Crime film hits paydirt as many yearn for awards' better days

Top News | Sophie Hui 7 May 2020

Better Days by young filmmaker Derek Tsang Kwok-cheung was the big winner at the Hong Kong Film Awards, which announced winners through online streaming for the first time.

Top prizes were read out by awards association chairman director Derek Yee Tung-sing - all within 12 minutes and with no fanfare, in contrast to the star-studded affairs of the past.

The ceremony was streamed on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, with tens of thousands tuning in. Youtube alone recorded 18,000.

Yee said it was "regrettable" to see the actual prize presentation canceled this year.

"Although we have changed it to online streaming, we believe that no matter the format, the meaning and status of the Goddess of the Hong Kong Film Awards will not change," he said.

Before opening the final envelope to announce the best film, Yee said a good movie usually has unexpected plots and the characters facing obstacles. "But they usually have a happy ending," he added.

Better Days, a romantic crime film, won eight awards on 12 nominations. The victories include best film, screenplay, cinematography, costume and makeup design, and original film song. Its stars, Zhou Dongyu and Jackson Yee, won best actress and best new performer respectively. Tsang, 40, son of actor Eric Tsang Chi-wai, won best director for the first time.

On Instagram, Tsang said the award is "irreplaceable." He also thanked his film crew, adding he would give the award to his mom as a Mother's Day gift.

Better Days was adapted from the young adult novel In His Mouth, In Her Beauty by Jiu Yuexi, which is about a bullied secondary school girl who befriends a mysterious young man who protects her from assailants and how they change each other's lives.

Actor Tai Bo, 69, who played an elderly gay man in Suk Suk (Uncle), won best actor - also a first for the veteran thespian. He thanked the association, saying it was an honor to receive the award, and that his 20 years of performing in Taiwan had helped him.

But he qualified: "My work in the movie industry started in Hong Kong, and Hong Kong movies have taught me a lot, so it's very meaningful to win an award in Hong Kong."

The film had another winner in Patra Au Ga-man, who won best supporting actress.

Best supporting actor was Cheung Tat-ming for his role in I'm Living It, a movie about people spending nights in a 24-hour fast-food restaurant. It was the first win for the 55-year-old actor and comedian.

But many online users said the awards presentation was "too lazy" as no clips were even shown of any of the nominated movies.

Actor Chapman To Man-chak weighed in on Facebook: "An online show is still a show. It doesn't mean it should be sloppy."

He said it showed no respect to people working in the industry, the winners and nominees, as well as the audience.

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