GOLD COAST — Iranian helmer Asghar Farhadi’s “A Separation” took the top kudos at the fifth annual Asia-Pacific Screen Awards on the Gold Coast on Thursday night.

Pic, about a woman who seeks to leave her husband, and Iran, for a better life, has had a dream run this year, taking the Golden Bear at the Berlinale and the Sydney Film Prize at the Sydney Film Festival in June.

“The interesting point for me is that the reaction to the film in Iran and around the world was similar and it came to me that the similarities, despite their culture and distance, are greater than the differences,” said Farhadi, accepting his award.

Farhadi was one of the first recipients of the inaugural MPA APSA Screen Fund, started in 2010 by the Motion Picture Assn. of America and APSA to hand out four lots of $A25,000 ($24,317) coin.

“When I received the fund, more than thinking about the cash, it was important for me that non-Persian speakers understood the concept of my script,” Farhadi told Variety. “It was also a kind of encouragement to the fund that the money that they gave for a script can produce a film that would win the best film award.”

The winners of the 2011 MPA APSA coin were also announced: Shawkat Amin Korki (Iraq/Kurdistan) for his project “Memories on Stone,” Peyman Moadi, from Iran, for “Those Days,” Iranian-born Swedish filmmaker Maryam Ebrahimi for the docu “Burqas Behind Bars” and Pryas Gupta (India) for “The Cricket Tree.”

Farhadi’s advice to the new recipients was, “Forget about the money, continue to develop and update your stories.”

Also at the APSAs, “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia” from Nuri Bilge Ceylan took out three kudos on the night, including helmer for Ceylan, cinematography for Gokhan Tiryaki and jury grand prize for the pic’s producer Zeynep Ozbatur Atakan.

The best actor kudos was won by Chinese thesp Wang Baoqiang for “Hello! Shu Xian Sheng” (Mr Tree), while the actress kudos went to Nadezhda Markina from Russia for her role in “Elena.” The jury also gave the ensemble cast of Egyptian pic “Cairo 678” a high commendation; pic tackles the taboo issue of sexual harassment in Egypt.

More than 500 guests from 19 different countries attended the awards.