APSA Winners Announced
Winners in the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, the region’s highest accolade in film in 2008, were announced tonight at a special ceremony on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. More than 700 film industry luminaries from the Asia-Pacific region, Europe and the United States attended the ceremony.
Thirty two (32) films representing 17 countries were finalists in the Awards, with winners coming from Kazakhstan, Israel, Republic of Korea, Australia, Turkey, Islamic Republic of Iran, People’s Republic of China and India.
The Awards were determined by an International Jury headed by Academy Award nominated Australian Director Bruce Beresford.
The Best Feature Film award was won by TULPAN (Kazakhstan/Russian Federation/ Switzerland/Poland/Germany). The Award was accepted by Producer, Karl Baumgartner. Karl Baumgartner shares the Award with fellow Producers Valerie Fischer, Gulnara Sarsenova, Sergey Selyanov, Henryk Romanowski, Sergey Melkumov, Bulat Galimgereyev, Elena Yatsura, Thanassis Karathanos and Raimond Goebel.
“Tulpan is a very skilfully structured narrative telling the most unusual story and with great subtlety. The characterisations are really quite superb and done in a lot of detail and it has tremendous humour.” – Bruce Beresford (Jury President)
“The director syllogistically used an approach to make this very powerful story come to life. I really appreciated the film a lot.” – Hanna Lee (Jury Member)
“This is a movie that touches me the most. This story is really tragic and stirring; however it has expressed a kind of respectful humanistic emotion of a person in front of great social change. The director does not intentionally use techniques to deliberately cause a documentary effect for his movie. He uses a lot of lens sceneries and makes great efforts to let the audience see a natural ecology. I believe what he does would give many young director’s some revelation, that is, you must first be familiar with human emotions before you can paint such a lively picture of them.” – Professor Zheng Dongtian (Jury Member)
Best Animated Feature Film was won by VALS IM BASHIR (WALTZ WITH BASHIR, Israel/France/Germany). Producer Yael Nahlieliaccepted the Award. Yael Nahlielishares the Award with fellowproducers Ari Folman, Serge Lalou, Gerhard Meixner and Roman Paul.
“Waltz with Bashir, I think is very important because A) It is very well crafted and secondly, it’s a very wonderful anti-war film and it talks about the futility of war and how often when young people are involved in the war they don’t even know why they are fighting the war. It is an Israeli film, also it’s very against the atrocities on Palestine which makes it extremely significant.” – Aparna Sen (Jury Member)
“This is a very powerful film.” – Bruce Beresford (Jury President)
Best Documentary Feature Film was GGEUTNAJI ANHMEUN JEON JAENG (63 YEARS ON, Republic of Korea). The Award was accepted by Producer/Director Kim Dong-won, who shares the Award with Producer Lee SeungGu.
“Well I felt very special about 63 Years On because generally documentaries about past political atrocities don’t particularly, I wouldn’t say they don’t affect me, but I just sometimes feel that the past should be the past and we’ve been through it. But 63 Years On tackled the subject, I was aware of it but not as familiar with it and I just felt in the end a huge compassion for all the women who had gone through this ordeal and that I just felt emotionally drawn into the filmmaker’s conclusion which was that the Japanese should apologise for this which is completely against how I normally feel in every situation, so I felt that I had been swayed in a very dramatic way by the film to change my philosophy of watching those sorts of films.” – Richard Rothschild (Jury Member)
“I was really amazed by the way the director brought out this really provocative subject matter and not making it too overly done in terms of making it too sentimental or just out there and I really was impressed by the way he didn’t just focus on the Korean women and going to different regions giving a reason why their voice had to be out.” – Hanna Lee (Jury Member)
“Well 63 Years On was chosen because it speaks for women all over the world. What they have to go through when men from the other side are on a rampage and I think it’s a problem that needs to be addressed and it has been addressed in this film.” – Aparna Sen (Jury Member)
“The topic of this movie or documentary is Asia specific. While you watch this movie you could not help thinking of such a question, which is “why in the whole half century, in the 50 years’ time, these 250,000 “comfort women” did not say anything about, and neither did anybody else come up to say anything about their sufferings and misery?” The movie really makes people think why this problem is brought up only after 50 long years. This is a very important matter in itself. You will be able to feel how painful it is for them to bury their sufferings and trauma so deep in their hearts for 50 years, and you will feel the weight of the problem. I think this is what you can feel. And I also think this movie can represent the good conscience of Asian movie makers.” – Professor Zheng Dongtian (Jury Member)
Best Children’s Feature Film was THE BLACK BALLOON (Australia). The Award was accepted by Producer Tristram Miall and Director/Writer/Co-Producer Elissa Down. They share the Award with Co-Producers Sally Ayre-Smith, Jimmy The Exploder and Mark Turnbull.
