Kim Tae-Ri in The Handmaiden.
Kim Tae-Ri in The Handmaiden.

Erotic South Korean thriller The Handmaiden has set pulses racing across the region over the past year with its sex-filled tale of deceit and deception – and the Park Chan-wook-directed feature could well sizzle again at this year’s Asian Film Awards after leading the way with six nominations, as announced on Wednesday.

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While the film, and Park himself, missed out on the major nominations – rather oddly – the film’s brightest spark, Moon So-ri, was nominated for Best Supporting Actress, while Kim Tae-ri is in the running for Best Newcomer. The Handmaiden is also in the running for Best Screenplay and three technical awards.

Second in nominations was Feng Xiaogang’s drama I Am Not Madame Bovary – proving once again the Chinese director’s talent for making films loved by critics and audiences alike. It’s up for best film, best director, and also best actress for the usually glamorous Fan Bingbing who well and truly grubs up in her role as a peasant woman beaten down by life, and by the law.

The 11th edition of the AFAs sees Chinese auteur Jia Zhangke head a jury that also features acclaimed Hong Kong actress Karena Lam Kar-yan. The AFAs this year received almost 1,600 submissions from 28 countries, according to organizers.

The 11th Asian Film Awards will be held on Tuesday, March 21, at the Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre, 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong. 

List of nominations for major awards

Best Film: The Wailing (South Korea); The Age of Shadows (South Korea); Harmonium (Japan); Godspeed (Taiwan); I Am Not Madame Bovary (China)

Best Director: Na Hong-jin (The Wailing, South Korea); Koji Fukada (Harmonium, Japan); Derek Tsang (Soul Mate, Hong Kong/China); Feng Xiaogang (I Am Not Madame Bovary, China); Lav Diaz (The Woman Who Left, Philippines)

Best Actor: Michael Hui (Godspeed, Taiwan); Gong Yoo (Train to Busan, South Korea); Tadanobu Asano (Harmonium, Japan); Fan Wei (Mr No Problem, China); Richie Jen (Trivisa, Hong Kong)

Best Actress: Son Ye-jin (The Last Princess, South Korea); Fan Bingbing (I Am Not Madame Bovary, China); Haru Kuroki (A Bride For Rip Van Winkle, Japan); Kara Wai (Happiness, Hong Kong); Charo Santos-Concio (The Woman Who Left, Philippines)