Asia Pacific Screen Awards, 2021

GOLD COAST, QLD, Australia

#APSA2021

Drive My Car, Rehana, Drover’s Wife winners at 14th Asia Pacific Screen Awards

BEST FEATURE FILM, and BEST SCREENPLAY “Drive My Car” (Japan)

The APSA International Jury said “In his potent drama of secrets and trauma, Ryusuke Hamaguchi x-rays his damaged characters, each haunted by their past, as he incisively explores ideas of love, desire, infidelity, guilt and atonement. The result is an indelible film of immense power.

Ryusuke Hamaguchi thanked his cast and crew and said “I’m deeply honoured that our film was selected not only for the Best Screenplay but also for the Best Feature Film at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards. I’d like to thank Mr. Haruki Murakami for his original work. Our film is based on his novel ‘Drive My Car’. We made many changes to the original, and Mr. Murakami let us write freely. We deeply appreciate Mr. Murakami’s decision to share his story with us. Also, I’d like to thank Mr. Takamasa Oe, our co-writer, for his advice and support. Without his presence and contribution, the screenplay would never be completed.”

This is Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s second Screenplay APSA after winning the award for Happy Hour in 2016 with co-writers Tadashi Nohara and Tomoyuki Takahashi.

The 14th APSA Ceremony, presented from HOTA (Home of the Arts) on Australia’s beautiful Gold Coast saw ten films from eleven countries and areas of Asia Pacific receive awards, with the event also marking the official opening of the 3rd Asia Pacific Screen Forum (Nov 11-16). 

Two JURY GRAND PRIZES  were awarded in 2021 with one going to Abdullah Mohammad Saad, director of Rehana (Rehana Maryam Noor), for “the precision of its filmmaking language which made it possible, by the only specific means of cinema, to detail the psychological and factual stages of a woman’s fight for justice and to reveal, in an absolutely remarkable ending, how she prepares her little girl to be courageous and to fight all forms of injustice.” 

Abdullah Mohammad Saad said “We are thrilled, we are excited. I must say, the film is the result of an incredible team effort. I am grateful to my brilliant cast and crew. I am sure I wouldn’t be receiving this award without their sacrifice and commitment, so all the credit goes to them.

Rehana star Azmeri Haque Badhon was awarded BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS for this outstanding film. In her acceptance speech, Azmeri Haque Badhon dedicated the film to “those in my country and around the world who are deprived from their freedom, rights, and feel lost every moment.”

This is the second film from Bangladesh to be awarded the APSA Jury Grand Prize, after Mostofa Sarwar Farooki’s Television in 2013.

The APSA Jury Grand Prize was also awarded to Goa-Gunggari-Wakka Wakka Murri Woman Leah Purcell for her debut feature The Drover’s Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson. The International Jury said “Not just for her singular vision in writing, directing, producing and starring in the film but for the journey to bring this remarkable story, viewed through the lens of a First Nations woman to the screen in its entirety, in what is not only an artist’s total dedication to her craft but also a spirited act of courage and tenacity. The Drover’s Wife is a film that quickly makes its way into the heart, taking a well known genre, and exploding it into a much needed story of survival, loss, and resilience.” This is the first APSA Jury Grand Prize awarded to an Australian. 

In accepting the Prize, Leah Purcell said “Thankyou to the 14th Asia Pacific Screen Awards and their prestigious Jury for your recognition of my effort in making this film, the many hats that I wore and the voice that I had given it as a First Nations woman. Truly, thankyou for this validation. Ma altjeringa yirra Baiame. Thanks to the ancestors for this very moment.

Iranian auteur Asghar Farhadi was awarded ACHIEVEMENT IN DIRECTING for A Hero (Ghahreman) which the International Jury called “an intimate epic. Asghar Farhadi continues to perfect the fine art of making cinema that is hyper local yet also globally understood and universally loved.

ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY went to Nguyễn Vinh Phúc for Taste (Vị), with the film’s director Lê Bảo awarded the Young Cinema Award in partnership with NETPAC and GFS. In accepting the awards, Nguyễn thanked director Lê Bảo and his team on the film saying “I think this award is the sweet fruits dedicated to the entire film crew, and I am just the lucky one to represent everyone to receive this.”

The International Jury said “Taste has remarkable cinematography, it’s beautiful humility serves the film’s compassion for the poor, where nudity expresses destitution, fragility and consolation.”

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR was awarded to Georgian actor Merab Ninidze for Alexy German Jr’s House Arrest (Delo) with the International Jury calling his performance “simply extraordinary in this biting satire on political repression; somehow managing to simultaneously convey bravery, rage and a wicked sense of humour. Though physically constrained within an apartment for the largest part of the film, there are no bounds to this masterful, explosive performance.” 

The five-member International Jury was comprised of President, French/Vietnamese filmmaker Trần Anh Hùng, leading Palestinian filmmaker Annemarie Jacir, Director of Sydney Film Festival Nashen Moodley (Australia), Indian photographer, screenwriter and filmmaker Sooni Taraporevala and President of Heaven Pictures and Director of China Film Foundation – Wu Tianming Film Fund for Young Talents, Janet Wu (People’s Republic of China). 

Meanwhile, the three-member Youth, Animation, Documentary International Jury determined the winners for Best Youth Feature Film, Best Animated Feature Film and Best Documentary Feature Film. Jury Chair Anocha Suwichakornpong (Thailand) was joined by Screen International Deputy Asia Editor and Korea Correspondent Jean Noh (Republic of Korea) and internationally sought-after New Zealand animator, Antony Elworthy. 

BEST YOUTH FEATURE FILM was awarded to director Yoon Dan-bi for Moving On (Nam-mae-wui Yeo-reum-bam, Republic of Korea) who acknowledged the common language of cinema in her thanks for the Award saying “the fact that the cinema is still moving forward gives me the motivation to work on the next project.”

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM went to Andrey Khrzhanovsky’s The Nose or The Conspiracy of Mavericks (Nos ili zagovor netakikh, Russian Federation) with the Jury noting how the film stood out amongst the strong field of animated films with its originality, and clear and powerful message, and, skillfully realised with traditional animation techniques, yet with a post-modern twist. 

In accepting the Award, filmmaker Andrey Khrzhanovsky spoke of the significance of this prize. “It is a really great honour for me. It is very important to receive this Prize here in Asia, because Asian culture and art is a great phenomenon in general.” 

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE FILM was awarded to Sabaya (Sweden). Filmmaker Hogir Hirori said “This award is not only an important recognition of everything that the ISIS survivors have been through but it also brings much needed attention to the fight to save the more than 2000 Yazidi women and girls that are still held captive by ISIS and reunite them with their families.

Two special awards representing APSA’s founding partnerships with UNESCO and FIAPF were announced last week. 

THE CULTURAL DIVERSITY AWARD under the patronage of UNESCO is awarded to Sri Lanka’s Prasanna Vithanage for Children of the Sun (Gaadi). Despite many previous APSA nominations for Sri Lankan films, this award marks the first win. Revered filmmaker Prasanna Vithanage said “I am extremely happy to receive this award today. Gaadi has been a dream project for me. I have been working for thirty years for this project. Today I would like to thank the entire team of Gaadi who contributed to give a long-due dignity to a group of people who have been treated as human dust in Sri Lanka.

The FIAPF AWARD for Outstanding Contribution to Asia Pacific Cinema, determined by APSA founding partner FIAPF–International Federation of Film Producers Associations, was awarded to prolific Russian producer, Sergey Selyanov.

The four recipients of MPA APSA ACADEMY FILM FUND GRANTS were also announced during the APSA Ceremony. 

Now in its 12th year, the Fund was created to support the development of new feature film projects by APSA Academy members and their colleagues from the culturally diverse Asia Pacific region. The fund awards four development grants of US$25,000 annually, and is wholly supported by the MPA. In 2021, the four recipients are: 

Dea Kulumbegashvili (Georgia) for HISTORIA

Rakhshan Bani-Etemad (Islamic Republic of Iran) for RED MIST DESCENDING 

Teng Mangansakan (Philippines) for THE SPELLCASTER OF TAMONTACA 

Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Thailand) for 9 TEMPLES TO HEAVEN 

About cynephilia

Lifetime student of and devourer of international Cinema. Artist, teacher, traveller - especially to my "other home", Java, Indonesia. Features writer for 14 years, for The Jakarta Post, national English language daily newspaper. I was born in New Zealand, but lived in Queensland, Australia since 1970. My profound link with Indonesia began in 1983, when visiting Bali (then an island of arts and of inspiration for an artist), and then again in 1994 when a visit to Yogyakarta, Java, began a process of that town and it's warm people becoming another home and extended family for me. Yogyakarta is the Artistic capital of Indonesia, and so it was the place for me. In 2000 I became a regular contributor about the arts for The Jakarta Post, and cinema, my lifetime passion, later began to become my focus for writing. The advent of The Asia Pacific Screen Awards, (APSA) in South East Queensland, launched in 2007 gave me opportunities to meet some the great film-makers of Asia, and see their amazing work. APSA is a kind of "Oscars" for the Asia-Pacific Region.
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