Thai producer Soros Sukhum (“By The Time It Gets Dark,” “Concrete Clouds”) was Thursday honored with the FIAPF Award for outstanding achievement in film in the Asia Pacific region. The prize was presented as part of a heavily revamped Asia Pacific Screen Awards ceremony, at Gold Coast in Australia’s Queensland.

The Young Cinema Award was won by Indian filmmaker Akshay Indikar for “Chronicle of Space” (“Sthalpuran”), with a special mention going to Australia’s Stephen Maxwell Johnson for “High Ground.”

Earlier this year the APSA Awards event’s future had seemed deeply clouded due to twin hits from financial problems and the coronavirus. Normally, a dozen prizes are awarded to artistic films from across the vast UNESCO-defined Asia region.

In June, the Brisbane City Council and its offshoot Brisbane Marketing, notified APSA organizers that they would not be able to fund the event due to the impact of the coronavirus on the city’s budget.

The slimmed down event was subsequently put together with the support of state film body Screen Queensland, in partnership with Home of The Arts, FIAPF, NETPAC, Griffith Film School and the Motion Picture Association. It nevertheless became a weeklong series of panel and roundtable events delivered both in person and digitally, with participants from 18 countries.

The final night awards presentation was hosted by Iranian-born Australian presenter Leila McKinnon, and attended by Jack Thompson, veteran actor and president of the APSA Academy.

Sukhum is a pioneer of the Thai independent film movement and helped launch the careers of a generation of artistic and experimental filmmakers, including Aditya Assarat, Sivaroj Kongsakul, Anocha Suwichakornpong, and Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit.

He also co-produced Cambodia’s “Diamond Island” by Davy Chou, Singapore’s “Pop Aye” by Kirsten Tan, and the anthology “Ten Years Thailand,” made between Hong Kong, Japan and Thailand. His latest film is the yet-to-be released “Memoria,” the Colombian-set, English language debut of Palme d’Or-winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

“Chronicle of Space,” which premiered at the Berlinale 2020, is a young boy’s story, told through his diary entries as he copes with change and loss in a new life immersed in the natural world on India’s Konkan coast.

The Young Cinema jury said: “Akshay Indikar has a real and rare cinematic vision. Using breath-taking imagery and intricate soundscapes, his film took the jury on a multi-layered journey of discovery evolving through the perspective of sublime innocence.” Indikar also co-wrote, edited and did sound design on the film.

Maxwell Johnson’s “High Ground,” which also premiered in Berlin, is a gripping frontier western set in remote Arnhem Land and starring Jacob Junior Nayinggul, Jack Thompson and Simon Baker. It screened in September for the Indigenous communities Gunbalanya and Yirrkala where it was shot, and will have a commercial release in Australia in 2021.

The MPA APSA Academy Film Fund presented four bursaries of $25 000 each to projects at early stage of script development. Producer Bianca Balbuena of the Philippines received a grant for her project “Viet and Nam” (“Vietnam”), a collaboration with Vietnamese writer-director, Minh Quy Truong. France’s Guillaume de Seille received the grant for “A Kid on the Block” (Japan), the magical realism feature debut of documentary filmmaker Miyake Kyoko. Annemarie Jacir (“Wajib”) from Palestine received the grant for her project “All Before You.” Last year’s APSA Young Cinema Award winner Ridham Janve from India received the grant for his project “The Sacrifice” (“Ashwamedh”).

“In a year that has seen the world of cinema put on dramatic pause, it was thrilling to see the APSA 2020 award presentation and forum reinvigorate filmmakers right across our region,” said CEO of Screen Queensland and APSA chair Tracey Vieira. “The creative energy, diversity and dynamism of all involved demonstrated that the future of screen stories in our region will continue to shine brighter and brighter.”