Winners in the Asia Pacific Screen Awards are determined by an International Jury of renowned filmmakers. The Jury meets ahead of the Awards Ceremony to watch the nominated films and deliberate to decide the winners across eight award categories.
This year, esteemed Indian screenwriter and director Shyam Benegal has been appointed as the Jury President to lead a group of accomplished Jury members including Korean screenwriter and director Kim Tae-yong, “Queen of Sri Lankan Cinema” actress Malini Fonseka, Turkish actor Tamer Levent, Swiss director Christoph Schaub and Hong Kong producer Albert Lee.
Shyam Benegal, Jury President – India
Shyam Benegal has made 26 feature films, many documentaries and several television series including, notably, a 53-hour TV series on the History of India. He has won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi six times, first in 1975 and as recently as 2000.
His debut feature, Ankur (1974), confirmed Benegal as a member of India’s New Wave Cinema. Nominated for the Golden Bear at the 24th Berlinale, Ankur was India’s Official Entry for the Academy Awards®, received three National Film Awards and introduced actress Shabana Azmi (APSA 2007 International Jury President) to the screen.
Among his many national and international awards are two of the Indian Government’s most prestigious awards. In 1976 he received the Padma Shri, which recognises the distinguished contribution of a citizen of India in various spheres of activity including the arts, and in 1991 he received the even more prestigious Padma Bhushan, awarded in recognition of distinguished service of a high order to the nation, in any field.
In 2004, Benegal received the Indira Gandhi National Integration Award and in 2005, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for Lifetime Achievement. In 2007, he was awarded the honorary title of Doctor of Letters from the Jamia Millia University, New Delhi and also from the University of Calcutta in 2011.
Benegal was a Homi Bhabha fellow (1970-72) during which time he studied Children’s Television with CTW in New York and worked as Associate Producer with WGBH, Boston. He has lectured at many institutions in India and abroad and has participated in seminars on subjects dealing with cinema, television, information technology and aspects of social and cultural change.
Benegal was a Member of the Indian Parliament’s Upper House, Rajya Sabha, from 2006 to 2012, and now runs film production company Sahyadri Films in Mumbai.
He is currently shooting Samvidhaan (Constitution), a television series revolving around the establishment of the Indian constitution in 1950, due to premiere in early 2014.
Hon Dr Malani Fonseka – Sri Lanka
The Honourable Dr Malani Fonseka is widely regarded as the “Queen of Sri Lankan Cinema”, this year celebrating 50 years of acting on television, stage and screen. In 2010, Dr Fonseka was appointed as a Member of the Sri Lankan Parliament.
Starting her career in stage productions, Dr Fonseka made her feature film debut with Tissa Liyansuriya’s Punchi Baba (The Little Baby, 1968). Since then she has acted in more than 150 feature films in addition to many television and stage appearances.
Having worked with Sri Lanka’s finest directors, she has won many accolades both locally and internationally.
In 1985, Dr Fonseka was conferred with the Kala Suri, the national honour for special contributions to the development of the arts, followed in 1996 by the the Wishwa Prasadini Appreciation award for her services rendered to Sri Lanka’s cinema industry, both awarded by the Sri Lankan President.
Dr Fonseka received the Presidential Award for Best Actress three times for her roles in Bambaru Avith (The Wasps Are Here, 1978), Wasanthaye Dawasak (One Day in the Spring, 1979) and Aradhana (Invitation, 1981), as well as more than a dozen Signis (OCIC) Awards and Sarasaviya Film Awards along with many other national awards including an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Visual and Performing Arts, Colombo.
For one of her most recent films, Akasa Kusum (Flowers of the Sky), she was awarded the Silver Peacock for Best Actress at the 39th International Film Festival of India, the Best Actress Award at Italy’s Levante International Film Festival and nominated for Best Performance by an Actress at the 2009 Asia Pacific Screen Awards.
In addition to her acting career, Dr Fonseka has produced and directed three films including Sasara Chetana (1984), Ahinsa (1987) and Sthree (Woman, 1991). She was also a member of the International Jury of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in 2012.
CNN has named Dr Fonseka as one of Asia’s 25 greatest actresses of all time.
Kim Tae-yong – Republic of Korea
His feature film directorial debut was Memento Mori, a horror film set in an all-girls high school, which he co-directed with fellow KAFA graduate Kyu-Dong Min. Together they were nominated for the Grand Prix at the Paris Film Festival and the Grand Jury Prize at the Slamdance Film Festival. Memento Mori was a widely influential film of its genre and is now considered a classic of its time.
His next feature film Family Ties, an examination of family relationships in three separate portraits, won Best Film at Thessaloniki International Film Festival and the Republic of Korea’s Grand Bell Award for Best Film.
Late Autumn, starring internationally acclaimed actress Tang Wei (Lust, Caution) as a prisoner on leave to attend a funeral in Seattle, was a co-production by the Republic of Korea, Hong Kong PRC, People’s Republic of China and the US. The film screened at the Toronto, Berlin and Busan International Film Festivals and became the highest-grossing Korean film released in China. Wei Tang received four Best Actress awards for her role.
