Actors Leah Purcell, Essie Davis and Caleb Landry Jones have received nominations along with Australian feature When Pomegranates Howl in the region’s highest accolade in film, the Asia Pacific Screen Awards. 

Winners will be determined by the APSA International Jury, who will be announced in the coming weeks and announced on Thursday 11 November at the 14th APSA Ceremony on Australia’s spectacular Gold Coast, and streamed across the globe. 

In 2021, 38 films from 25 Asia Pacific countries and areas were nominated, further highlighting the outstanding achievement of a nomination in the Awards, which encompass 70 countries and areas and represent half the world’s film output. 

Two Australians are nominated for Best Performance by an Actress. Leah Purcell is nominated for her powerhouse performance in The Drover’s Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson which Purcell also wrote and directed. Essie Davis is nominated for her triumphant role in Gaysorn Thavat’s acclaimed social drama, The Justice of Bunny King (NZ). Both films are screening in the upcoming Brisbane International Film Festival, and Sydney Film Festival, ahead of their cinema release.  

They are up against three remarkable actresses from the region. Alena YIV for her role in Asia, winner of Best Picture at Israel’s Academy Awards (Ophir Awards), Azmeri Haque Badhon for Rehana (Rehana Maryam Noor), the first Bangladeshi film to compete In Competition at Cannes, and from the remote Yakutia region of Russia Valentina Romana-Chyskyyray for Scarecrow (Pugalo). 

Nominated for Best Performance by an Actor, Nitram star Caleb Landry Jones was awarded the Cannes Best Actor for this role, and he vies with Iran’s Amir Jadidi for Asghar Farhadi’s Cannes Grand Prix winner A Hero (Ghahreman), and two actors from Georgia – Levan Tediashvili for who recently won Best Actor at Tribeca for Brighton 4th and Merab Ninidze for his role in Alexsy German Jnr’s Cannes’ Un Certain Regard selected House Arrest (Delo). Completing the Actor category is Japan’s Hidetoshi Nishijima for Cannes-winner Drive My Car, who also stars in another film, nominated for Best Youth Feature Film, Voices in the Wind (Kaze no Denwa).

Iranian-Australian Granaz Moussavi’s stunning When Pomegranates Howl (Afghanistan, Australia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Netherlands) is also nominated for Best Youth Feature Film. Shot on the streets of Kabul in Afghanistan, the film follows a nine-year old boy who dreams of stardom, with the significance of this work is brought into sharp focus following the recent events in that country. 

When Pomegranates Howl is produced by Moussavi with Melbourne-based Afghan-Australian Baheer Wardak,  Iranian Marzieh Vafamehr and South Australian Christine Williams, and will also screen in Sydney Film Festival.

Moussavi is one of three women directors whose films are nominated in this category, along with Yoon Dan-bi for Moving On (Nam-mae-wui Yeo-reum-bam, Republic of Korea) and Saudi filmmaker Shahad Ameen’s Scales (Sayidat Al Bahr, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia). The fifth film in this category is Ferit Karahan’s Turkish drama Brother’s Keeper (Okul Tıraşı).

The APSA Ceremony on November 11 will also launch the 3rd Asia Pacific Screen Forum, an action-packed six-day program of industry-led networking opportunities, designed to facilitate relationships and collaborations between filmmakers across Asia Pacific. Like the ceremony, the forum will take place both in-person and virtually, with many nominees and APSA Academy Members participating from around the globe.

Films from Japan and Islamic Republic of Iran lead the field with seven nominations each. Two films, both winners at Cannes this year, Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Drive My Car and Asghar Farhadi’s A Hero (Ghahreman), achieved the most nominations, with both films up for the same four categories – Best Feature Film, Achievement in Directing, Best Screenplay and Best Performance by an Actor. 

Another Cannes winner, Payal Kapadia’s breakthrough A Night of Knowing Nothing (India) is also nominated for Best Feature Film, as is Russian director Natalya Nazarova’s The Pencil (Prostoy karandash) and Iranian Mohammad Rasoulof’s Golden Bear winner There is No Evil (Sheytan vojud nadarad).

Given the impact of COVID on the region, the eligibility of films in competition this year was extended back to the end of 2019, increasing the field and calibre of competition significantly.

