Hong Kong director’s movie ‘Better Days’ shortlisted for Oscar

‘Better Days’ is one of 15 films on the shortlist for the Oscars’ International Feature Film category. Photos: YouTube/New Trailer Buzz and The Academy Awards
‘Better Days’ is one of 15 films on the shortlist for the Oscars’ International Feature Film category. Photos: YouTube/New Trailer Buzz and The Academy Awards

A movie directed by a Hong Kong filmmaker is in the running to win an Oscar in the awards’ prestigious International Feature Film category.

The Academy Awards announced the names of 15 movies that have advanced to the category’s shortlist on its website Tuesday. Among the contenders is “Better Days,” the work of local actor and director Derek Tsang.

Released in October 2019, “Better Days” is a coming-of-age crime thriller about an unpopular high school girl, Chen Nian, who was often the target of bullies, and a street thug named Bei who promises to protect her.

Together, the two teens navigate the ups and downs of adolescence against the backdrop of Chen’s rocky school life, which sees her preparing for high-stake university entrance exams while enduring harassment at the hands of her peers.

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The film’s place on the Oscars shortlist follows its sweeping of eight commendations at the Hong Kong Film Awards last May. During the ceremony, held virtually due to COVID-19, “Better Days” claimed awards including best screenplay, best director and best actress.

While the film represents Hong Kong in the Oscars category and was directed by a Hongkonger, many in the city view the movie squarely as a mainland Chinese production. “Better Days” was shot primarily in Chongqing, a city in Sichuan province, and is in Mandarin, not Cantonese. Both the lead actor and actress are from mainland China.

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