Asian Film Awards: Decision to Leave Heads Nominations List

Park Chan-wook’s noirish romance “Decision to Leave” makes the running in the Asian Film Awards by collecting ten nominations, including best film and best director.

Hamaguchi Ryusuke’s “Drive My Car,” another awards season favorite which also debuted at Cannes, albeit a year earlier, has eight nominations.

Zhang Yimou, the acclaimed mainland Chinese director of “One Second,” “Hero” and “Raise the Red Lantern,” will head a seven-person jury that sorts through the nominated films and decides the winners.

Organizers said that a total of 30 films from 22 countries or territories received 81 nominations in 16 categories.

The final awards will be presented at a ceremony that relocates to Hong Kong, after being held for two years in Busan and was omitted entirely in 2022. The event will take place at the new Hong Kong Palace Museum on March 12, the evening before film and TV rights market FilMart makes its in-person return for the first time since 2019.

The five competing for best film are “Decision to Leave,” “Drive My Car” “Poet,” “Ponniyin Selvan: 1” and “When the Waves Are Gone.”

Competing for best director are Park, “Poet” director Darezhan Omirbayev, Davy Chou (for “Return to Seoul”) and two Japanese Hamaguchi and Kore-eda Hirokazu for “Broker.”

The ten-nomination haul for “Decision to Leave” also includes nods for best screenplay (Chung Seo-kyung and Park), best actor (Park Hae-il), best actress (Tang Wei), best cinematography (Kim Ji-yong), best editing (Kim Sang-beom), best original music (Cho Young Wuk), best production design (Ryu Seong-hie), and best sound (Kim Suk-won).

“Ponniyin Selvan: 1” received a total of six nominations, one of the highest ever hauls achieved by a South Asian title at the AFAs. But other South Asian titles fared less well.

Pakistan’s “Joyland,” which was recently shortlisted by the Oscars in the international film category, picked up only one AFA nomination, for Saim Sadiq, as best new director. Similarly, another Oscars favorite, “RRR” only picked up two AFA nominations. India’s official Oscars candidate “Last Film Show” was omitted.

“Return to Seoul,” which flies the flag for Cambodia and is also on the Oscars’ international film category long list, collected six AFA nominations.

“Before Now and Then,” Indonesian director Kamila Andini’s period drama, which was named best picture at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards in November, collected five AFA nominations.

In terms of nationality, South Korea and Japan led the pack with 17 nominations each. Mainland China had nine nominations for films including “Home Coming,” “Moon Man” “One and Four” and “Lighting up the Stars.” India had eight and Indonesia (“Before Now and Then” and “Autobiography”) seven.

The AFAs are now in their 16th edition. They have operated since 2007 and are jointly backed by the Busan, Tokyo and Hong Kong film festivals.

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