Indonesian director Kamila Andini’s “Before Now and Then” was named best film at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards. The film’s lead actor Happy Salma was on hand to receive the award at a ceremony in Gold Coast, Australia, on Friday.
The film recounts the story of a young woman who escapes an anti-Communist purge and leads a quiet life as the second wife of a wealthy man. But her past traumas resurface in her dreams.
Although the win is the first time that an Indonesian title has been named APSA’s best film, and the first time that a woman has claimed the prize, it is the third time that Andini has won a feature film APSA. Previously, she won the best children’s film prize with “The Mirror Never Lies” in 2012 and collected the youth feature film prize with “The Seen and Unseen” in 2017.
Other key prizes on Friday went to Indonesian critic-turned-filmmaker Makbul Mubarak who won the APSA for best screenplay for “Autobiography”; Niklas Lindschau who won the APSA for best cinematography for “The Stranger” (aka “Al Garib”) from Palestine; and to French-Cambodian Davy Chou won the best director prize for “Return to Seoul.”
The APSA’s acting awards have gone gender neutral this year. The new best performance award went to Korean female actor Lee Jeong-eun (“Parasite,” “Okja”) for her role in “ Hommage” (aka “Omaju”). The best new performer award also went to a Korean woman, Park Ji-min in “Return to Seoul,” the only film to win multiple awards on the night.
The APSA Jury Grand Prize was given to “This is What I Remember” (aka “Esimde”) from Kyrgyzstan director Aktan Arym Kubat.
The best documentary prize was awarded to India’s “All That Breathes.” The APSA for best youth film went to Jordan’s “Farha,” directed by Darin J Sallam. Armenia’s “Aurora’s Sunrise,” the story of a forgotten genocide survivor turned silent Hollywood film star and philanthropist, won the APSA for best animated film.
Also announced during the APSA Ceremony were the four recipients of the 2022 MPA APSA Academy Film Fund grants, worth $25,000 each. They are: Khadija Al Salami (Yemen/France) for “I Wish I Were a Girl”; Kirby Atkins (New Zealand) for “Levity Jones”; Anne Kohncke (Norway) for “A Disturbed Earth”; and Lai Weijie Lai (Singapore) for “The Sea Is Calm Tonight.”
After losing the financial backing of Brisbane during COVID, the APSA events are in recovery mode. They moved from Brisbane to Gold Coast, kept visitor numbers tight and made use of the newish Home of the Arts complex that has been built since the APSAs were first on the Gold Coast in their early days.
With the continuing support of bodies including Screen Queensland, the Motion Picture Association and Griffith University, the APSAs were nevertheless able to maintain a screening series running over several days and a program of industry-focused seminars.
It was the first time in three years that the ceremony was held with nominees able to attend in person. Under COVID conditions, Queensland’s strict border policies meant that even out-of-state Australian were not able to attend.
This time in-person guests included: MPA Asia Pacific president and MD Belinda Lui; star Filipino actor John Lloyd Cruz; Australian filmmakers Todd Fellman, Chris Amos and Katrina Iriwati Graham; Tearepa Kahi, director of New Zealand’s Oscar contender “Muru”; Thai producer Mai Meksawan; and Korean director Shin Su-won.
While the event was able to celebrate a return to in-person activities, the awards dinner symbolically held open an empty chair for the many Asia-Pacific filmmakers who are currently help prisoner by their governments. Of particular note was Iran’s Jafar Panahi, who was on the jury of the first APSA Awards in 2007 and is currently in jail.
Previously announced APSA awards included: the Cultural Diversity Award Under The Patronage Of UNESCO which went to “Muru”; the Young Cinema Award in partnership with NETPAC and Griffith Film School, which was awarded to Saim Sadiq for Joyland (Pakistan); and the FIAPF Award which went to Lebanese filmmaker Nadine Labaki.