Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk today announced that three Australian films, Mystery Road, anthology film The Turning, and Tracks, have received nominations across three major categories for the 7th annual Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA), the region’s highest accolade in film.
The Turning has been nominated in the leading category Best Feature Film, Mystery Road actor Aaron Pedersen is nominated for Best Performance by an Actor for his first feature film lead and internationally acclaimed cinematographer Mandy Walker ASC ACS is nominated for Achievement in Cinematography for Tracks, the first Australian nomination in this category in APSAs history.
The nominations include a record number of films from more countries and areas than ever before, with 39 films from 21 Asia Pacific countries and areas nominated for the awards, many of which have Australian distribution confirmed.
The Awards, supported by Brisbane City Council and managed by economic development board Brisbane Marketing in a unique collaboration with Paris-based UNESCO and FIAPF-International Federation of Film Producers Associations, recognise and promote cinematic excellence and cultural diversity of the world’s fastest growing film region: comprising 70 countries and areas, 4.5 billion people, and responsible for half of the world’s film output.
The Turning, an adaptation of the novel by iconic West Australian author Tim Winton produced by Robert Connolly and Maggie Miles, will compete alongside Oscar® winner Asghar Farhadi’s The Past, Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Cannes Jury Prize winner Like Father, Like Son, Cannes Un Certain Regard Grand Jury Prize winner Omar (Palestine), Bangladesh’s submission for the 86th Academy Awards® Television, and Sri Lankan auteur Prasanna Vithanage’s With You, Without You.
Producer Robert Connolly said of the nomination: “‘On behalf of our seventeen directors, the many producers and creative teams involved, I have to say how rewarding it has been to see The Turning embraced by Australians in its release. I think I speak for our entire team when I say that it is truly humbling to now also be nominated for the leading film award in the entire Asia Pacific region.’
Tracks, directed by John Curran, starring Mia Wasikowska and produced by Oscar® winning producers Emile Sherman and Iain Canning, is the inspirational true story of Robyn Davidson’s 2700km solo trek through the remote Australian desert to the Indian Ocean, aided only by her loyal dog Diggity, four unpredictable camels and, at intervals, charismatic National Geographic photographer Rick Smolan.
Tracks cinematographer Mandy Walker – already the winner of a Satellite Award, the Hollywood Film Award for Cinematographer of the Year (Australia), an ACS Award of Distinction (Lantana) and nominated for an Independent Spirit Award (Shattered Glass) – said of the nomination: “To be able to shoot Tracks in the varied and beautiful landscape of the Australian desert was truly a fantastic experience. We wanted to do justice to Robyn’s story and the experience of her journey. I was also grateful to be working with such a dedicated cast and crew. It is such an honour to be recognised with this nomination.”
Also competing for the Achievement in Cinematography award are cinematographers Ehab Assal (Omar, Palestine), Murat Aliyev (The Old Man, Kazakhstan), Lu Yue (Back to 1942, People’s Republic of China) and Rajeev Ravi (Monsoon Shootout, India, UK, Netherlands).
In Mystery Road Aaron Pedersen plays an Indigenous detective who returns to his outback home to solve a brutal crime, with a performance The Hollywood Reporter called “superb”.
In the Best Performance by an Actor category, Aaron Pedersen is competing against Korean superstar Lee Byung-hun for Masquerade (Republic of Korea), actor veteran Tatsuya Nakadai – who has appeared in more than 100 films over the last 59 years – for Japan’s Tragedy (Japan), and two other actors nominated for their first feature film leads, Yerbolat Toguzakov (The Old Man, Kazakhstan) and Adam Bakri for Omar (Palestine).
Best known for his recent roles in The Circuit, City Homicide and the Jack Irish telemovies, Aaron Pedersen said of his nomination: “The APSA nomination belongs to the film and the filmmaking family who helped dream this story to life. Internationally it acknowledges the spirit of Indigenous storytelling which is at the very heart of Mystery Road.”
