HONG KONG – “Omar,” Hany Abu-Asad’s powerful drama about violence, was named as the best feature film at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards.

The film, about a young baker whose loyalty to family and country are complicated by his love for a student, debuted in Un Certain Regard at Cannes and is Palestine’s official entry for the foreign-language Academy Award.

‘Omar” (pictured) was the APSA front-runner with three nominations, but at the ceremony in Brisbane City hall, the best film prize was its only award. “The Lunchbox,” earned its first-time Indian director Ritesh Batra the prize for best screenplay. The film was also one of two that were awarded a Grand Jury Prize. Mostofa Farooki’s “Television” from Bangladesh also won a Grand Jury Prize.

The jury was headed by Indian screenwriter and director Shyam Benegal. He said he was “most impressed with the quality of films that have made it to the final competition at APSA. The jury decided all of the prizes with the exception of three – best children’s film, animated film and documentary – which were chosen by a vote of APSA Academy members. APSA’s Academy consists of past winners and nominees.

While APSA documentary winner the “The Act of Killing” was directed by the U.S.’s Joshua Oppenheimer and financed largely from Europe, it was deemed eligible for the APSAs. It features several former Indonesian government operatives reliving their acts of torture and murder in the style of film performances. It was produced in association with several Indonesian producers who do not want their identity revealed and instead label themselves as Anonymous.

In addition to “Omar” the winners list includes five other films that are their countries’ Oscar hopefuls: “Television” (Bangladesh), “The Grandmaster” (Hong Kong), “Back to 1942” (China), “Juvenile Offender” (South Korea) and “Ilo, Ilo” (Singapore).

As in previous years, the ceremony was webcast live and appeared to go off without obvious technical hitches. Unfortunately, a large number of the prize winners — including Hany Abu-Asad, Ritesh Batra, Zhang Ziyi and Lee Byung-hun — were not in attendance. Anthony Chen, who was criticized for his acceptance speech at last month’s Golden Horse Awards in Taiwan, this time kept his speech to a minimalist 43 seconds.

Asia Pacific Screen Awards 2013 Winners
Best Feature Film
“Omar” dir: Hany Anu-Asad (Palestine)
Grand Jury Prize(s)
“The Lunchbox” dir: Ritesh Batra (India)
“Television” dir: Mostofa Farooki (Bangladesh)
Best Screenplay
“The Lunchbox” dir: Ritesh Batra (India)
Best Performance by an Actress
Zhang Ziyi in “The Grandmaster” (HK-China)
Best Performance by an Actor
Lee Byung-hun in “Masquerade” (South Korea)
Achievement in Directing
Anthony Chen for “Ilo Ilo”
Achievement in Directing – Special Mention(s)
Emir Baigazin for “Harmony Lessons” (Kazakhstan, Germany France)
Hiner Saleem (Iraqi Kurdistan, France, Germany)
Best Cinematography
Lu Yue for “Back To 1942” (China)
UNESCO Award for Cultural Diversity
“The Painting Pool” dir: Maziar Miri (Iran)
Best Children’s Feature
“Juvenile Offender” dir: Kang Yi-kwan (South Korea)
Best Animated Feature
“Koo! Kin-Dza-Dza” dir: Georgiy Daneliya (Russia)
Best Documentary
“The Act of Killing” Joshua Oppenheimer (Denmark, Norway, U.K.)