Kim’s recent short film You Are More Than Beautiful was commissioned as one of four shorts by different filmmakers commissioned for the micro-movie omnibus Beautiful, produced by the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society (HKIFFS) in its inaugural collaboration with China’s reputed Internet TV company Youku. Of the four films, You Are More Than Beautiful was selected to screen at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
Kim is currently in production with his next feature film.
Tamer Levent – Turkey
Levent starred in 2012 APSA Best Feature Film Tepenin Ardi (Beyond The Hill) gaining him an APSA nomination for Best Performance by an Actor as well as the Best Actor Award from both the 24th Ankara International Film Festival and the 3rd Malatya Film Festival in Turkey.
As a theatre director who studied at the Ankara State Conservatory, several of Levent’s plays have been invited to show at festivals in Russia, Canada, Korea and Iran. He has served as the general director of Turkish State Theatres and is the president of the Theatre, Opera and Ballet Members Foundation (TOBAV) where he is leading a national campaign called “Yes To Art”.
As a prolific and much-sought-after film actor, Levent has recently starred in Hakan Kursan’s action thriller Ayaz, Kürşat Kızbaz’s biopic of the Turkish Sufi and poet Yunus Emre – the Sound of Love, Özcan Deniz’s romantic drama Suve Ates and is currently in production for a role in Turkish auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Kis uykusu (Winter Sleep).
He is currently starring in Georgian filmmaker and APSA Academy member George Ovashvili’s follow-up film to Gagma napiri (The Other Bank), is performing in a weekly television historical series and is working on his most recent theatre production.
Christoph Schaub – Switzerland
Renowned Swiss writer and director Christoph Schaub has directed 18 feature films and documentaries, many of which have been invited to screen at festivals throughout the world. In his native Switzerland he has been nominated for the Swiss Film Prize five times for features Happy New Year, Jeune Homme, Sternenberg, Still Life and Giulias Verschwinden (Julia’s Disappearance).
Julia’s Disappearance, starring Bruno Ganz and Corinna Harfouch and based on the novel by best-selling Swiss writer Martin Suter, won the Audience Award at Switzerland’s prestigious Locarno International Film Festival in 2009. Schaub’s most recent feature film, thriller Nachtlärm (Lullaby Ride), is also adapted from a Martin Suter novel.
Schaub’s fascinating documentaries have a particular focus on architectural and urban themes. His feature documentary in the Asia Pacific region, Bird’s Nest – Herzog & de Meuron in China (2008), follows two Swiss star architects on two very different projects: the national stadium for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and an entire district in the provincial town of Jinhua, China. The documentary follows architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron who, with artist Ai Weiwei as their general adviser and as a so-called “cultural interpreter”, literally build bridges between two cultures, two architectural traditions and two political systems. Schaub’s most recent documentary, Millions Can Walk, is the story of the 2012 month-long walk across India by many of its poorest people; the Jan Satyagraha, meaning March for Righteousness, which began on the anniversary of Gandhi’s birthday, October 2. The documentary is scheduled for its Swiss release in January 2014.
As a member of the European Film Academy (EFA), Schaub’s appointment to the APSA International Jury highlights the established coalition between the APSA Academy and the EFA.
Albert Lee – Hong Kong, People’s Republic of China
Albert Lee has been one of the most active and prolific film producers in Hong Kong and China for the past decade. As CEO of Emperor Motion Pictures, he has produced more than 20 feature films across a range of genres, and as such, helped elevate the company to become one of the most prominent film sales and production companies in the region.
Lee became a member of the APSA Academy in 2011, for the action comedy Rang zidan fei (Let the Bullets Fly, People’s Republic of China (Mainland China/Hong Kong)), starring Chow Yun-Fat, which received APSA nominations for Best Feature Film and Achievement in Directing.
Both a critical and box office success, Let the Bullets Fly became China’s highest-grossing film of all time during its release and received many accolades including over 60 wins and nominations at the Asian Film Awards, Taiwan Golden Horse Awards, Hong Kong Film Awards and other film festivals and awards across Asia Pacific.
Let the Bullets Fly was Lee’s second successful collaboration with director Jiang Wen, the first being The Sun Also Rises, starring Joan Chen and Jiang Wen, which competed for the Golden Lion at the 2007 Venice Film Festival. Visually poetic, The Sun Also Rises earned a 2007 APSA nomination for Achievement in Cinematography for Mark Ping Bin Lee.
A long-time industry stalwart, Lee is a member of the China Film Association, has served as a board member of the Los Angeles-based Independent Film and Television Alliance (IFTA) and is an active member of the Hong Kong film industry. He has at various times served as a council member of the Hong Kong Film Development Council and as an adviser to the Hong Kong International Film Festival, the Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) and other industry bodies.