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Manoj Bajpayee makes historic win at 13th Asia Pacific Screen Awards

Bhonsle Manoj Bajpayee

Brisbane, Australia: Indian star Manoj Bajpayee has won the Asia Pacific Screen Award (APSA) for Best Performance by an Actor for his role in Bhonsle. The win, announced at the prestigious award ceremony in Brisbane, Australia, makes APSA history, with Bajpayee being the first actor to win the category twice, having won for Aligarh in 2016.

In another record for India, this win marks a staggering four years in a row that an Indian performer has won in this category. In 2018 the award was won by Nawazuddin Siddiqui for his role in Manto, and in 2017 the award went to Rajkummar Rao for his role in Newton.

Also from India, the APSA Young Cinema Award has been won by emerging Indian filmmaker Ridham Janve whose feature The Gold-Laden Sheep and The Sacred Mountain (Sona Dhwandi Bhed Te Suchha Pahad) was also nominated for Best Feature Film and Achievement in Cinematography. Directed and produced Janve and producer Akshay Singh, the film tells the story of a remote mountainous culture under threat from modernity.

The region’s highest accolade in film, the uniquely Australian initiative ignites and celebrates the cinematic excellence of the 70 countries and areas of the region at a glittering red carpet ceremony in Brisbane in November.

Stories encompassing thirteen countries and areas were awarded at the 13th annual event, with the majority of the winners also being their country’s Official Submission for the Academy Awards® in the Best International Feature Film Category.

37 films from 22 countries and areas of Asia Pacific achieved nominations for the prestigious awards, drawn from the 289 films in APSA competition.

Bong Joon-ho’s international hit Parasite won Best Feature Film. 

The win for Parasite comes as the concurrent Asia Pacific Screen Forum focuses on 100 years of Korean cinema, and marks the first win for Korea in the Best Feature Film category since Lee Chang-dong’s Secret Sunshine took out the inaugural prize in 2007.

The award, a unique handcrafted glass vessel by Brisbane artist Joanna Bone, was accepted on the night by producer Jang Young-hwan.

Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Adrian Schrinner said “Major events such as the Asia Pacific Screen Awards contribute $150 million into Brisbane’s economy and create thousands of local jobs. I would like to congratulate this year’s winner for Best Picture, Bong Joon-ho, and all the other talented filmmakers who were nominated. The calibre of entries this year has been outstanding, and I’m proud to see highly-acclaimed Australian filmmakers compete alongside our international guests.”

The incredibly powerful story Beanpole (DyldaRussian Federation) is the only film to take home two awards. Ksenia Sereda is the first woman to win the APSA for Achievement in Cinematography, and Kantemir Balagov and Alexander Terekhov won the APSA for Best Screenplay.

The Achievement in Directing APSA has gone to Adilkhan Yerzhanov for his Kazakh noir feature A Dark, Dark Man. Yerzhanov, who earlier in the week was the focus of the Director’s Chair session at the inaugural Asia Pacific Screen Forum, accepted the award on the night. It is his second award following the APSA NETPAC Development Prize win in 2013 (now the Young Cinema Award) for Constructors.

From the Philippines, Max Eigenmann has won the Best Performance by an Actress award for her role as a woman fighting to free her life of domestic violence in Verdict.

The International Jury have in 2019 awarded a special Jury Grand Prize to Palestinian filmmaker Elia Suleiman, who wrote, directed, produced and starred in APSA-nominated film It Must Be Heaven Suleiman was also awarded the APSA Jury Grand Prize in 2009 for The Time That Remains.

The six feature film categories and Jury Grand Prize were determined by the APSA International Jury composed of Singaporean filmmaker Eric Khoo, Australian film and television producer Greer Simpkin (APSA Best Feature Film winner Sweet Country, 2017), Cannes and Venice Film Festival selector Paolo Bertolin, Korean screenwriter, theatre actor and Russian literature specialist Oh Jung-mi (APSA Jury Grand Prize winner Burning, 2018) and Deputy Chair of the European Film Academy, UK film producer, journalist and activist Mike Downey (APSA Cultural Diversity Award winner Dede). 

 Determining winners in 3 categories, the APSA Youth, Animation and Documentary International Jury was comprised of Indonesian auteur Garin Nugroho (chair), award-winning Syrian film director and producer Diana El Jeiroudi and CEO of Animal Logic Zareh Nalbandian.

Australia’s Rodd Rathjen has won the Best Youth Feature Film for Buoyancy, produced by Samantha Jennings, Kristina Ceyton and Rita Walsh. Set and shot in Cambodia, Buoyancy is the debut feature film from Rathjen who accepted the award on the night.

Weathering With You (Tenki no Ko, Japan) has been named Best Animated Feature Film. The film is directed by Makoto Shinkai, who also took home the inaugural APSA in this category for in 2007 for 5 Centimetres Per Second.

Best Documentary Feature Film has been won by the Israeli production Advocate, from directors Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaïche. The compelling work is the story of Jewish Israeli human rights lawyer Lea Tsemel who has defended Palestinians in the Israeli courts for 50 years.

The prestigious Cultural Diversity Award under the patronage of UNESCO was awarded to Rona, Azim’s Mother (Islamic Republic of Iran, Afghanistan) by brothers Jamshid and Navid Mahmoudi.

This award, determined by the dedicated APSA Cultural Diversity International Jury, represents APSA’s founding partnership with UNESCO, and the shared goals of the two organisations in the protection and preservation of cultural identity.

Jury Chair is Palestinian filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad (APSA Cultural Diversity Award winner The Idol), with Lebanese documentary-maker and actress Zeina Daccache, and Dương Bích Hnh, head of the Culture Unit at the UNESCO Bangkok Office.

The winner of the FIAPF (International Federation of Film Producers Associations) Award for Outstanding Achievement in Film goes to Katriel Schory, one of the most respected figures of Israeli cinema.

Manoj Bajpayee with Jeff Thompson
Winner Best Actor for Bhonsle Manoj Bajpayee with Jeff Thompson at APSA 2019

An industry figure since the 1970s, Schory produced more than 150 titles through is production company BELFILMS LTD. However it was for his more than twenty year role as Executive Director of Israel’s main film funding body, where he produced and promoted 300 films, that he is credited with rescuing the Israeli film industry, helping to revitalise Israel’s reputation through an emphasis on diversity and international co-production treaties that opened the country’s cinema up to the world.

APSA winning films Parasite (Republic of Korea), Buoyancy (Australia), Verdict (Philippines), Beanpole (Russian Federation), Weathering with You (Japan) and It Must be Heaven (Palestine) are all their respective countries’ Official Submission for the 92nd Academy Awards® International Feature Film Category, with Rona, Azim’s Mother Afghanistan’s submission for the 91st Academy Awards®.

Also announced during the APSA Ceremony were the four recipients of the 10th MPA APSA Academy Film Fund.

The Fund, celebrating its 10th anniversary, was created to support the development of new feature film projects by APSA Academy members and their colleagues from the culturally diverse Asia Pacific region. The fund awards four development grants of US$25,000 annually, and is wholly supported by the MPA. In 2019, the four recipients are:

– Delphine Garde-Mroueh & Nadia Eliewat (UAE/France) for THE STATION

– Rachel Leah Jones (Israel/United States of America) for REALITY BITES

– Catherine Fitzgerald (New Zealand) for SWEET LIPS

– Dechen Roder (Bhutan) for I, THE SONG

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