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16th Asian Film Awards: The Interviews

Written by YumCha! Editorial Team Tell a Friend

Celebrating the best in Asian cinema, the 16th Asian Film Awards (AFA) was held on March 12, 2023, in Hong Kong. It marked the award ceremony's return to Hong Kong after three years, and the city's first major film industry event since the lifting of COVID restrictions.

Actors and filmmakers came out in full to support the AFA this year. Many of the award winners, nominees and presenters met the press before and after the award ceremony to share their thoughts. Below are some highlights from the interviews!


Abe Hiroshi was the recipient of this year's Excellence in Asian Cinema Award – and Best Dressed! In a career spanning over 30 years and 90 films, not to mention over 100 TV productions, he has proven himself at home in all genres from drama to comedy. Despite his many achievements, the Japanese actor humbly said that he was taken aback to be selected for such a big award.

When asked if there were any roles that he'd like to play, Abe Hiroshi commented that he's always liked jidaigeki (historical drama) as a lot of artistry goes into them, and he worries that fewer and fewer such productions are being made. As for a particular historical character, he chose Sengoku-era warrior Takeda Shingen, whom he recently portrayed in the TV drama What Will You Do, Ieyasu?

Abe Hiroshi, who appeared in Jingle Ma's Tokyo Raiders before, would welcome the opportunity to act in a Hong Kong film again, and even asked for suggestions on what type of film would suit him. "Comedy is nice but Hong Kong film tempo is fast – I don't know if I can keep up!"


Im Si Wan was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role as a terrorist who sets off the events of Han Jae Rim's disaster thriller Emergency Declaration. To prepare for the role, he spent time forming a deeper understanding of the character and the reason for his actions. When asked if he would want to challenge even darker roles, Im Si Wan replied that he actually prefers kind characters, but would not be against playing antagonists in the future if an appealing role appears.

Regarding the Netflix film Unlocked in which he plays a psychopathic stalker, Im Si Wan revealed that he initially turned down the role because he was worried about the film's topic having a negative social effect. He eventually decided that as an actor, he had no reason to reject a good script, but he donated to charity to ease his mind.

After being interviewed by Carol "Dodo" Cheng the day before, Im Si Wan became only the third person the legendary Hong Kong actress follows on Instagram. The Korean star was happy to meet Dodo Cheng as he has watched her films, and he was surprised by how much she knew about him!


Two of Taiwan's most promising new-generation actors, Tseng Jing Hua and Gingle Wang co-starred in the acclaimed horror drama Detention back in 2019. The two reminisced about acting together when they were both just 19 and their ongoing friendship and support for each other.

They also discussed their roles in the new omnibus romantic series At the Moment. Tseng Jing Hua shared that his more experienced co-star Alyssa Chia was very supportive when he felt nervous on set, while Gingle Wang appreciated playing a realistic, everyday character this time, in contrast to her previous roles.

Both actors looked forward to seeing director Kore-eda Hirokazu as they met him before at the Golden Horse Awards.


Lucas Bravo of Emily in Paris fame visited Hong Kong for the first time to participate as an award presenter at the AFA. The French actor said that he was influenced by Asian cinema from a young age, and described Wong Kar Wai's In the Mood for Love as his "first emotion" in cinema.

Lucas Bravo was effusive about working with Julia Roberts and George Clooney on Ticket to Paradise: "I just learned with them that the bigger the star, the nicer the person."

For Emily in Paris fans, the fourth season will be filmed in August. As for the story: "Darren Star likes to write everything as we're shooting because he gets directly inspired by the characters, by the real actors in real life so… depending on what I'm going to do with my life, there might be a direct influence on Gabriel."


Vivian Sung, who presented the Best Supporting Actor award, shared that the productions she worked on in the past two years will be out soon including the French film For My Country (which played Venice), the Taiwan film My Heavenly City with Keung To, and the TV drama Oh No! Here Comes Trouble with Tseng Jing Hua.

When asked about Hong Kong actors she'd like to work with, the Taiwan actress answered Tony Leung and Andy Lau. Vivian Sung shared that she recently saw the re-release of Hou Hsiao Hsien's A City of Sadness, and was struck by the acting and appearance of the young Tony Leung. She also said that she never got to act with Andy Lau in Our Times, so she hopes that she'll have the chance now that she's grown up eight years later!


Like Vivian Sung, Austin Lin looked forward most to seeing Tony Leung at the AFA. The Taiwan actor presented the Best Newcomer Award with Greg Han, his co-star in the supernatural comedy mystery Marry My Dead Body that was just released in February. The hit film follows a homophobic policeman who gets pulled into a "ghost marriage" with a man who died in an accident.

