Karl Malakunas during a screening for his documentary 'Delikado'.
Karl Malakunas’ eco documentary Delikado received a special mention, and there were historic wins for Indonesia, Jordan, Armenia, Cambodia and Pakistan, as the 15th Asia Pacific Screen Awards were announced on the Gold Coast this evening
Nominated in the documentary category, Malakunas’ story of environmental crusaders on the Filipino island of Palawan lost out to Shaunak Sen’s All That Breathes but did receive recognition from the APSA Youth, Animation, Documentary International Jury.
Malakunas, who participated in a Q&A for the film at the Asia Pacific Screen Forum, told IF the recognition from APSA was “incredibly important” to the film’s participants.
“It’s a film about these incredibly brave, strong and resilient people fighting the most powerful interests in the Philippines who discredit them, spread disinformation and sometimes kill them,” he said.
“When we get award nominations like this, where the film and their stories are recognised, it gives extra credibility, as well as extra strength and a greater voice.
“It’s also a film to inspire others into action because land defenders are being killed in record numbers all around the world and even here in Australia, people are fighting pretty intense battles to protect lands.”
The other Australian nominee, Jub Clerc’s Sweet As, was unable to take home the award for Best Youth Film, with Darin J Sallam becoming the Jordanian recipient of an APSA for Farha (Jordan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sweden).
History was also made in the Best Film category, where Kamila Andini’s Before, Now and Then (Nana), produced by Ifa Isfansyah and Gita Fara, was both the first Indonesian film and the first film directed by a woman to win the prize.
The award was accepted by Indonesian star Happy Salma, who plays the lead role of Nana in the portrait of her life set against the unrest of 1960’s Indonesia.
Elsewhere, Inna Sahakyan’s Aurora’s Sunrise (Armenia, Germany, Lithuania), the story of a forgotten genocide survivor turned silent Hollywood film star and philanthropist, won Best Animated Film, marking the first APSA win for an Armenian film.
Lee Jeong-eun was announced as the inuagural winner for Shin Su-won’s Hommage (Omaju, Republic of Korea), while French/Korean newcomer Park Ji-min was named Best New Performer for her debut role in Davy Chou’s Return to Seoul (Retour à Séoul) (France, Belgium, Germany).
Chou was also awarded Best Director, making the film the only multiple winner of the evening.
Of the other categories, Indonesian film critic-turned-filmmaker Makbul Mubarak won Best Screenplay for Autobiography (Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, Qatar, France, Poland, Germany); Niklas Lindschau took out Best Cinematography for The Stranger (Al Garib, Palestine, Syrian Arab Republic, Qatar, Germany); and the APSA Jury Grand Prize was given to Aktan Arym Kubat’s This is What I Remember (Esimde, Kyrgyzstan, Japan, Netherlands, France), which was produced by Altynai Koichumanova, Denis Vaslin, Yuji Sadai, Carine Chichkowsky, Fleur Knopperts.
The awards take place amid the Asia Pacific Screen Forum and Screening Program, which will wrap up on Sunday, having begun on Wednesday.
Asia Pacific Screen Academy chair Tracey Vieira said this year’s ceremony was memorable for multiple reasons.
“Multiple countries have won APSAs for the first time, female filmmakers are represented in the winner tally like never before, and emerging filmmakers have won major awards,” she said.
“All of these points speak to the increasing diversity of both the stories being told from across our vast region and the growing strength of many of its film industries to be able to bring them to the screen.”
The full list of winners is below.
Before, Now & Then (Nana)
Directed by Kamila Andini
Produced by Ifa Isfansyah, Gita Fara
BEST YOUTH FILM
Jordan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sweden
Directed by Darin J Sallam
Produced by Deema Azar, Ayah Jardaneh
BEST ANIMATED FILM
Armenia, Germany, Lithuania
Directed by Inna Sahakyan
Produced by Vardan Hovhannisyan, Christian Beetz, Justé Michailinaité, Kestutis Drazdauskas, Eric Esrailian, Inna Sahakyan
BEST DOCUMENTARY FILM
All That Breathes
India, United Kingdom, United States of America
Directed by Shaunak Sen
Produced by Aman Mann, Shaunak Sen, Teddy Leifer
Davy Chou for Return to Seoul (Retour à Séoul)
Cambodia, Qatar, France, Belgium, Germany
Makbul Mubarak for Autobiography Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, Qatar, France, Poland, Germany
Niklas Lindschau for The Stranger (Al Garib)
Palestine, Syrian Arab Republic, Qatar, Germany
Lee Jeong-eun for Hommage (Omaju)
Republic of Korea
BEST NEW PERFORMANCE
Park Ji-min for Return to Seoul (Retour à Séoul)
Nadine Labaki (Lebanon)
MPA APSA ACADEMY FILM FUND
Khadija Al Salami (Yemen/France) for I Wish I Were a Girl
Kirby Atkins (New Zealand) for Levity Jones
Anne Köhncke (Norway) for A Disturbed Earth
Weijie Lai (Singapore) for The Sea Is Calm Tonight