The Asian Film Awards can be described as the ‘Oscars of Asia’ in many respects, having grown from their start in 2007 to be one of the major awards shows for the Asian film market. The 2020 edition of the Asian Film Awards recently took place in an online-only format this year, with Japanese films like 37 Seconds and To The Ends of the Earth picking up prizes as South Korea’s Parasite dominated the prizes for this year’s event.
It’s perhaps no surprise that Parasite would end up being the major winner from these awards considering the global success of the film that projected it to deserved Oscars glory earlier this year. That film took away the top prize for best film alongside awards for Screenplay, Editing and Production Design. Films from across Asia picked up a number of awards in a varied prize pool at this year’s event, with three Japanese films among the winners at the event.
A personal favorite of mine is HIKARI’s stunning debut feature 37 Seconds, which picked up a prize for Best New Director at the event. I covered the film at the beginning of the year shortly following its Netflix release and praised the movie for its thoughtful and interesting discussion on life with cerebral palsy in Japan while tackling the intersection between sex and disability, a topic rarely discussed in any medium. I can’t wait to see what the director has planned for their next work.
To The Ends of the Earth, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s previous film before his recent Silver Lion-winning work Wife of a Spy, was another winner, with Ryo Kase picking up a prize for supporting actor for their role in the cross-continental film. Kei Ishikawa’s Listen to the Universe was another winner, with their film following four young competition pianists bagging Kuroishi Yoshifumi an award for Best Sound.
What these Japanese prize winners, alongside the countless other films from Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, India and more, all show, is the huge pool of talent working on a number of engaging and entertaining feature films that are often overlooked by Western audiences. The purpose of these awards is to celebrate that fact, and I feel they achieve this. Having seen a portion of the prize-winning films before, each film I would argue is worthy of the recognition they received. You can view the Asian Film Awards 2020 on YouTube.