Austin Lin, who plays the "ghost husband," said that a special thing about the film is that it's hard to describe the feelings between the protagonists with our current available vocabulary. Though Marry My Dead Body is a comedy, it's also realistic and moving for audiences, regardless of gender and sexual orientation. Austin Lin joked that if he worked with Greg Han again, it'd be nice to swap roles!


Park Hae Il, who was nominated for Best Actor for Decision to Leave, talked about his affinity for Hong Kong films which were very popular in South Korea when he was young. The Korean star hoped to be able to congratulate Sammo Hung in person for winning the Lifetime Achievement Award – even if the Hong Kong action legend may not know who he is, he added jokingly – because he watched many Hong Kong films before he became an actor, including Sammo Hung's Lucky Stars series.

When asked about his thoughts on the other Best Actor nominees, Park Hae Il recalled that the performances of Tony Leung in In the Mood for Love and Nishijima Hidetoshi in Cut left great impressions on him, and he felt honored to be nominated in the same category as them.


Kore-eda Hirokazu won Best Director at the AFA for the second time with the Korean film Broker. The Japanese director expressed surprise about winning, and said that his reason for attending the AFA wasn't the award but rather the event's significance as a gathering of the Asian film industry and a sign of revival after the pandemic.

Kore-eda has no plans at the moment to make films in other countries – his next work is Japanese – but he will wait for the right timing, like with Broker. The director was all praise about his experience filming in Korea, from the actors' professionalism to the work conditions.

As his father was born in Taiwan, Kore-eda mentioned that he'd be interested in making a film in Taiwan with Taiwan actors. There are many Chinese actors he'd like to work with such as Gwei Lun Mei, Zhou Dongyu and Tony Leung.


Hong Kong's own Mak Pui Tung won Best Newcomer for his role in the courtroom crime thriller The Sparring Partner. The actor expressed that he didn't expect to win because he watched the other nominees' films, and felt that they did very well. He also mentioned that director Tin Ho admired Park Ji Min's performance in Return to Seoul.

Having persisted in theater for ten years, Mak Pui Tung hopes that his performances will reach more people in the future, and that he will be able to bring more good roles and good films to everyone.


Japanese actor Miyazawa Hio won Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the drama Egoist about the relationship between a magazine editor and his personal trainer. In preparing for the challenging role of the protagonist's younger lover, Miyazawa Hio had many conversations with co-star Suzuki Ryohei and director Matsunaga Daishi on "how to create the character and how to put that character into the film itself."

For one memorable scene in which his character confronted Suzuki's character, they took nearly the whole day and over 20 takes to get the perfect take.


Known for his roles in K-Dramas like Healer and films like Fabricated City, Korean star Ji Chang Wook expressed that he was honored to receive this year's Next Generation Award, and would continue to work hard and take on new challenges. Since he's only been acting in South Korea so far, the popular actor welcomes the challenge of participating in film projects overseas.

Ji Chang Wook said that there are many Hong Kong actors he'd like to work with, and as a fan of Tony Leung, he was happy to take a selfie with him!


Tony Leung Chiu Wai – the most frequently mentioned name throughout the day as the Hong Kong actor everyone wanted to work with – took home two trophies: the Asian Film Contribution Award and Best Actor for his role in Where the Wind Blows. The legendary star didn't expect to win Best Actor, which was presented to him by wife Carina Lau who also said she was surprised.

Tony Leung shared that he had watched Drive My Car and Decision to Leave, and thought that Nishijima Hidetoshi and Park Hae Il both gave very good performances. He also emphasized that he's always looking to work with filmmakers from different places to find new sparks or inspiration.


For those who may be hoping that Hamaguchi Ryusuke will take on another Murakami Haruki story after Drive My Car, he doesn't have such plans at the moment. The director believes there's no particular standard for adapting literature to film, but it depends on whether he finds the work interesting and whether it can actually be turned into film. Hamaguchi named Wong Kar Wai as the Hong Kong director who has influenced him the most, so he's glad to see Nishijima Hidetoshi and Tony Leung nominated in the same category.

Though he missed out on the Best Actor award, Nishijima Hidetoshi expressed that he's a fan of Tony Leung, and felt honored to be at the AFA with Tony Leung and Sammo Hung. He reacted with happy surprise when told that Tony Leung had praised his performance right before!

Drive My Car won Best Film as well as Best Editing and Best Original Music.

Visit YesAsia's Facebook page to see photos from the 16th Asian Film Awards red carpet and winner interviews.

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Published March 21, 2023

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