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The Asia Pacific Screen Awards are to increase their role in film funding through the establishment of a new film development prize worth $20,000.

The APSA Academy Sun Yat-Sen Bo Ai Film Fund is launched as a venture between the awards body and the Sun Yat-Sen Cultural Foundation, a charitable organization founded by descendants of 20th century Chinese leader Sun Yat-sen.

The first recipient is “The Cave,” a treatment for a feature documentary about five women doctors who work in an underground hospital in war-torn Syria. The film is written and directed by Feras Fayyad. The announcement was made Thursday, during the APSA ceremony in Brisbane Australia.

Selection of the winner was made by a committee involving producer and sales agent Alexandra Sun, festival selector Philip Cheah, and APSA founding chairman Des Power. “(‘The Cave’) is a film that exudes compassion, the best of the human spirit at a time of the worst in human behavior,” said Sun.

“This grant also aligns with our aim to promote and celebrate cultural diversity of the world’s most culturally rich region,” said chair of the APSAs and its Academy, Michael Hawkins.

APSA already present four development bursaries, worth $25,000 each, in an alliance with the Motion Picture Association. These are only open to member of the APSA Academy, a body made up of past APSA prize-winners.

This year’s MPA APSA Academy Film Fund recipients are producer Ifa Isfansyah, director Kamila Andini (Indonesia) for “Yuni”; producer Olga Khlasheva, director Adilkhan Yerzhanov (Kazakhstan) for “Hell is Empty and All The Devils Are Here”; Thai producer Mai Meksawan and director Uruphong Raksasad for “Worship”; and director, producer, and screenwriter Semih Kaplanoglu (Turkey) for “Asli.”

The MPA APSA fund has this year been behind three Cannes competition films “Wild Pear Tree,” “Ayka,” and “Burning.” it also supported two in Venice, “The River,” and “Memories of my Body.” Payman Maadi’s “Bomb! A Love Story” also premiered this year.

This year’s Golden Leopard-winning film at Locarno was a product of the APSA Lab, Yeo Siew Hua’s “A Land Imagined.“