“The Black Balloon is really a very well made film; it’s a very accomplished film and wonderful acting by both the boys and young girl. There was some talk of whether it was a children’s film but I think that you know if the category is up to 16 years then from about 12 to 16 I think it’s perfect for them, I mean it’s fine for them. We tend to think that children tend to like childish films and I think often grown ups tend to patronise them and this doesn’t do that.” – Aparna Sen (Jury Member)
“It’s very well directed by a young woman and it’s a study of family and the young son’s enormous problem with coping with his autistic brother, with the whole family’s problem of coping with the autistic brother. The performances are really wonderful. It’s very well done.” – Bruce Beresford (Jury President)
“I felt the The Black Balloon had some of the most incredible performances by young actors that I’ve seen in a very long time.” – Richard Rothschild (Jury Member)
“The Black Balloon is the most in-depth movie that I have ever seen that tells about a story of a family that has a disabled child, or a story that tells the audience that we should treat kindly disabled people. When I watched this movie for the first time, I said that it should be seen by all the families in the world, all the adults and all the children. Generally, children’s movies would have some education purposes, however, the education purposes of this particular movie is totally dissolved in the story itself, without telling people such general things like what to do or how to deal with… therefore it really touches people just like the story in your family or in my family or in everybody’s family, so it is especially suitable for the whole family to sit together and watch it.” – Professor Zheng Dongtian (Jury Member)
Achievement in Directing was awarded to Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan for UC MAYMUN (THREE MONKEYS, Turkey/France/Italy).
“It’s an extremely well scripted and very thoughtfully directed film of really enormous power and great subtlety in the relationships and like all really great films, it doesn’t put all its cards on the table at once and you can never quite predict which way it’s going to go.” – Bruce Beresford (Jury President)
“Three Monkeys, I thought was a wonderful film. I really think that the director has handled the acting, the choreography of the film, has given direction to the way the cinematography should be, therefore it’s often de-saturated and dark and I think that goes extremely well with the mode of the film. The director has handled the conflicting emotions in unsentimental yet sympathetic ways. It’s a very sophisticated film.” – Aparna Sen (Jury Member)
“Brilliant craftsmanship. For me I thought it was impeccable. The cinematography, the composition, the way that the story developed, the actors were brilliant and the texture that they gave, not only in terms of emotion but visually it was just amazing. I thought it was a really, really good piece of work.” – Hanna Lee (Jury Member)
“Three Monkeys is, I should say, among all the movies that I have seen in this APSA’s, the one whose director has demonstrated the highest levels of skills and strongest capabilities of a movie director. He has made such a simple “closed world” story, a story of a family of three people, into such an attractive movie that can make us fully concentrate all our attention on the movie from the beginning to the end. This is because of his ability to control, to control the pictures, to control the actors, to control the whole movie, to control its rhythm, to control its music and to control everything. In every aspect, it has reached a very high level. The director is revealing his understanding and knowledge of his characters’ inner personal world. I think this director well deserves the award for achievement in directing.“ – Professor Zheng Dongtian (Jury Member)
The Best Screenplay Award was presented to Suha Arraf for ETZ HALIMON (LEMON TREE, Israel/France/Germany). She shares the Award with Writer Eran Riklis, who also directed the film.
“I have seen many movies on the topic of conflicts between Israel and Palestine. It is very easy for the filmmakers to go on in such a way for such movies to be treated totally to serve the political purposes of the topics. However, although the topic of this movie is also very clear, which is about two persons on both sides of an iron wire netting fence, an Israeli and a Palestinian, yet when we look at this movie Lemon Tree, we have gradually forgotten the very big topic but been attracted by the story of four specific persons, who are the woman farmer and her solicitor on this side and the Defence Minister of Israel and his wife on the other side and these four persons have formed the whole conflicts between Israel and Palestine of today. Generally speaking, the audience would judge who is right, who is wrong and who should do what… whereas this movie isn’t like that. It is much deeper than that and this is about how people should treat and deal with each other, and the heroine, played by Abbass, the woman farmer, has best demonstrated how to treat the conflicts in a more humanistic way.” – Professor Zheng Dongtian (Jury Member)
“I felt that Lemon Tree really excelled at combining multiple stories simultaneously and for that reason we gave it the best screenplay award.” – Richard Rothschild (Jury Member)
“I’m particularly happy that it got the screenplay award because I thought the screenplay was very layered, it didn’t vilify any character. You had the Israeli side and the Palestinian side. It’s very well written, extremely well written. There’s a lot of dignity in the film.” – Aparna Sen (Jury Member)
“What’s interesting about the film is the sanity of it, the balance. It’s not polemical, it sees the issues on both sides and it really comes to a great understanding of what is human tragedy.” – Bruce Beresford (Jury President)
The Achievement in Cinematography was awarded to Korean Lee Mogae for JOHEUNNOM NABBEUNNOM ISANGHANNOM (THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE WEIRD, Republic of Korea).