Best Youth Feature Film award features three emerging women directors with their debut or second feature nominated. They are Yoon Dan-bi for Moving On (Nam-mae-wui Yeo-reum-bam, Republic of Korea), Granaz Moussavi’s When Pomegranates Howl (Afghanistan, Australia) and Saudi filmmaker Shahad Ameen’s Scales (Sayidat Al Bahr, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia) who follows in the footsteps of Haifaa al-Mansour, the first Saudi woman filmmaker who was nominated in this category in 2013. 

Competing the nominations for Best Youth Feature Film are Ferit Karahan’s Brother’s Keeper (Okul Tıraşı, Turkey, Romania) andNobuhiro Suwa’s Voices in the Wind (Kaze no Denwa, Japan) which also features Drive My Car Best Actor nominee Hidetoshi Nishijima. 

Best Animated Feature Film offers a diverse selection of themes, cultures and disciplines of animation amongst the five nominees: Bashir El Deekand Ibrahim Mousa’s The Knight and The Princess (Saudi Arabia, Egypt), Beauty Water (Gigigoegoe Seonghyeongsu, Republic of Korea), Ayumu Watanabe’s Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko (Gyoko no Nikuko-chan, Japan), Andrey Khrzhanovsky’s The Nose or The Conspiracy of Mavericks (Nos ili zagovor netakikh, Russian Federation) and Ari Folman’s Where is Anne Frank (Belgium). 

As always, the Best Documentary Feature Film nominations represent some of the most important stories of Asia Pacific, and often made in the most difficult circumstances. The nominees in 2021 are Vitaly Mansky’s Gorbachev. Heaven (Latvia, Czech Republic), Eliane Raheb’s Miguel’s War (Aanaf Hob, Lebanon, Spain, Germany), Hogir Hirori’s Sabaya (Sweden), Mohammed Abugeth and Daniel Carsenty’s The Devil’s Drivers (Lebanon, Qatar, France, Germany) and finally Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh’s Writing With Fire (India). 

Nominations for Achievement in Directing, Best Screenplay, Achievement in Cinematography and Best Performance categories for Actress and Actor follow in the list below. The winners will be determined by the APSA International Jury, who will be announced in the coming weeks.

Winners will also be announced in APSA’s three special categories, the Cultural Diversity Award under the patronage of UNESCO, the Young Cinema Award in partnership with NETPAC and GFS, and the FIAPF Award for Contribution to Asia Pacific Cinema. 

The APSA Ceremony will include the annual announcement of recipients of the four MPA APSA Academy Film Fund grants for 2021. 

The 25 Asia Pacific countries and areas represented in the nominees are Afghanistan, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Georgia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Islamic Republic of Iran, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, New Zealand, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and, for the first time, Vietnam. 

The 14th Asia Pacific Screen Awards and the 3rd Asia Pacific Screen Forum is presented by the Asia Pacific Screen Academy, with the support of the City Of Gold Coast, Screen Queensland, Netflix, Motion Picture Association, Griffith University Griffith Film School.


A Hero (Ghahreman)
Islamic Republic of Iran, France
Directed by Asghar FARHADI
Produced by Asghar FARHADI, Alexandre MALLET-GUY
A Night of Knowing Nothing
India, France
Directed by Payal KAPADIA
Produced by Thomas HAKIM, Julien GRAFF, Ranabir DAS
Drive My Car
Directed by Ryusuke HAMAGUCHI
Produced by Teruhisa YAMAMOTO
The Pencil (Prostoy karandash)
Russian Federation
Directed by Natalya NAZAROVA
There is No Evil (Sheytan vojud nadarad)
Islamic Republic of Iran, Czech Republic, Germany
Directed by Mohammad RASOULOF
Produced by Mohammad RASOULOF, Kaveh FARNAM, Farzad PAK
Brother’s Keeper (Okul Tıraşı)
Turkey, Romania
Directed by Ferit KARAHAN
Produced by Kanat DOĞRAMACI

