'Drive My Car'.

From box office smashes to festival hits, nine films are in contention for this year’s AACTA Award for Best Asian Film.

The prize, now in its fifth year, forms part of AACTA’s international engagement program and is designed to acknowledge the increasing popularity and influence of Asian cinema in Australia and around the world.

The nine nominees are: 

  • Barbarian Invasion (Hong Kong/Malaysia/Philippines)
  • Balloon (China)
  • The Disciple (India)
  • Drive My Car (Japan)
  • Hi, Mom (China)
  • One for the Road (Thailand)
  • One Second (China/Hong Kong)
  • Sardar Udham (India)
  • Soorarai Pottru (India)

Arguably the frontrunner is Ryûsuke Hamaguchi’s Drive My Car, which was yesterday nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Directing and International Feature Film.

AACTA’s Best Asian Film Award has been previously given at the main awards ceremony, though international engagement director Sam Buckland told IF it had sought to separate it out of the domestic awards ceremony to keep the focus on local productions, and to give the Best Asian Film Award a more dedicated platform.  

“We felt if we moved the Award to February/March it would have its own space to breathe, and the nominees would be given the personal attention they all deserve – and the winner it’s own moment to shine,” he said.

Previous winners of the Best Asian Film Award include Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, Muye Wen’s Dying to Survive and Nitesh Tiwari’s Dangal. 

“The calibre of the Best Asian Film nominees this year show why they are growing in popularity across the globe,” said AFI | AACTA CEO Damian Trewhella.

“These films have made such a huge impact upon the Awards season so far, and AACTA are proud to be able to honour them in this way – we also look forward to continuing to honour and celebrate the great work from our northern Asian neighbours, which so greatly influences our own.”

The winners will be announced March 3.

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