The Asia Pacific Screen Awards (Nov 23) shines the spotlight on a vast region that organisers say does not always receive the attention it deserves. Sandy George reports

The nominations for this year’s Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSAs) are as diverse as the 70 territories covered by the prizes. They also highlight film-making success stories across those countries, with nominations for the highest-grossing local independent Filipino film (Marlon Rivera’s The Woman In The Septic Tank), Japan’s biggest local hit of 2011 (Goro Miyazaki’s From Up On Poppy Hill) and the highest-grossing film of all time at the Pakistan box office (Shoaib Mansoor’s Bol). They also include festival favourites such as Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs Of Wasseypur and Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi’s documentary 5 Broken Cameras.

The 34 nominated films come from 18 countries, all within an area that stretches from Egypt to the Cook Islands and from Russia to New Zealand. They reflect the wide-ranging remit of the APSAs, which was set up six years ago by chair Des Power to celebrate the cinema of a part of the world that was not getting due recognition, thereby helping titles to find bigger audiences. At the time, Power was head of marketing body Queensland Events and was able to convince the Queensland government that the awards could showcase the state. The intention is that the ceremony will travel, and its profile has certainly risen every year.

After five years on Queensland’s Gold Coast, the ceremony this year moves to Brisbane. Some 50-100 overseas guests - film-makers, sales agents and jury members - are expected to attend.

‘We are extremely transparent and proud of our voting system’

Maxine Williamson, APSA

Turkish producer Zeynep Ozbatur Atakan says she felt the synergy between producers and directors at last year’s ceremony where she was awarded the grand jury prize for Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Once Upon A Time In Anatolia. This year Atakan is on the international jury, headed by Australian producer Jan Chapman. “Surely with the prizes we can reach more people in Europe, in the US and additionally in Asia,” Atakan says.

APSA winners and nominees automatically become part of the Asia Pacific Screen Academy. All members are eligible for annual film development grants from APSA, which administers funds provided by the Motion Picture Association and Manila-based production company 4 Boys Films. APSA also takes a proactive role in helping the nominated film-makers to network. For example a meeting at Cannes 2012 between Atakan and Sergei Dvortsevoy, who directed the APSA prize-winner Tulpan, was arranged by APSA artistic director Maxine Williamson.

This year 264 films were under consideration, either invited or submitted by an APSA/FIAPF affiliated organisation. Academy members determine documentary, children’s and animation winners after seeing the films online via a secure viewing platform. The other categories go through pre-selection committees then an eight-person nominations council, chaired by Korean film-maker and academic Kim Hong-joon.

“We are extremely transparent and proud of our voting system,” says Williamson. “We have as many different regions represented on the council as possible so that cultural considerations are taken into account. There is a good deal of deliberation and rigour.”

Asia Pacific Screen Awards 2012 nominees


Nameless Gangster: Rules Of The Time (S Kor)
Bear (Iran)
The Horde (Rus)
Beyond The Hill (Tur-Gr)
Wu Xia (HK-Chi)


My Australia (Pol-Isr)
Gattu (Ind)
I Wish (Jap)
The Mirror Never Lies (Indo)
Off White Lies (Isr)


5 Broken Cameras (Isr-Pal-Fr)
In My Mother’s Arms (Iraq-UK-Neth)
The Land Beneath The Fog (Indo-Ger)
Planet Of Snail (S Kor-Jap-Fin)
The Law In These Parts (Isr-US-Ger)


Happy Feet Two (Aus-US)
From Up On Poppy Hill (Jap)
A Letter To Momo (Jap)
Rainbow Fireflies (Jap)
Wolf Children (Jap)


Anurag Kashyap Gangs Of Wasseypur (Ind)
Brillante Mendoza Thy Womb (Phil)
Cheng Er Lethal Hostage (Chi)
Khosro Masoumi Bear (Iran)
Reis Celik Night Of Silence (Tur)


Cheng Er Lethal Hostage (Chi)
Chris Martinez The Woman In The Septic Tank (Phil)
Emin Alper Beyond The Hill (Tur-Gr)
Reis Celik Night Of Silence (Tur)
Shoaib Mansoor Bol (Pak)


Charin Pengpanich Bunohan: Return To Murder (Mal)
Chin Ting-Chang Warriors Of The Rainbow: Seediq Bale (Tai)
Jake Pollock, Lai Yiu-fai Wu Xia (HK-Chi)
Touraj Aslani Rhino Season (Iraqi Kurd-Tur)
Yury Raysky The Horde (Rus)


Choi Min-sik Nameless Gangster: Rules Of The Time (S Kor)
Lior Ashkenazi Footnote (Isr)
Manoj Bajpayee Gangs Of Wasseypur (Ind)
Tamer Levent Beyond The Hill (Tur-Gr)
Wu Tianming Full Circle (Chi)


Cho Min-soo Pieta (S Kor)
Darya Ekamasova Once Upon A Time There Lived A Simple Woman (Rus)
Humaima Malick Bol (Pak)
Nora Aunor Thy Womb (Phil)
Vidya Balan The Dirty Picture (Ind)