Moving On (Nam-mae-wui Yeo-reum-bam)
Republic of Korea
Directed by YOON Dan-bi
Produced by YOON Dan-bi, KIM Gi-hyeon
Scales (Sayidat Al Bahr)
Iraq, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia
Directed by Shahad AMEEN
Produced by R Paul MILLER, Stephen STRACHAN, Rula NASSER
Voices in the Wind (Kaze no Denwa)
Directed by Nobuhiro SUWA
Produced by Eiji IZUMI
When Pomegranates Howl
Afghanistan, Australia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Netherlands
Directed by Granaz MOUSSAVI
Produced by Granaz MOUSSAVI, Baheer WARDAK, Marzieh VAFAMEHR, Christine WILLIAMS
Beauty Water (Gigigoegoe Seonghyeongsu)
Republic of Korea
Directed by CHO Kyung-hun
Produced by JEON Byung-jin
Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko (Gyoko no Nikuko-chan)
Directed by Ayumu WATANABE
Produced by Sanma AKASHIYA, Eiko TANAKA, Shu KAMIGASO, Mitsugu YAMADA
The Knight and The Princess
Saudi Arabia, Egypt
Directed by Bashir EL DEEK, Ibrahim MOUSA
Produced by Alabbas BIN ALABBAS
The Nose or The Conspiracy of Mavericks (Nos ili zagovor netakikh)
Russian Federation
Directed by Andrey KHRZHANOVSKY
Produced by Andrey KHRZHANOVSKY
Where is Anne Frank
Directed by Ari FOLMAN

Gorbachev. Heaven
Latvia, Czech Republic
Directed by Vitaly MANSKY
Produced by Natalia MANSKAIA, Filip REMUNDA, Vít KLUSÁK
Miguel’s War (Aanaf Hob)
Lebanon, Spain, Germany
Directed by Eliane RAHEB
Produced by Eliane RAHEB
Directed by Hogir HIRORI
Produced by Antonio RUSSO MERENDA, Hogir HIRORI
The Devil’s Drivers
Lebanon, Qatar, France, Germany
Directed by Mohammed ABUGETH, Daniel CARSENTY
Produced by Daniel CARSENTY, Felix BLUM
Writing With Fire
Directed by Rintu THOMAS, Sushmit GHOSH
Produced by Sushmit GHOSH, Rintu THOMAS
Asghar FARHADI for A Hero (Ghahreman)
Islamic Republic of Iran, France
Dea KULUMBEGASHVILI for Beginning (Dasatskisi)
Georgia, France
Ryusuke HAMAGUCHI for Drive My Car
P S VINOTHRAJ for Pebbles (Koozhangal)
Kamila ANDINI for Yuni
Indonesia, Singapore, France
Asghar FARHADI for A Hero (Ghahreman)
Islamic Republic of Iran
Nasim AHMADPOUR, Shahram MOKRI for Careless Crime (Jenayat-e bi deghat)
Islamic Republic of Iran
Ryusuke HAMAGUCHI, OE Takamasa for Drive My Car
Dana IDISIS for Here We Are (Hine Anachnu)
Israel, Italy
Asif RUSTAMOV, Roelof Jan MINNEBOO, Ilgar NAJAF for Sughra’s Sons
Azerbaijan, France, Germany
FENG Yuchao Robbin for A New Old Play (Jiao ma tang hui)
Hong Kong, France
Phuttiphong AROONPHENG for Anatomy of Time (Wela)
Thailand, Singapore, France, Netherlands
Vignesh KUMULAI, Che PARTHIBAN for Pebbles (Koozhangal)
NGUYỄN Vinh Phúc for Taste (Vị)
Vietnam, Singapore, France, Thailand, Germany
Akiko ASHIZAWA for Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash (Seperti Dendam, Rindu Harus Dibayar Tuntas)
Indonesia, Singapore, Germany

Alena YIV for Asia
Azmeri HAQUE BADHON for Rehana (Rehana Maryam Noor)
Bangladesh, Qatar, Singapore
Valentina ROMANOVA-CHYSKYYRAY for Scarecrow (Pugalo)
Russian Federation
Leah PURCELL for The Drover’s Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson
Essie DAVIS for The Justice of Bunny King
New Zealand
Amir JADIDI for A Hero (Ghahreman)
Islamic Republic of Iran, France
Levan TEDIASHVILI for Brighton 4th
Georgia, Russian Federation, Bulgaria, Monaco, United States of America
Hidetoshi NISHIJIMA for Drive My Car
Merab NINIDZE for House Arrest (Delo)
Russian Federation
Caleb LANDRY JONES for Nitram

Further Awards to be announced