HK Entertainment News Roundup
Sunday, May 23, 2004
Maggie Cheung won but Asian cinema misses Palme d'Or.

Maggie Cheung poses with her prize.

CANNES, France : Asian cinema may have missed the jackpot, the Palme d'Or, but was still a winner of the 2004 Cannes film festival, taking home honours and basking consistently in the limelight during the 12-day bonanza.

When it came down to the wire, politics nudged art off centre-stage, giving Michael Moore's anti-Bush documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" top prize over the film all the critics were talking about -- Chinese movie "2046" by cult Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai.

South Korea is one of the few countries outside the United States where domestic productions outnumber foreign films in box-office takings, and "Old Boy" by director Park Chan-wook, the Cannes runner-up that won the Grand Prize, has been one of the country's biggest hits.

Asians walked home with Best Actress, Best Actor, the runner-up Grand Prize and a shared special award for Thailand's first-ever bid at the Palme.

After almost missing its deadline for screening at Cannes, "2046" took Cannes by storm. It was the most-liked movie by a worldwide panel of critics listed in the film industry magazine Screen International.

The same panel was cool about Thailand's debut Cannes film, "Tropical Malady" by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, though the jury, along with a few French critics, were over the moon over the two-part avant-garde tale featuring gay romance and a walk through the night jungle on the tracks of a mythical tiger.

The much talked-about "Flying Daggers" is Chinese auteur Zhang Yimou's second foray into the popular epic martial arts after "Hero" of 2002. Also at Cannes and also liked was Johnnie To's action movie "Breaking News."

Asian film, which is grabbing an ever-growing share of Cannes, festival after festival, this year accounted for six of the 18 films competing to win the coveted Palme d'Or trophy.

On the acting front, performers from Asia hogged the screen.

Maggie Cheung gave an emotionally-strong performance as a junkie pop-star mother in "Clean" directed by her French ex-husband and was rewarded with a Best Actress prize. "He is the director who understands me the most," she said. "Because you know we were very close."

The 39-year-old Chinese actress, who has starred in several films by Wong Kar-wai, notably in the 2000 movie "In The Mood For Love", made a name in the West in 1992 in "New China Woman".

A Japanese film about four small children deserted by their mother and left to fend for themselves -- "Nobody Knows" by Hirokazu Koreeda -- was listed as one of the favourites at the end of the fest and its teenage star Yagira Yuuya was named Best Actor.

"It was the fruit of a whole year of work with these children," said Koreeda on accepting the award on behalf of the boy, now 14 years of age.

News from and AFP.

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