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Bong Joon-ho’s ‘Parasite’ Wins Best Film at Asia Pacific Screen Awards

Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite,” which earlier this year won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, on Thursday added the Asia Pacific Screen Award for best film to its burgeoning trophy cabinet. “Parasite” producer Jang Young-hwan was on hand to accept the award at the end of a ritzy ceremony in Brisbane, Australia.

The APSAs, now in their 13th edition, like to celebrate the diversity and artistic expression of the 70 countries in its remit, and they usually spread around the awards to avoid clustering around a single winner. So it proved again this year.

While “Parasite” predictably took the top award, Russia’s “Beanpole” was the numerical winner and the only film to claim two of the APSAs stunning glass vessel prizes. Directed by Kantemir Balagov, “Beanpole” was rewarded for best screenplay (Balagov, Alexander Terekhov) and achievement in cinematography (Ksenia Sereda).

At the nominations stage, Chinese drama “So Long, My Son” had emerged as the favorite with an unusual six nominations. But in the end, it came away empty-handed. “Parasite,” in contrast, was only shortlisted in a single category.

Its best picture win may reflect the groundswell of international support for Bong and the very real possibility that “Parasite” will receive Oscar nominations in multiple Academy Awards categories, not simply the best international feature section. It is also propelled by a swelling North American box office, which now stands at $14.8 million.

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Australia’s Rod Rathjen won the best youth film award for his “Buoyancy” and went on to deliver the evening’s most moving speech. The film is a fact-based fictional depiction of human trafficking and modern-day slavery in South East Asia’s commercial fishing industry.

“The inspiration for this film was the stories of the survivors who worked on these trawlers. They broke my heart again and again and hopefully by making this film we can make a difference,” Rathjen said from the podium. The film plays next at the International Film Festival and Awards Macao.

Social affairs were also highlighted by the best documentary award which went to Israeli documentary “Advocate.” The film is a look at the life and work of Jewish-Israeli lawyer Lea Tsemel who has represented political prisoners for nearly 50 years. “I’m stunned because I could not imagine we made a local film for our society… we couldn’t know that we would reach such a broad public… I’m really thankful for APSA,” said co-director Philippe Bellaiche.

13th Asia Pacific Screen Awards – Winners
Best Feature Film
“Parasite” d. Bong Joon-ho (South Korea)

Jury Grand Prize
Elia Suleiman for “It Must Be Heaven” (Palestine)

Best Youth Feature Film
“Buoyancy” d. Rod Rathjen (Australia)

Best Animated Feature Film
“Weathering With You” d. Makoto Shinkai (Japan)

Best Documentary Feature Film
“Advocate” dirs. Rachel Leah Jones, Philippe Bellaiche (Israel)

Achievement In Directing
Adilkhan Yerzhanov dor “A Dark, Dark Man” (Kazakhstan)

Best Screenplay
Kantemir Balagov, Alexander Terekhov for “Beanpole” (Russia)

Achievement In Cinematography
Ksenia Sereda for “Beanpole” (Russia)

Best Performance By An Actress
Max Eigenmann for “Verdict” (Philippines)

Best Performance By An Actor
Manoj Bajpayee for “Bhonsle” (India)

Cultural Diversity Award Under The Patronage Of UNESCO
“Rona, Azim’s Mother” d. Jamshid Mahmoudi (Iran)

FIAPF Award for outstanding achievement in film in the Asia Pacific region.
Katriel Schory (Israel)

Young Cinema Award (NETPAC and Griffith Film School)
Ridham Janve for “The Gold-Laden Sheep and The Sacred Mountain” (India)

10th MPA APSA Academy Film Fund Recipients
– Delphine Garde-Mroueh & Nadia Eliewat (UAE/France) for “The Station”
– Rachel Leah Jones (Israel/U.S.) for “Reality Bites”
– Catherine Fitzgerald (New Zealand) for “Sweet Lips”
– Dechen Roder (Bhutan) for “I, The Song”

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