “Hong Kong film noir” as a global genre.
“Chow’s versatile talent knows no bounds, encompassing action to melodrama and comedy and historical drama, and subsequently established him as the most sought-after actor in Asia.”
Since his debut in 1976, Chow has appeared in some 100 films, with notable works such as The Story of Woo Viet (1981), All About Ah-Long (1989), God of Gamblers (1989), Once a Thief (1991), Curse of the Golden Flower (2006), Let the Bullets Fly (2010) and Project Gutenberg (2018).
He has won three best actor titles at the Hong Kong Film Awards and two at Taiwan’s Golden Horse film awards.
To celebrate Chow’s achievement, the festival will showcase three of his works, including signature pieces A Better Tomorrow (1986) and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), which triumphed at the Oscars, winning the Best Foreign Language Film award in 2001, as well as his latest cinematic endeavor this year, One More Chance.
Often called the “Cannes of Asia”, BIFF has been a cultural landmark known for introducing new talent who have gone on to become leading voices in Asian cinema.
Established in 1996 in the lively southern port city of Busan, South Korea’s second-largest metropolis, the festival’s history mirrors that of the modern Korean film industry, which emerged as an international powerhouse in the late 1990s.
Chow, hailing from Hong Kong’s outlying Lamma Island, is also the second local actor to receive the Asian Filmmaker of the Year honor following Tony Leung Chiu-wai’s win last year.
Leung also came under the global spotlight last week when he became the first Chinese actor to be honored with the prestigious Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Film Festival.
Hong Hong Secretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism Kevin Yeung Yun-hung on Tuesday congratulated Chow on the honour.
“With his outstanding acting skills, Chow plays a diverse repertoire and gives life to many classic characters. He made a name for himself in Hong Kong and even worldwide before successfully making his way to Hollywood, and established his status in the global film industry,” Yeung said.
He also highlighted Chow’s down-to-earth nature and approachability, endearing him to the people of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong actors had earned recognition worldwide by reaping a number of international awards in recent years, Yeung added, vowing the government and the Film Development Council would continue to provide support on various fronts and foster sustainable development of the industry.
Chow is expected to receive the award in person next month.
The 10-day festival starting on October 4 will screen 209 films from 69 countries in its official selection, including 80 world premieres.
More from South China Morning Post:
- ‘Grow old in Hong Kong’: global movie icon Chow Yun-fat tells of love for home city and its ‘charming and arrogant’ Cantonese dialect, thrills fans
- Hong Kong’s Tony Leung pays emotional tribute to city as he becomes first Chinese actor to win Venice Film Festival lifetime achievement award