“The photography is so bravura that I think it was irresistible. There were enormous battles scenes, chase scenes, scenes in trains and it’s just photographed with fabulous flair and the staging of all the action is not only staged well, but captured brilliantly by the cameraman and it really makes films like Indiana Jones positively amateurish.” – Bruce Beresford (Jury President)
“It’s really quite stunning, the cinematography is stunning. I don’t know how they achieved all that. It really was very, very you know full of virtuosity.” – Aparna Sen (Jury Member)
“Well my comment in the deliberations was that the cinematographer did things … I’ve done many, many action films and used just about every trick you can use in those films, but I felt that the cinematographer achieved shots that, to this day I don’t know how he did it. It was just so brilliantly and seamlessly done with a huge amount of style and I just felt that because of his ability to produce these shots that haven’t been seen before but also worked in completely with the director’s vision, I mean it was a pretty much a hands down choice.” – Richard Rothschild (Jury Member)
“A lot of hard work, a lot of creative and inventive collaboration on a big epic piece and I think there was a lot of contribution from the cinematographer. Dealing with all the constraints of shooting in China and the physical you know pressures, I think he did a really good job.” – Hanna Lee (Jury Member)
Israeli actress Hiam Abbass received the Best Performance by an Actress Award for her performance in ETZ HALIMON (LEMON TREE, Israel/France/Germany).
“She is a very beautiful Arabic woman, like many of them, having a natural quality of beauty not only in appearance but also with inner charm. The most special thing about this movie is that the actress treats this very ordinary woman, a farmer, a lemon tree grower, whose family has been lemon tree growers for generations, with low in social status, low in blood lineage and may be also low in education, as having a kind of inner nobility that cannot be deprived of or looked down upon. Her inner highness or nobleness, as well as dignity as a human being, have perfectly combined through the actress’s performance, with her contrasting low social status. This has created a shocking inner strength and power on the screen, which shows that even such a high rank officer as the Minister of Defence does not dare to bully her, to hold her in contempt or to look at her straight in the eyes so easily. This level of performance and her abilities are not to be easily matched by any other actresses.” – Professor Zheng Dongtian (Jury Member)
“In terms of the actress’s performance, it was beautifully understated, her relationship with her attorney. I think she took it really even beyond what the screenplay had achieved and just opened up the character and the conflicts of political reform and cultural clash to a place where I felt she just had completely mastered that character. In many ways it was like some of the great acting performances of all time where the actor becomes the character and you’re just completely unaware that any acting is going on whatsoever and it was just masterfully done by her.” – Richard Rothschild (Jury Member)
“An outstanding and compelling performance. Again she invests the character with so much dignity, courage and vulnerability all at the same time.” – Aparna Sen
“She was amazing. I think that she really delivered the subtle kind of emotions not totally upfront and I thought she did a superb.” – Hanna Lee (Jury Member)
“The role is played with a tremendous amount of refinement and she avoids any tendency towards melodrama and she has that great thing that great actor’s have, of conveying an enormous amount of emotion, and you can actually feel it. It kind of radiates from the screen without any perceptible change of expression and I think that her involvement in the role is so total that she gives it an intensity and a depth just through, I think the spirituality that she has, the feeling within her.” – Bruce Beresford (Jury President)
Iranian actor Reza Naji was on the Gold Coast to accept his award for Best Performance by an Actor for his performance in Majid Majidi’s AVAZE GONJESHK-HA (THE SONG OF SPARROWS, Islamic Republic of Iran).
