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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 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 (latest 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 in "Mystery" 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 portrays the struggles 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.
While the awards have been dominated by South Koreans in the past, this year prizes were distributed across the region, with China winning four, three for Japan and two for the Philippines.
"Rhino Season", set against the backdrop of Iran's 1979 revolution, dominated the technical awards with best cinematographer, best production designer and best visual effects.
"Asian films are spreading across the globe because of their diversity and innovation," Hong Kong pop star and head juror Andy Lau said in an earlier statement.
"Not only do Asian films deliver fresh topics, they also actively explore different social issues."
Malaysian-born actress Michelle Yeoh, best known as a Bond girl in "Tomorrow Never Dies" and for her role as Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi last year in "The Lady", won the "Excellence in Asian Cinema" special award.
Thirty films from nine countries vied for 14 prizes this year at the 7th Asian Film Awards.
Here is the full list of the winners:
Best Film: Mystery (Mainland China)
Best Director: Takeshi Kitano (Outrage Beyond -- Japan)
Best Actor: Eddie Garcia (Bwakaw -- the Philippines)
Best Actress: Nora Aunor (Thy Womb -- the Philippines)
Best Newcomer: Qi Xi (Mystery -- Mainland China)
Best Supporting Actor: Nawazuddin Siddiqui (Talaash: The Answer Lies Within -- India)
Best Supporting Actress: Makiko Watanabe (Capturing Dad -- Japan)
Best Screenwriter: Mei Feng, Yu Fan, Lou Ye (Mystery -- Mainland China)
Best Cinematographer: Touraj Aslani (Rhino Season -- Iraqi Kurdistan/Turkey)
Best Production Designer: Bahman Ghobadi, Daryoosh Peiro (Rhino Season -- Iraqi Kurdistan/Turkey)
Best Composer: Pritam Chakraborty (Barfi! -- India)
Best Editor: Mototaka Kusakabe (The Kirishima Thing -- Japan)
Best Visual Effects: Farbod Khoshtinat (Rhino Season -- Iraqi Kurdistan/ Turkey)
Best Costume Designer: Man Lim-chung (The Silent War -- Mainland China/ Hong Kong)