Established in 2010, the MPA APSA Academy Film Fund is made up of four $25,000 script development grants exclusively available to APSA Academy members, supported wholly by the Motion Picture Association (MPA).

More than 87 submissions from across Asia-Pacific were received in the inaugural funding round. Submissions were assessed by an industry panel of three, headed by Ronin Films Managing Director and former APSA International Jury member Andrew Pike.

Andrew was joined by Korean producer Hanna Lee, an APSA-Award winning producer for the 2007 Best Feature Film Secret Sunshine (Miryang) and a former APSA Jury member, and Chinese Australian director Pauline Chan, best known for her feature film Traps and director of the new Australian/Chinese co-production Mei Mei.

Inaugural recipients were announced at the fourth annual Asia Pacific Screen Awards.

Asghar Farhadi (Islamic Republic of Iran)

Asghar Farhadi received a development grant for his project Nader and Simin: A Separation. Asghar Farhadi’s film About Elly (Darbareye Elly) won the 2009 APSA for Best Screenplay and the Jury Grand Prize.

“Asghar Farhadi’s film is a beautiful human study of a very normal everyday life, with people in a region who are being challenged all the time by issues social, geographical and financial. While I am not familiar with Iranian culture, as an outsider I find it fascinating and very touching…. his work is beautiful.” – Pauline Chan, Selection Panellist

Nader and Simin premiered at the 2011 Berlin International Film Festival where it won the Golden Bear for Best Film along with the Silver Bears for Best Actor and Actress awarded to the ensemble cast.

Lee Chang-dong (Republic of Korea)

Lee Chang-dong received a grant for his project Memories of Blue Hill Club (Memories of Chung-gu Hoe).

Lee Chang-dong is the former Minister for Culture and Tourism of South Korea. He is a three time APSA Winner whose 2007 film Secret Sunshine (Miryang) was named Best Feature Film at the inaugural APSAs and also took out the Best Performance by an Actress award that year. At the 2010 APSA Ceremony, Poetry (Shi) won the Achievement in Directing (Lee Chang-dong) and Best Performance by an Actress (Yun Jung-hee) awards.

“This is a superbly written treatment, and I think it will develop into a superbly written feature film. It has a very strong foundation in reality; in this case, historical literature provided inspiration for what I believe will be a very moving powerful film.” – Andrew Pike, Selection Panellist

Peng Tao (People’s Republic of China)

Peng Tao from the People’s Republic of China received a development grant for his project Straw Man (Dao Cao Ren). Peng Tao’s previous film Little Moth (Xue Chan) was nominated for an APSA in 2007 for Best Achievement in Directing.

“I really love that Peng Tao’s work is able to depart from the traditional structure of Chinese filmmaking, which we, in the west are quite familiar with. To me he represents a new wave and a new voice in a really refined, restrained culture. He is able to find a traditional angle, a Chinese tradition, but he is able to bring the tradition into a new light so that it surprises you.” – Pauline Chan, Selection Panellist

Sergey Dvortsevoy (Kazakhstan)

Sergey received development funding for his project Ayka (Aйка). Sergey was a member of APSA’s 2010 International Jury and writer/director of 2008 APSA Best Feature Film winner, Tulpan, which also won the Prix Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival in the same year.

“What I really like about Sergey is that he observes his subjects, but he is observing them with very caring emotions that are not over dramatized. That was one of the things I really loved about Tulpan and I can see that in again in Ayka. He treats his subject matter and his characters with such sincerity and he also brings his documentary background into the making of his feature films.” – Hanna Lee, Selection Panellist