Better Days sweeps 8 awards at Hong Kong Film Awards, with winners announced in a livestream

Coming-of-age film Better Days was the star of the 39th Hong Kong Film Awards (HKFA) on Wednesday afternoon (May 6), bagging eight awards after leading with 12 nominations.

It won the Best Film award over family drama Fagara, gay romance drama Suk Suk, poverty melodrama I’m Livin’ It and The New King Of Comedy, Stephen Chow’s remake of his own 1999 film King Of Comedy.

Better Days’ Derek Tsang was also named Best Director, while the film’s lead actress Zhou Dongyu picked up the Best Actress award.

Tai Bo was named Best Actor for his role in Suk Suk, while Patra Au bagged the Best Supporting Actress award for the same movie. The Best Supporting Actor award went to Cheung Tat Ming for I’m Livin’ It.

This year’s awards were hosted by film-maker and Hong Kong Film Awards Association chairman Derek Yee via livestream for the first time in the awards’ history, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Yee took just 11 minutes to announce the winners on the association’s social media platforms.

It was a sweet victory for Tsang’s film, which has experienced worse days. It was yanked out of the Berlin film festival in February last year reportedly because of Beijing’s unease over the subject matter of bullying, days before it was to be shown.

It also failed to come out as scheduled in June last year in Chinese cinemas, before it was finally rolled out on Oct 25. Many speculated that cuts had been made.

Starring China’s Zhou and Jackson Yee, the film tells the story of a teenage girl who teams up with a school drop-out to protect her from bullies. It also highlights the pressures of the “gaokao”, the examination to get into Chinese universities.

Zhou beat Hong Kong actress-singer Sammi Cheng, who was nominated for two movies Fagara and Fatal Visit, in the Best Actress category. The 28-year-old actress had won Best Actress jointly with her co-star Sandra Ma in Soul Mate (2016) at Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards in the same year.

Incidentally, Soul Mate was also directed by Tsang, 40, who is the son of veteran Hong Kong actor-director Eric Tsang.

China’s An Elephant Sitting Still (2018), a bleak social commentary on life in China, was named Best Foreign Film. Its director and writer Hu Bo took his life not long after completing the film, which also won Best Film at the Golden Horse Awards in 2018.

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