Iran's 'A Separation' big winner at Asian Film Awards

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Iran's 'The Separation' shines at Asian film awards, winning top prizes including Best Film. []

Hong Kong's veteran actress Deanie Ip won Best Actress at the 6th Asian Film Awards on Monday while Chinese films dominated the ceremony, winning six of the 14 awards, including Ni Ni for Best Newcomer in the Nanjing Massacre film "The Flowers of War".

But Iranian film "A Separation" left all others behind at the Asian Film Awards on Monday, winning top prizes including Best Film and Best Director.

The movie, which won Iran's first-ever Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film last month, won four out of the five nominations it received at the top Asian film event. The two other awards were for Best Screenwriter and Best Editor.

The only nomination it failed to materialize, was in the category for Best Actress, which saw Hong Kong's veteran actress Deanie Ip for her role as a loyal servant in the film "A Simple Life" taking home the gold.

"This is an absolute honor," The Separation's lead actress Leila Hatami said as she accepted the award for Best Film on behalf of director Asghar Farhadi, who was absent.

"I want to express our sincere gratitude," Hatami, clad in a black Islamic headscarf, told the crowd at the glitzy ceremony at Hong Kong's Harbourside Convention Center late Monday evening.

"A Separation" presents a social exposé of the Islamic republic behind the veneer of a taut family drama, while exploring themes of love, lies and honor.

Indonesian actor Donny Damara caused a surprise by winning the award for Best Actor for his role as a transvestite sex worker confronted by his teenage daughter, in a story that was shot in the world's most populous Muslim nation.

"I dedicate this award to all Indonesian films," the overjoyed 45-year-old -- who had to learn how to walk in high-heels for his role in the film -- told reporters.

Actress Ni Ni poses for photos during the presentation ceremony of the 6th Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong, south China, March 19, 2012. Ni won the Best New Comer award for film The Flowers of War. [Photo: Xinhua/Lui Siu Wai] 

Chinese films dominated the ceremony, winning six out of 14 awards, including Ni Ni for Best Newcomer in Zhang Yimou 's Nanjing Massacre film "The Flowers of War", China's biggest box office smash of the past year.

The historical drama also starred Oscar-winning British actor Christian Bale playing an American mortician who posed as a priest to protect women during the Japanese army's invasion of Nanjing, China.

3D-martial arts movie "Flying Swords of Dragon Gate" led the nomination race with seven nods but received just two technical awards in the categories for Visual Effects and Costume Design. The film tells the story of a Ming Dynasty general fighting imperial assassins at a remote outpost in the Chinese desert.

The Asian Film Awards, organized by the Hong Kong International Film Festival and held annually since 2007, have been traditionally dominated by South Korea -- but there were no South Korean winners this year.

The event is aimed at showcasing the region's movie talent. This year 32 films from across the region vied for the 14 prizes.

Hong Kong director Ann Hui was honored for her life's work at the ceremony with the Lifetime Achievement Award. She became the first female director ever to receive the award.

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