Just like the movies

Mothers and women were also big themes in this crop of nominated films.

It was an emotional night at the Oscars, with winners in tears and speeches brimming with truths that no doubt touched viewers deep in the heart — just like the movies.

The night before, in our part of the world, the 16th Asian Film Awards drew stars and film geniuses to Hong Kong, the nexus of Asian film, for this year’s regional awards that had been held in the past two editions in Busan, South Korea.

For a moment there, I felt like I was in that multiverse so fantastically created by “the Daniels” of Oscars’ big winner “Everything, Everywhere All at Once”.

In Hollywood, stars in their stunning gowns gathered for the annual Academy Awards. It seemed the atmosphere was more electric this time — the anticipation and excitement at being out there evident somehow, even through a TV screen.

In Hong Kong, I reveled in the atmosphere of celebrity created by klieg lights, brightly colored fresh blooms, shimmering fabric and outer accessories.

As early as mid-afternoon, fans had gathered around the Hong Kong Palace Museum to catch a glimpse of their idols — from Hong Kong’s Tony Leung to South Korea’s Ji Chiang-wook, Japan’s Abe Shinzo to Malaysia’s Lin Min Chen.

It was a first for me to be in the midst of all that energy. To get to the red-carpet area, we had to get around the throng and I experienced firsthand the surge of people that could not be contained.

As celebrities walked the red carpet one by one, in pairs or groups, I realized what an awesome gathering it was for the whole of the Asian film industry.

Movie stars and big names in film from different Asian countries were gathered under one roof, and the screaming fans’ decibels were the gauge for the breadth of their fame.

Lucas Bravo, a French actor and one of the main characters in Netflix’s Emily in Paris, flew in to attend the ceremony, in hopes as well of meeting, as a “fan,” Tony Leung, who starred in the 2020 film In the Mood for Love with Maggie Cheung.

In an interview earlier that day, Lucas said he was glad that stories from Asia were getting their space in Hollywood more than before, and that these were now being screened in their original form, in a foreign language, and not translated or remade in English.

The model/actor said, “It’s just, you know, at some point, you have to feed your brain with something new. You have to see something you haven’t seen before. Otherwise, it’s the death of creativity.”

Creativity was at the fore of the Oscar Best Film “Everything, Everywhere All at Once”. As Daniel Scheinert, receiving his best director Oscar, said, “We want to dedicate this to all the mommies of the world… to my mum, thank you for not crushing my creativity when I was making weird horror movies and dressing in drag as a kid, which is a threat to nobody, by the way!”

Mothers and women were also big themes in this crop of nominated films. Michelle Yeoh, the first Asian woman to win best actress at the Oscars, represented many aspects of the stories of our time with her role and her triumph at the Academy Awards.

“For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibilities. This is proof that dream big, and dreams do come true. And ladies, don’t let anyone ever tell you you are past your prime… thank you to the academy, this is history in the making,” she said in her acceptance speech.

Similarly, Ke Huy Quan’s win as a supporting actor in the same film marked another “watershed moment” for many Asians and Asian Americans — as PBS reported, it “represents an opportunity for optimism after three years of anti-Asian hate brought on by the pandemic.”

The wind blows in the direction of previously ignored themes such as Asian stories, women, and gender differences as if the multiverse has opened for all of us all at once.

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