Chinese film 'Mystery' wins Asian best picture

A Chinese drama that touches on sensitive topics including police corruption won the best picture at the Asian Film Awards Monday, while Japan's Takeshi Kitano scooped the best director gong.

"Mystery", directed by Lou Ye, which reportedly upset Chinese censors for dealing with controversial issues such as graft and the behaviour of the country's new rich, also took home the best newcomer award, won by actress Qi Xi.

The social satire was Lou's first film after he was banned from film-making for five years for showing politically charged love story "Summer Palace" at the Cannes Film Festival without government approval in 2006.

"I am very happy because this (film) project has run into some troubles before, so this is a recognition for us," Lou told AFP after winning the award at a glitzy ceremony in Hong Kong.

He said he would continue addressing social issues through his films despite the pressures he has faced.

"I just want to concentrate on making films.... Movies and society cannot be separated," the director said.

Chinese media said censors demanded Lou cut the violent ending where the male lead bludgeons a garbage collector to death with a hammer. He refused until a compromise was reached and he agreed to darken the scene.

Japanese actor-director Kitano won the best director honour with his yakuza gangster film "Outrage Beyond".

The best actor and best actress awards were both won by the Philippines.

Actor Eddie Garcia scooped the award for a role as a lonely gay man who is in his 70s in the comedy-drama "Bwakaw", while Nora Aunor was named best actress for "Thy Womb", in which she portrayed the struggle of an infertile wife.

The Asian Film Awards, organised by the Hong Kong International Film Festival, have been held annually since 2007, aimed at showcasing the region's movie talent. Thirty films from nine countries vied for the 14 prizes this year.