- The Washington Times - Monday, March 23, 2009

HONG KONG (AP) - Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s “Tokyo Sonata” was named best film at the third Asian Film Awards on Monday in an evening dominated by Japanese filmmakers.

The family drama, which describes the estrangement between a husband, his wife and his children, also won best screenwriter for Kurosawa.

Oscar-winning best foreign movie “Departures” won best actor for Masahiro Motoki, who played an unemployed cellist who confronts social taboo by becoming an expert in the ritual of preparing bodies for burial.

Another Japanese, filmmaker Hirokazu Koreeda, was named best director for “Still Walking.”

Best actress went to China’s Zhou Xun, who played a taxi driver searching for her boyfriend in “The Equation of Love and Death.”

Koreeda, who received his award from “Platoon” director Oliver Stone and “The Last Emperor” star Joan Chen, told reporters backstage “Still Walking” was a personal film because he made it after his mother passed away.

Asked about the Japanese sweep, the director joked, “This it not the Olympics. It’s not like we’re counting the medals.”

But he added, “Japanese film is also Asian film. I’m very happy that Japanese film can cross borders. I hope Asian filmmakers can collaborate with each other.”

Zhou, one of China’s hottest actresses, said she prepared for her role by asking her boyfriend not visit her on set so she could feel lonely, adding that she had a hard time withdrawing from the character.

“I felt a great sense of loss (after finishing the movie),” she told reporters backstage.

Oscar winner William Hurt and producer Arthur Cohn presented the best actor prize to Motoki.

A tearful Wei Te-sheng received the Edward Yang New Talent Award, named after the late Taiwanese director, as Yang’s widow Kaili Peng handed him the award. Speaking to reporters later, Wei, who once worked for Yang, likened the late filmmaker to a father.

Wei became an overnight sensation after the box office success of his Taiwanese romance “Cape No. 7.”

The Nielsen Box Office Award, presented by the trade publication The Hollywood Reporter, went to 25-year-old Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra.

Retired Taiwanese actress Brigitte Lin made a rare public appearance to present the Asian Film Award for Outstanding Contribution to Asian Cinema to veteran Hong Kong director Tsui Hark and his wife, producer Nansun Shi. The couple were honored for the work of their production house Film Workshop Co.

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