Not enough Hong Kong residents worked on Ang Lee’s "Lust, Caution" – so it can't qualify for the major categories at the Hong Kong Film Awards, the organizers said.
The news comes after the Oscars rejected the spy thriller as Taiwan's entry for best foreign film, because not enough Taiwanese took part in making it.
Lee, who won best director Oscar for "Brokeback Mountain" last year, hails from Taiwan.
The much-hyped "Lust, Caution" is about a sexually charged relationship between an undercover activist (Tang Wei) and the Japanese-allied intelligence chief (Tony Leung Chiu-wai) in World War II-era Shanghai.
The Hong Kong Film Awards event is open to movies that meet at least two of three requirements: a Hong Kong director, a Hong Kong film company and at least eight Hong Kong residents were among the key creative talent. The requirement of eight Hong Kongers among the production crew was raised from six last year.
One of the investors in "Lust, Caution," - Hong Kong's Edko Films Ltd. - told organizers that not enough Hong Kongers had worked on the film for it to qualify for the major award categories, like best film and best director, Michelle Tsang, the administration manager of the Hong Kong Film Awards, told The Associated Press.
Lead actor Leung is from Hong Kong, but lead actress Tang is mainland Chinese. Director Lee and script writer Wang Hui-ling are Taiwanese, cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto is Mexican and composer Alexandre Desplat is French.
An Edko executive didn't immediately return a reporter's call seeking comment.
However, Tsang said the film, which has earned millions of U.S. dollars (euros) at Taiwan and Hong Kong box offices, qualifies for the best Asian film prize at the Hong Kong Film Awards, which is open to non-Hong Kong movies.
The movie's recent problems in meeting film award requirements stem from a growing integration in the Chinese-speaking film industry. It is common for Hong Kong, mainland China and Taiwan to pool resources and talent.
Commenting on the trend, Lee recently told Taiwan's CTI Cable News: "With Chinese-language films, their production systems and audiences are spread out wide."
The best-known Chinese-language film honor is Taiwan's Golden Horse Awards, open to all Chinese-language movies. "Lust, Caution" has qualified for that event, scheduled for Dec. 8 in Taipei.