Australian Producers Anna McLeish and Sarah Shaw of Warp Films, who produced Snowtown, are nominated for their film Shopping (New Zealand), in the category of Best Children’s Feature Film.
Australian actor Peter O’Brien stars in the lead role of Kasper Almayer for Malaysian feature Almayer’s Folly (Hanyut), nominated for Best Screenplay for the film’s writer/director U-Wei Bin Hajisaari.
The 2013 Asia Pacific Screen Awards ceremony will be held in Brisbane’s historic City Hall on Thursday 12 December at a glittering event, with nominees and industry luminaries in attendance.
Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said of the nominations: “It is my absolute pleasure to see the 2013 nominations encompass more Asia Pacific countries and areas than ever before, making this year the most international event in APSAs proud history. We look forward to once again hosting this internationally renowned event in Brisbane.’
APSA Chairman Michael Hawkins said: “To be inviting such a prestigious and talented group of filmmakers to Brisbane for APSA in its seventh year is yet another fine achievement for the awards. To see among the nominees first time feature filmmakers who are competing with some of the most established and renowned filmmakers in the region, and indeed the world, means the International Jury has a hard task ahead of them.”
Now in his seventh year as Chair of the International Nominations Council, Professor Hong-Joon Kim said of the 2013 nominations: “I am extremely impressed by the overall quality and scope of the films from the Asia Pacific region that were in the running for this year’s awards. I believe this year will prove to be the highest level of competition for APSA since its inauguration in 2007.’
Nominees automatically become members of the APSA Academy, led by Academy President Jack Thompson AM PhD. The APSA Academy is a growing body of the region’s most influential names in film including past APSA Nominees, International Jury and Nominations Council members.
Winners in the feature film categories will be determined by the 2013 APSA International Jury, headed by esteemed Indian screenwriter and director Shyam Benegal, who will lead a group of accomplished Jury members including Korean screenwriter and director Kim Tae-yong, “Queen of Sri Lankan Cinema” actress of stage and screen Hon Dr Malani Fonseka, Turkish actor Tamer Levent, Swiss director Christoph Schaub and Hong Kong producer Albert Lee.
The International Jury can also, at its discretion, present a further prize; the Jury Grand Prize, for which nominated narrative feature films are eligible.
Two additional major awards for outstanding achievement will be presented at the ceremony; The UNESCO Award for outstanding contribution to the promotion and preservation of cultural diversity through film and the FIAPF Award for Outstanding Achievement in Film which celebrates a film practitioner from the region whose career and actions contribute strongly to the development of the film industry.
The APSA NETPAC Development Prize of US$10,000 will also be awarded to a first or second time feature filmmaker. This emerging talent prize is supported by APSA and the Griffith Film School, Griffith University.
The Turning is currently in release through Madman films with an innovative special event release strategy and has recently surpassed $1million at the Australian Box Office. Mystery Road is currently in independent release through Dark Matter, and Tracks will be released on March 6, 2013 through Transmission Films. Shopping will be released via Madman.
In 2013, an unprecedented number of nominated international films already have Australian distributors including Wong Kar Wai’s The Grandmaster (Roadshow Films), Like Father, Like Son (Rialto Entertainment), My Sweet Pepperland (Sharmill Films), and films already released in Australia – Back To 1942 (China Lion Entertainment) and Saudi Arabian feature Wadjda, which was released by Hopscotch Films earlier this year.
Madman Entertainment films have received nominations in every category and are confirmed to release Singapore’s Ilo, Ilo, Asghar Farhadi’s The Past, Palestine’s Omar, New Zealand box office hit White Lies, India’s The Lunchbox produced by APSA 2012 Jury Grand Prize winner Anurag Kashyap, Hayao Miyazaki’s final film The Wind Rises and documentaries The Gatekeepers and The Act Of Killing, both currently in release.