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‘Leviathan’ Wins Top Prize At Asia Pacific Screen Awards

BRISBANE, Australia – Russian film “Leviathan,” directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev, added to its prize haul by claiming the best film prize at a lightning-interrupted Asia Pacific Screen Awards ceremony on Thursday.

The APSA best director prize went to Turkey’s Nuri Blige Ceylan for his “Winter Sleep.”

Both films had premiered at Cannes in May, where “Winter Sleep” won the Palme d’Or. “Leviathan” had been the APSA front-runner, having earned the highest number of nominations, three, ahead of two for “Winter Sleep.”

Prizes were decided by a jury that was headed by Iran’s Asghar Farhadi, and also included Oscar-nominated cinematographer Lu Yue, Palestinian actress-writer-director Hiam Abbass, award winning actor-producer-director Rajit Kapur, European film-maker Maciej Stuhr, and “Ilo Ilo” director Anthony Chen.

Winners came from nine countries. And there were plenty of consolation prizes for films from China and the Middle East, but little joy for the world’s largest film producing nation India, nor for East Asia territories including Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand and The Philippines that have provided previous APSA winners.

Chinese beneficiaries included Nai An, Li Ling, Kristina Larsen and Wang Yong, producers of Lou Ye’s “Blind Massage”; Dong Jinsong for cinematography on “Black Coal, Thin Ice”; and actress Lu Zhong in “Red Amnesia.”

The ceremony itself had a couple of curious moments when a lightning strike knocked out the city’s electricity supplies. That in turn forced City Hall onto backup generators and required the video packages and technical support to be rebuilt. There were two interruptions to the presentations of more than five minutes each.

More uplifting moments included a huge response to popular actor David Gulpilil, an emotional response to Merila Zareie who spoke of Iran’s peace-loving people and the suffering of mothers. “1001 Apples,” was announced as the documentary winner. The prize was accepted by the brother of the director, Taha Karimi, who died shortly after completing the film. .

The APSAs are now in their eighth edition and second time in their permanent home of Brisbane, having moved a few miles North up the Queensland coast from Gold Coast. The move was prompted by the withdrawal of funding by the state, and the offer of finance instead from Brisbane, Australia’s third biggest city.

The move has cemented the show in Brisbane, which sees itself as a cultural centre and Australia’s gateway to Asia, and given the show an air of permanence that contrasts with other awards shows in the Asia Pacific region. The Asia Pacific Film Festival and awards show, backed by a Taiwan-based producers’ association, left it till last week to announced that it had postponed its December event in Bangkok until February next year.

With the backing of the city and top-up funding from local business, the APSAs have flourished. Lightning-aside, they are now an impressively well-run affair, with live web feeds, and a behind-the-scenes documentary, swanky receptions in the City Hall and among the exhibits of the Gallery of Modern Art.

The APSAs boast alliances with international producers’ federation FIAPF, UNESCO and the European Film Awards, as well as the Hollywood studios’ representative organ the Motion Picture Association, which has now provided $100,000 of annual bursaries for five years.

They also share space and thematic influence with the Queensland-backed Brisbane Asia Pacific Film Festival which held its first running this year (Nov 29- Dec. 14), and replaced the old Brisbane International Film Festival.

An MPA-backed conference series took place Wednesday, and the BAPFF’s adviser Anne Demy-Geroe chaired an insightful on-stage interview with APSA alumnus Farhadi.

2014 Asia Pacific Screen Awards — complete winners list
BEST FEATURE FILM
“Leviathan” (aka “Leviafan”) (Russia)
ACHIEVEMENT IN DIRECTING
Nuri Bilge Ceylan for “Winter Sleep” (aka “Kis Uykusu”) (Turkey, France, Germany)
BEST SCREENPLAY
Nima Javidi for “Melbourne” (Iran)
ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY
Dong Jinsong for “Black Coal Thin Ice” (aka “Bai Ri Yan Huo”) (China, Hong Kong)
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR
Cliff Curtis in “The Dark Horse” (New Zealand)
SPECIAL MENTION BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR
David Gulpilil in “Charlie’s Country” (Australia)
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS
Lu Zhong in “Red Amnesia” (aka “Chuangru Zhe”) (China)
SPECIAL MENTION BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS
Merila Zareie in “Track 143” (aka “Shiar-E 143”) (Iran)
BEST YOUTH FEATURE FILM
“Sivas” (Turkey, Germany)
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE FILM
“1001 Apples” (aka “Hezar-o yek Siv”) (Iraq)
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
“The Tale of The Princess Kaguya” (aka “Kaguya-hime no Monogatari”) (Japan)
UNESCO AWARD
Shawkat Amin Korki for directing “Memories on Stone” (aka “Bîranînên li ser kevirî”) (Iraqi Kurdistan, Germany)
JURY GRAND PRIZE
“Blind Massage” (aka “Tui Na”) (China, France)
JURY GRAND PRIZE
Rakhshan Banietemad for directing “Tales” (aka “Ghesseha”) (Iran)
FIAPF Award for Outstanding Achievement in Film in the Asia Pacific region
Emile Sherman (Australia)
APSA Academy NETPAC Development Prize
Reza Dormishian (Iran)

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