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Saturday, Jun 10, 2023

Controversial schoolgirl documentary won HK Film Awards' best picture

Controversial schoolgirl documentary won HK Film Awards' best picture

Controversial documentary To My Nineteen Year Old Self was crowned best film in Hong Kong's most prestigeous movie award in a shocking turn two months after the movie was pulled from cinemas following complaints from the filmed schoolgirls on privacy infringement.
The movie -- directed by Mabel Cheung Yuen-ting and William Kwok Wai-lun to record the growth of six students of Ying Wa Girls' School -- was also nominated for best director and best film editing. The film was taken down after four days of screening at cinemas.

No clips from the film was played when announcing the nominees at the 41st Hong Kong Film Awards at Hong Kong Cultural Centre on Sunday night.

The documentary won best picture by the Hong Kong Film Critics Society before the controversy broke out.

Cheung was sick and absent from the ceremony. Co-director Kwok said on stage that the award was a recognition for the documentary.

“Don’t be afraid, don’t worry, and don’t stop rolling. Record, edit, and release the film, then worry about what happens later,” he said.

Speaking on behalf Cheung, a representive said: “We were able to witness the growth of a group of young girls, and saw how education and family affected our society.”

The documentary's surprise win outshined thrillers Sparring Partner and Detective VS Sleuths, which were tipped to win the best film award.

Sammi Cheng Sau-man was crowned Best Actress for portraying a sorrowful mother who lost her son to a heart disease in Lost love.

The 50-year-old singer-actress broke into tears as she accepted the award for the first time on her 10th nomination.

“Finally I'm not just sitting downstage. I'm so happy,” she said.

Eleventh-time nominee Sean Lau Ching-wan, 59, won best actor for the third time for his role as a top cop in action thriller Detective VS Sleuthes.

“I thank you all for supporting Hong Kong films,” he said.

The film's director Wai Ka-fai also won best director.

Earlier, Oscar-winning actress Michelle Yeoh Choo Kheng told acting newbies to “work hard and never give up,” after she was welcomed by a long applause in a celebratory return as an award presenter at the event on Sunday night.

The ceremony started at 7.30pm at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui, after the star-studded red carpet session from 4.30pm.

The 60-year-old Yeoh showed up in a golden dress as the final guest to walk the red carpet, a month after she made history and became the first Asian to win Oscar's Best Actress with her performance in Hollywood film Everything Everywhere All At Once.

She presented the Best New Performer to Sahal Zaman as the first prize given out on Sunday night.

Speaking in Cantonese, the actress, who is from Malaysia but rose to fame for her roles in Hong Kong films, said: “You've made me very happy and I'm touched. Greetings to you all. I'm Michelle Yeoh. I'm so happy the award organizer gave me this opportunity to come back to this stage.”

She thanked the audience for their love and support.
“I feel that I'm a suitable presenter for this award. The first nomination I've ever got was best new performer for 'Yes, Madam' in 1986,” she said.

Giving advice to actors and actresses, Yeoh said: “As long as we fight and work hard with perseverance, and never give up, dreams do come true.”

She then presented the award to 10-year-old actor Sahal Zaman for his performance in The Sunny Side of the Street.

The child actor, also the first Southeast Asian winning the category, thanked the movie's director Lau Kok-rui and fellow actor Anthony Wong Chau-sang, who played the role of a taxi driver who helped Zaman's character in the film.

Eighty-year-old Michael Hui Koon-man won best supporting actor with crime movie Where the Wind Blows, 41 years after he won best actor for his self-directed film Security Unlimited in 1981.

Hui, famously known for his comedian roles, said he was surprised to receive the award for his role as the head of the city's anti-corruption watchdog.

“This proves that as long as you're willing to make new attempts. Anything can happen,” he said.

The best supporting actress trophy went to singer-actress Ivana Wong Yuen-chi, 43, for her performance in comedy Table for Six.

Veteran singer-actor Bowie Woo Fung, 91, won the lifetime achievement award, in appreciation to his contribution to the industry since his debut 70 years ago.
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