Eric Tsang
Eric Tsang

The 16th New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) will present five awards, including the Star Hong Kong Lifetime Achievement Award to Eric Tsang, two Star Asia Awards, the Screen International Rising Star Award to Thailand’s Chutimon “Aokbab” Chuengcharoensukying, and the Daniel E. Craft Award for Excellence in Action Cinema to South Korea’s Jung Byung-gil.

Gang Dong-won, China’s Duan Yihong will be awarded the Star Asia Award at the 16th New York Asian Film Festival on 1st July 2017. It is in recognition for his entire body of work. It will be presented in person to the actor before screenings of Extraordinary Mission and Battle of Memories at the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

This is the first time that a Star Asia Award has been presented to an actor from China. Previous recipients include Donnie Yen, Miriam Yeung and South Korea’s Lee Byung-hun. The festival’s Screen International Rising Star Asia Award recognizing new talent has previously been presented to two actors from China, Huang Bo in 2010 and Jelly Lin in 2016.

“We’re honored to give one of our top awards to Duan Yihong, who we regard as one of China’s greatest modern actors,” said Samuel Jamier, the festival’s executive director. “The cinema of China is now central to our lineup, in recognition that it is not only at the forefront of genre cinema in Asia, but is also making the most perceptive, honest films about human relationships.”

Chinese-language films in this year’s selection include Yang Shupeng’s Blood of Youth, Han Han’s Duckweed, Liu Yulin’s Someone to Talk To, Zhang Yang’s Soul on a String, Leste Chen’s Battle of Memories and Extraordinary Mission, directed by Alan Mak and Anthony Pun.

The Excellence in Action Cinema Award will be presented to South Korea’s Jung Byung-gil. The maverick director is a former guest of the festival in 2008 when he attended the international premiere of his debut feature Action Boys. He returns to New York almost a decade later with his reinvention of action cinema, The Villainess, which will be the closing film.

The NYAFF will honor the great Eric Tsang with the Lifetime Achievement Award. This is a change from the previously announced awardee Tony Leung Ka-fai, who is unfortunately no longer able to attend the festival due to extenuating circumstances. The festival describes Tsang as the perfect choice in a year in which the festival is championing first-time filmmakers from Hong Kong. Although best known as an actor, Tsang’s most vital contribution to Greater China cinema is as an investor, producer and supporter of new directors. The festival is showing his new film Mad World by first-time director Wong Chun, also attending.

The festival will screen 57 feature films over 17 days. The festival opens on 30 June with the international premiere of Thai high-school thriller Bad Genius and closes on 16 July with the U.S. premiere of South Korean revenge thriller The Villainess. The festival’s centerpiece gala is Mikhail Red’s ecological thriller Birdshot from the Philippines.

The festival this year launches its competition for first- and second-time directors whose films are receiving their North American premiere at the festival. The seven films competing are Bad Genius (Thailand), Birdshot (Philippines), A Double Life (Japan), Jane (South Korea), Kfc (Vietnam), and With Prisoners (Hong Kong).

The 16th New York Asian Film Festival will be held at Film Society of Lincoln Center June 30 to July 13, 2017; and SVA Theater from July 14 to July 16, 2017.

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