The 17th New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFFJune 29, 2018 to July 15, 2018) will award Hong Kong’s Stephy Tang its Screen International Rising Star Asia Award on July 7th before a screening of her film The Empty Hands. Tang, a former volleyball star, and model started out in the entertainment business as the lead singer of the phenomenally popular girls’ band The Cookies before launching her successful solo career. In addition to concerts, albums, and television appearances, she started her own fashion label and wrote a romance novel. In film, she is best known for her pairing with Alex Fong in a series of popular rom-coms directed by Patrick Kong from 2006-2015.
NYAFF is celebrating Tang for her recent shift in career direction, taking on a series of more challenging roles. In Cheung Wing-kai’s Somewhere Beyond the Mist, she plays a pregnant policewoman investigating a morbid murder case; in Chapman To’s The Empty Hands, she plays a young woman who reaches self-actualization by stepping back into the ring after the death of her estranged father, a karate master. She trained for six months for the latter role.
Tang recently told the South China Morning Post that she hopes The Empty Hands represents a new era of “more female-oriented films in Hong Kong”. She said, “In the last few years, I have been hoping that people would recognize me as an actress rather than as a singer. Of course, I still do concerts but, in the past, I made movies as a singer, and now I hope I’m more an actress doing music. I’m determined to make this happen.”
Samuel Jamier, NYAFF’s executive director says, “At a time when Hong Kong cinema is reinventing itself and finding a new maturity, we’re excited to award an actress who has also reinvented herself. We believe that Stephy Tang has the talent, determination, and charisma to become one of Hong Kong’s leading actors in the years to come.”
The previous recipients of the Screen International Rising Star Asia Award were Japan’s Fumi Nikaido in 2014; Japan’s Shota Sometani in 2015; Japan’s Go Ayano, China’s Jelly Lin, and the Philippines’ Teri Malvar in 2016; and Thailand’s Chutimon “Aokbab” Chuengcharoensukying in 2017.
Now in its 17th year, the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) is North America’s leading festival of popular Asian cinema, which The Village Voice has called “the best film festival in New York,” and The New York Times has called “one of the city’s most valuable events.” Launched in 2002 by Subway Cinema, the festival selects only the best, strangest, and most entertaining movies to screen for New York audiences, ranging from mainstream blockbusters and art-house eccentricities to genre and cult classics. It was the first North American film festival to champion the works of Johnnie To, Bong Joon-ho, Park Chan-wook, Takashi Miike, and other auteurs of contemporary Asian cinema. Since 2010, it has been produced in collaboration with the Film Society of Lincoln Center.