Samson & Delilah, produced by Kath Shelper and from the host country of Australia, has won the best feature category at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA), held Nov 26 on the Gold Coast.

The directors of two other movies that were best film nominees – Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi and Israeli filmmaker Eliz Sulieman – shared the grand jury prize for About Elly and The Time That Remains, the first film from the Palestinian Territories to be nominated in these three-year-old awards.

The grand jury prize is awarded at the discretion of the judges. Farhadi was also acknowledged for his screenplay.

A fourth best film nominee out of the five selected, City Of Life And Death from China, earned Lu Chuan the top prize in the category for directing.

Other significant award winners included best animated film Mary & Max, from Australia, and best children’s film, A Brand New Life, from Korea. Producer Lee Chang-dong won the best feature award in the first APSA ceremony with Secret Sunshine.

Japanese producer Isao Matsuoka was on hand to accept the FIAPF Award for outstanding achievement in film and Thai director Uruphong Raksasad won the UNESCO Award for Agrarian Utopia.

The UNESCO Award recognises outstanding contribution to the promotion and preservation of cultural diversity through film, one of APSA’s key judging criteria. Another is excellence.

Organisers aim to focus more attention on a region that produces half the world’s cinema and foster co-productions. There appeared to be a lot of bonding happening among the many visiting filmmakers, especially when they went koala cuddling at a nearby wildlife sanctuary – APSA has just forged a partnership with the Australian Koala Foundation.

Early today 40 new members – past nominees, jury members and others – were inducted into the Academy of the Asia Pacific Screen Awards and the APSA NETPAC development prize was presented to Baek Seung-bin, who was nominated in the screenplay category for Korean film Members Of A Funeral.

The winners in the third annualAsiaPacific Screen Awards are:

Best feature film: Samson & Delilah (Australia), producer Kath Shelper

Jury grand prize: (shared) Elia Suleiman, director, The Time That Remains (Palestinian Territories/France/Italy/Belgium/UK); Asghar Farhadi, director, About Elly (Iran)

Best actor: Masahiro Motoki, Departures (Japan)

Best actress: Kim Hye-ja, Mother (South Korea)

Achievement in directing, Lu Chuan, City of Life and Death (China)

Achievement in cinematography: Cao Yu, City of Life and Death (China)

Best screenplay: Asghar Farhadi, About Elly (Iran)

Best documentary feature: Defamation (Israel/Austria/Denmark/US), producers Knut Ogris, Karoline Leth, Sandra Itkoff, Philippa Kowarsky

Best animated feature film: Mary and Max (Australia), producer Melanie Coombs

Best children’s feature film: A Brand New Life (South Korea/France), producers Lee Chang-dong, Laurent Lavole, Lee Joon-dong

UNESCO award: Agrarian Utopia (Thailand), writter, director, producer Uruphong Raksasad.

FIAPF award for outstanding achievement in film, Isao Matsuoka (Japan)

High commendations:

Performance by an actor: Yang Ik-june, Breathless

Cinematography: Alisher Khamidhodjaev, Maxim Drozdov, Paper Soldier

Children’s feature: Tahaan: A Boy with a Grenade, producers Shripal Morakhia, Mubina Rattonsey

Documentary feature: Gandhi’s Children, producer David MacDougall