NEW DELHI: The Lunchbox by Ritesh Batra may have failed to make it to the Academy nominations but it figures prominently in the nominations for the Asian version of the Oscars — the 8th Asian Film Awards.
The awards are to be presented on 27 March at a ceremony to be held at the City of Dreams casino resort in Macau, and the nominations were announced in Hong Kong over the weekend.
The Lunchbox has been nominated for the best film award and Ritesh Batra has been nominated for the best screenplay while actor Irrfan Khan is in the list of best actor awards.
The only other Indian film to make it to the nominations is Bhag Milka Bhag by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, the music composers of which – Shankar Ehsaan Loy – have been nominated for best music category.
Renowned filmmaker Wong Kar-wai’s The Grandmaster topped with eleven nominations including best film and best director out of 14 categories. The highly stylised martial arts drama opened the Berlin festival this time last year.
After being organised by the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society Limited (HKIFF) for the past seven years, this year’s award is being organised by the new Asian Film Awards Academy (AFAA), a combined effort between the Hong Kong International Film Festival, the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), and the Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF).
Competing closely with Wong Kar-wai is Korean director Bong Joon Ho’s sci-fi fantasy Snowpiercer with five nominations including best film and best director.
A total of 28 films from ten countries and regions have been nominated this year from over a thousand eligible films. Hong Kong films have the most nominations with a total of 19 shared between The Grandmaster (11 nominations), Rigor Mortis (4 nominations), Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon (3 nominations) and The Way We Dance (1 nomination).
Films from South Korea and Japan are tied at 14 nominations each. In addition to the five recognitions for Snowpiercer, the nominated South Korean films are Cold Eyes (4 nominations), The Attorney (3 nominations), Mr. Go (1 nomination) and The Face Reader (1 nomination).
The 14 nominations for films from Japan are shared between The Great Passage (3 nominations), Like Father, Like Son (3 nominations), Why Don't You Play in Hell? (3 nominations), Tokyo Family (2 nominations), Backwater (1 nomination), and The Ravine of Goodbye (1 nomination).
HKIFF’s chairman Wilfred Wong is Chairman of the AFAA committee, which also includes BIFF's Lee Yong-kwan and TIFF's Shiina Yasushi.
Director Peter Chan is serving as this year’s jury president, with Donnie Yen joining as a "celebrity jury" member. The two are joined by the Philippines’ Ronald Arguelles, Indonesia’s John Badalu, Japan's Ishizaaka Kenji, France's Christian Jeune, Singapore's Eric Khoo, South Korea's Lee Yong-kwan, Thailand's Kong Rithdee, Taiwan's Wen Tien-hsiang as well as Hong Kong's Jacob Wong and Patricia Cheng.
"Each industry, although successful commercially, is becoming more and more localised, catering to the taste of local audiences. As a result there are fewer channels for crossover distribution outside local markets. I think AFA is not only important in its celebration of Asian film and filmmakers, but an event that can bring Asian films together," says Chan.
For the first time this year, the award ceremony has been moved to a venue outside of Hong Kong, to a casino resort in neighbouring Macau. While the ceremony is traditionally held on the first day of the Hong Kong FilMart, this year's ceremony will be held on 27 March, the final day of this year's film market.