“I thought this was a wonderful film on many levels. It’s a very, very fine film beautifully acted by the lead man who avoided every trap he could have fallen into in.” – Bruce Beresford (Jury President)
“Very realistic. You couldn’t tell if he was an actor or the actual person and that itself is a great skill and craft.” – Hanna Lee (Jury Member)
“What was fantastic about his performance was that being a father I could very often identify with what was going on in his mind without it actually being played out in a screenplay. I thought his relationship with his deaf daughter was so compassionately done that it really kind of elevated your interest in the character to a point that you were glued to the plot which was very plain and straight forward and not that unusual but yet his performance enabled you to kind of get behind his perceptions of a family and that’s really what the movie was about.” – Richard Rothschild (Jury Member)
“I probably have already seen four movies played by this actor. He is, among many Iranian actors, a very professional one, and is so good that people would think he himself is really a farmer. There are many famous actors in Iran who are good at playing the role of a farmer in a movie, yet he is the unique and the most outstanding one in that he does not only show the audience that a farmer is simply a person who is very hardworking and toils on his land because he is poverty stricken, and who may be low in education, but The Song of Sparrows has also demonstrated to the audience, through the actor, that a farmer can have his own desire, can have his own wisdom, can have his own calculation and plan, therefore can also be as smart or shrewd in some way.” – Professor Zheng Dongtian (Jury Member)
Four additional major Awards were announced for outstanding achievement.
Yash Chopra, founder of Yashraj Films and a legend of the Indian film industry, has been awarded the FIAPF Award for outstanding achievement in film in the Asia-Pacific region. The Award is determined by FIAPF – International Federation of Film Producers Associations, and was announced by Andrés Vincente Gomez, President of FIAPF, who travelled from Madrid to be at the ceremony.
The UNESCO Award for outstanding contribution to the promotion and preservation of cultural diversity through film was decided by the International Jury and awarded to the Iranian documentary feature film TINAR (Islamic Republic of Iran), produced and directed by Mahdi Moniri. The Jury noted that the film was a rich evocation of rural life in the mountainous regions of Iran.
“Tinar is I think one of the most unusual films in that there’s very little dialogue. It’s about a young boy who is basically a cow herder and yet the director took reality and just, I don’t know how he did it, but he enhanced it in such a way that you were riveted to the screen. I guess the thing that really propels you to it is people like the child have a very rough and terrible existence and yet the movie, without being preachy, convinced you that though the lifestyle was brutal, that the child was able to I guess unite with nature in a very unique way and I think you felt that somehow he became at one with the elements around him and somehow the brutality of existence and how tough it was became, just something that you accepted as opposed to rejected as a viewer. It was so beautifully shot and so beautifully done and timed, it felt as if it was a directive film and yet it was clear that it was not.“ – Richard Rothschild (Jury Member)
“It talks about this little shepherd boy, the monologue is his and it tells you about a remote area where he has a hard life and it’s beautifully shot. This little shepherd boy has a hard life. He has to work extremely hard and again there is a lot of mobility and dignity that leaves you feeling profound respect for the way of life that has been preserved in that area for many thousands of years. Beautiful film, it made me cry.” – Aparna Sen (Jury Member)
“This is a very good documentary and a good documentary needs to be real and realness is the life of a documentary movie. Sometimes the realness is not something that one can look for or find. It is something you need to wait patiently for it to happen or to appear. As far as this movie is concerned, the director waited for more than one year through all the four seasons to have everything in the movie to be observed and recorded. You can imagine that a director, with his cameras, staying and living with this boy for more than one year, to be able to shoot all the settings we see on the screen. We as an audience can now say that in some place, which is not so remote, which is in the mountains, in the outskirts not far away from Tehran, there lives such a boy called Tina, and his life in the fours reasons all the year round are spent like what you see in this movie. We can see many fine details of his life. This is what forms the greatest strength of a documentary, which is you see how other people in the world live. Currently there are more than 6 billion people living in our world and we want to know how these people live. The most important part that a documentary plays in our life is to faithfully record people’s lives.” – Professor Zheng Dongtian (Jury Member)
The Jury Grand Prize is presented at the discretion of the Jury. In 2008, the International Jury has decided to present two Jury Grand Prizes – to HONGSE KANGBAIYIN (THE RED AWN, People’s Republic of China); Directed by Cai Shangjun; and to THE PRISONER (India), Produced and Directed by Pryas Gupta and starring Best Actor nominee Rajat Kapoor.
