During the Ceremony, the Motion Picture Association (MPA) announced the four filmmakers who are the recipients of the 7th round of the incredibly successful MPA APSA Academy Film Fund. The Fund was created to support, at script stage, new feature film projects originated by APSA Academy members and their colleagues across Asia Pacific. The fund awards four development grants of US$25,000 annually, and is wholly supported by the MPA. To date, 28 projects have now been funded, with many going into production and garnering success at film festivals around the world.

Mike Ellis, President and Managing Director Asia Pacific MPA, said, “We are thrilled to announce the grants going to APSA Academy members who have revealed such extraordinary talent in these new projects. My thanks go to the dedicated panel of industry experts chaired once again by Andrew Pike, joined this year by filmmakers Hanna Lee and Glenys Rowe.”

Haifaa Al Mansour

Al Mansour is the first female filmmaker in Saudi Arabia and is regarded as one of the most significant cinematic figures in the Kingdom. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in literature from the American University in Cairo and completed a Master’s in Directing and Film Studies from the University of Sydney. The success of her three short films, as well as the international acclaim of award winning 2005 documentary WOMEN WITHOUT SHADOWS, influenced a new wave of Saudi filmmakers.

Al Mansour’s acclaimed 2012 film WADJDA has received numerous awards and accolades at festivals around the world and was most recently nominated for ‘Best First Feature’ at the Independent Spirit Awards in addition to a BAFTA nomination for best foreign language film.

Al Mansour just completed production on A STORM IN THE STARS, starring Elle Fanning and Douglas Booth, about the story of the love affair between poet Percy Shelley and 18-year-old Mary Wollstonecraft, which resulted in Mary Shelley writing Frankenstein. She was recently awarded the 2016 Kant World Citizen Prize in Freiburg Germany, as well as the German Prize for Children’s Literature for her young adult novel “Das Madchen Wadjda.”

Within the Kingdom, her work encourages discussion on topics generally considered taboo, including tolerance, the dangers of orthodoxy and the need for Saudis to take a critical look at the traditional and restrictive culture. Through both her films and her work in television and print media, Al Mansour is famous for penetrating the wall of silence surrounding the sequestered lives of Saudi women and providing a platform for their unheard voices.


Emir Baigazin

Born in 1984 in Alga Province in Kazakhstan, Emir Baigazin studied at the Kazakh National Academy of Arts in Almaty, majoring in film direction and cinema. In September 2007, he studied in the Asian Film Academy (AFA) at the Busan International Film Festival led by Thai director Pen-Ek Ratana-ruang and Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf. In February 2008, he participated in the Berlinale Talent Campus at the 58th Berlin International Film Festival. Emir is a member of the Asian Pacific Screen Academy (APSA).

His debut feature HARMONY LESSONS (written, directed and edited by Baigazin) celebrated its premiere in the Berlinale Competition 2013, where it won a Silver Bear for an Outstanding Artistic Contribution and the Morgenpost Readers’ Award. Among over 20 other recognitions worldwide, Emir Baigazin was awarded at the Tribeca Film Festival, the Sao Paolo Film Festival and the Seattle Film Festival as well as nominated for best Directing Achievement at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards in Brisbane, Australia. Emir Baigazin was a member of the Juri “Pardi di domani” at the Locarno Film Festival 2013 as well as a part of the International Competition Jury at the Sao Paolo Film Festival (Brazil) 2014. In June 2015, he was a member of the Jury of the Art Film Fest in Trencin, Slovakia.

Emir’s next full-length feature, THE WOUNDED ANGEL (written, directed and edited by Baigazin) was supported by the Berlinale Residency 2013 and has won the International Arte Prize during the Berlinale Co-Production Market 2014. In August 2014 the project was awarded with the Work-in-Progress Prize at the Sarajevo Film Festival. Wounded Angel premiered in the Panorama Special official program at the Berlin international film festival in February 2016. The Wounded Angel received the Special Jury Prize at the Jeonju festival in May 2016 and the Blue Angel for Best Director at the Kosice Art Film Fest in June 2016.


Park Joo Young

Born in Seoul, Park Joo Young, started working in the film industry in 1999. At CINE2000, Cinema Service, and Chungeoram, Park worked in film investment, production, and marketing.

In 2005, she produced AGGRESSIVE, the second movie by director Jeong Jae-eun and in director Kang Yi-Kwan’s Juvenile Offender in 2012. She is a cofounder of South Park Film and currently working on the preproduction of Morning Star. The company’s first film JUVENILE OFFENDER (2012) won Special Jury Prize and Best Actor Award at the 25th Tokyo International Film Festival, the 14th Lino Brocka Grand Prize and Best Actor Award at Cinemanila International Film Festival, 7th Asia Pacific Screen Awards for Best Children’s Feature Film. The film was also selected as the South Korean entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards.
The company is currently in preproduction of MORNING STAR. South Park Film’s goal is producing artistic films with commercial success.


Rolf de Heer

Australian director Rolf de Heer also writes and produces the films he directs.
Works include Ten Canoes (Jury Prize, Un Certain Regard, Cannes Film Festival and Australia’s Best Foreign Language Academy Award nomination), Dance Me To My Song and The Quiet Room (both in Official Competition, Cannes Film Festival), Alexandra’s Project (Competition, Berlin Film Festival), The Tracker (Competition, Venice Film Festival), The Old Man Who Read Love Stories and Bad Boy Bubby (Special Jury Prize and four other prizes, Venice Film Festival).
His most recent film Charlie’s Country, the third of his collaborations with renowned Aboriginal actor David Gulpilil, won Best Actor in Un Certain Regard at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and was also Australia’s nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards.