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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 62 submissions from across Asia Pacific were received in the 2011 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.

Joining Andrew Pike on the panel for the 2011 MPA APSA Academy Film Fund were Australian/Chinese filmmaker Tony Ayres and Chinese scriptwriter and director Xue Xiaolu.

The recipients were announced at the fifth annual Asia Pacific Screen Awards.

Shawkat Amin Korki (Iraq/Kurdistan)

Shawkat Amin Korki received a development grant for his project Memories on Stone.  Shawkat Amin Korki was inducted into the Academy in 2007 for Crossing the Dust, for which he received an Achievement in Directing nomination in 2007.

“This is a bold and lively project offering an insight into the challenges of making films in Kurdistan, and through that to the challenges of everyday life in an area and in a culture of which the West is essentially unaware.  While the story is revealing and informative, the characters should emerge strongly and engage international audiences emotionally.” – Andrew Pike, Selection Panellist

Memories on Stone (logline):
In post-Saddam Iraq, childhood friends Huseyin and Alan are about to produce the first movie made in free Kurdistan. Little do they know they are embarking on the odyssey of their lives…

Payman Maadi (Islamic Republic of Iran)

Payman Maadi received a grant for his film Those Days. Payman was nominated this year for Best Performance by an Actor for A Separation, which was the first film to be completed with funding from the MPA APSA Academy Film Fund. A Separation won Best Feature Film at the fifth annual Asia Pacific Screen Awards.

“This is a very strong project with a wealth of characters and incident. It also promises a strong element of documentary realism at the heart of its drama. The talent involved is substantial and the in the wake of A Separation, it has considerable potential to reach a wide international audience.” – Andrew Pike, Selection Panellist

Those Days (logline):
A love story during the years of the Tehran rocket attacks.

Maryam Ebrahimi (Islamic Republic of Iran/Sweden)

Maryam Ebrahimi received a grant for the documentary Burqas Behind Bars. Maryam was also inducted into the Academy this year, winning the Best Documentary Feature Film Award for I Was Worth 50 Sheep.

“This documentary project has excellent credentials, and promises to be an important and challenging film. While the subject may be politically sensitive, the project seems achievable and the stories told within the film should communicate strongly to international audiences.” – Andrew Pike, Selection Panellist

Burqas Behind Bars (logline):
35 women. 34 children. 4 cells. Shot entirely inside an Afghan women’s prison, documentary feature Burqas Behind Bars exposes how “moral crimes” continue to be used to control women in post-Taliban Afghanistan. Locked away from society, the women want their stories told. They want a voice.

Pryas Gupta (India)

Pryas received development funding for his project The Cricket Tree. A former member of the APSA International Jury, Pryas was inducted into the Academy in 2008. His film The Prisoner won the Jury Grand Prize that year.

“This is a delightful project that could hold strong audience appeal not only in India but in any country where cricket is played and possibly further afield. The treatment is well crafted and the track record of the filmmaker should ensure a very worthwhile outcome.” – Andrew Pike, Selection Panellist

The Cricket Tree (logline):
A modern day fable set in India, children’s feature The Cricket Tree is about Suman, a talented young cricketer who journeys from being a poor village farmer to a successful cricketer through his tenacity, loving nature and determination and also a strange carved bat made for him by his dying father from the wood of an ancient tree in the village.