“The two jury prizes yes, The Red Awn and The Prisoner. Red Awn is a really wonderful Chinese film, most unusual about a relationship of father and son in a remote rural area working on a harvester in the fields. Again, the father’s been away, the son is resentful and then … one of the things about it that was very nice is it never really predicted what’s going to happen. It’s a clever bit of writing and direction.” – Bruce Beresford (Jury President)
“The Red Awn was a beautiful film. A very good depiction of country life and poverty pitted against the city and class issues and personal issues and the way that the director directed that I thought it was amazing.” – Hanna Lee (Jury Member)
“The Red Awn which we all loved was beautifully shot. I don’t think there was a single shot that was not good in that film and it handled the relationship between the father and the son rather well. We felt that this film deserved a very big award. It tells us about a very little known part of the world. These people who are losers who, we don’t know about that part of China at all and films often talk about winners, but this is about losers and it does so in a very unsentimental way, in a very honest kind of way.” – Aparna Sen (Jury Member)
“The Red Awn, I felt was an extremely well crafted film that shows the dichotomy between Agrium life and urban life in China and again, presented an aspect of Chinese society that, although we hear about, we never get to experience the inner workings of characters who actually have to contend with the way that China is evolving.” – Richard Rothschild (Jury Member)
“The Red Awn is one of the movies made by China’s young directors who show great concerns about the life of ordinary peasants. This is the director’s first movie. He was originally a very good screenplay writer. The Chinese peasants of the Northwest who leave their home to go to other places, like birds migrating for seasons, to help others with their harvest has been a tradition of the Chinese peasants for hundreds of years. However, in the past, very few people have written stories about this tradition. Still fewer have written such a story about people in two different generations and about their struggle to rebuild their relationship through hard labour. Furthermore, the story is actually not written to really mean a story about hard labour itself. It is written to serve as a mirror to reflect, from such a very small story, the large background of China’s society – in terms of such a situation that in the past thirty years, China’s peasants have migrated from countryside to cities, looking for jobs and a good life and then failed and have come back to countryside again. This historic process has also involved two generations – when the son also goes to the city in order to find work, he finally understands what his father had experienced and how he pulled himself through in some twenty years’ time. I should say that this kind of plot is really very cultural, well designed and very vivid.” – Zheng Dongtian (Jury Member)
“The Prisoner is an Indian film extremely well plotted. It sounds like a conventional thriller plot but it’s much, much more intricately plotted and more skilfully plotted than films in that genre. It’s also very, very well acted by a large cast of Indian actors.” – Bruce Beresford (Jury President)
“The Prisoner is a very low budget film by a first time director, not working with stars. He made a very intelligently written and very well directed film and also the message at the end. I mean the futility of having this kind of money and so on, there’s a sense of renunciation at the end which is very wonderful.” – Aparna Sen (Jury Member)
“The Prisoner I felt was a completely unique film in that it presented an aspect of Indian society that I had been totally unaware of in spite of being to India a couple of times and I thought that the filmmaker really captured a very insightful look into some very unusual characters in some very unusual situations and for that reason, we felt very strongly that this film needed to be recognised.” – Richard Rothschild (Jury Member)
“The Prisoner is really realistic. It has written about contemporary Indian people, and it has revealed to us how real, true Indians live. The story itself is extremely delicately written. What touches me is that I have seen, through this movie, how the most ordinary Indian people live, how they work hard and struggle for their survival and dignity. I highly wish that India would make more such movies. I have just now consulted the India director (Aparna Sen – Jury Member) such a question about the proportion of such movies in Indian cinema, and she replied to say that such movies are a real scarcity among Indian movies.” – Zheng Dongtian (Jury Member)
Bruce Beresford, President of the 2008 APSA International Jury, said that: “I was very impressed by the quality and originality of the films – all of them – and I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being around so many extraordinarily talented filmmakers.”
Asia Pacific Screen Awards Chairman Des Power thanked Bruce Beresford and his Jury colleagues, renowned Indian Director and Actress Aparna Sen, US Producer Richard Luke Rothschild (whose production credits include Tender Mercies and The Truman Show),Chinese Director and Professor of the Beijing Film Academy Zheng Dongtian, and Hanna Lee, Producer of the 2007 APSA Best Feature Film, the internationally-acclaimed Miryang (Secret Sunshine), from the Republic of Korea.
Chairman of the Asia Pacific Screen Awards said: “The Asia-Pacific region is the emerging giant of cinema. The quality and depth of story-telling amazed not only our jury this year but is certain to attract more audience at the global level. There is a growing fascination and respect for films from this diverse region. It is a tribute to the filmmakers that they now have a globally recognised award and the broadcast reach of CNN International to promote their work.”
The CNN APSA Viewers Choice Award for Best Asia-Pacific Film of all Time, voted for by thousands of film fans around the world, at www.cnn.com/thescreeningroom, went to HIMALA, Ishmael Bernal’s 1982 work from The Philippines.