HONG KONG (AFP) - - Japanese stars and moviemakers were celebrating Tuesday after blitzing the annual Asian Film Awards.
The country's films dominated the glitzy ceremony in Hong Kong, scooping best picture, best director and best actor titles, and halting South Korea's stranglehold over the event.
"Tokyo Sonata," a portrait of the breakdown of a Japanese family, won the award for best film.
Its director, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, best known for his thrillers and suspense movies, said he believed "Tokyo Sonata" appealed to audiences across the region because it captured the dark side of human nature.
"The story is about ordinary people living in Japan. However, it captured the social problems that confront not only Japanese people today but also people outside Japan," Kurosawa, who also won the best screenwriter award for the film, told AFP after Monday's ceremony.
Masahiro Motoki scooped the best actor award for "Departures", which also won the best foreign language film in the Oscars.
He played a cellist forced to take a job in the funeral business after his orchestra was dissolved.
"I am very happy. I almost fainted and my throat was dry (when I received the award) -- I never thought I would get the award," Motoki told reporters.
"The story is about accepting death, letting go, and hopes after death. I think this is the kind of theme that will appeal to people because of the economic crisis we are experiencing now," he said.
Hirokazu Koreeda beat action film director and hometown hero John Woo to the best director award for "Still Walking," about how a family deals with the drowning of a relative.
After the ceremony, Koreeda denied the evening was a simply a Japanese triumph.
"I don't count the awards like the way people count the gold medals at the Olympics Games, by looking at the country the athletes belong to. I think we should elevate the status of Asian films as a collective whole," he said.
The Japanese director said his next film would be a joint project with Taiwanese cinematographers and Korean actors, but did not disclose further details.
China's Zhou Xun grabbed the best actress title for "The Equation of Love and Death," where she played a taxi-driver searching for her fiance who had disappeared years ago.
"I had to play a very, very lonely character," she said after the event.
"The role was very challenging. And I must thank my director because he gave me some very harsh comments," added Zhou, who burst into tears when she accepted the award.
Jung Woo-sung was crowned best supporting actor for his role in smash hit "The Good, the Bad, the Weird," one of the few successes for South Korean films at the awards.
The country's films have dominated the Asian Film Awards, a showcase for the best in the region's cinema, since the first ceremony in 2007.
Best supporting actress went to Gina Pareno, for her role in the Philippine movie "Service."
Thirty-six films from 11 territories in Asia vied for 13 prizes this year.