34 films up for first Asia Pacific awards

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SYDNEY -- Thirty-four films from 19 countries have been nominated in the inaugural Asia Pacific Screen Awards, the awards' nominations council announced in Singapore. Films with established festival and awards pedigrees from Lebanon, Iran, Turkey and Korea led the nominations with three noms apiece.

The best feature film nominations include:

-- Nadine Labaki's "Caramel" (Lebanon), which premiered as part of Directors' Fortnight at May's Festival de Cannes and which also received a nom for best direction, while its female ensemble cast has been nominated for best performance by an actress;

-- Iranian war film "Night Bus," which also received noms for best screenplay and best actor for Mehrdad Sedighian

-- Korean romantic comedy "Secret Sunshine," which also screened at Cannes and is represented in the best screenplay category, while star Do-Yeon Jeon was nominated for best actress;

-- Turkey's "Takva: A Man's Fear of God," February's Berlin Film Festival Fipresci prizewinner, also nominated for best screenplay and best actor for Erkan Can; and

-- Indonesian musical "Opera Jawa."

Joining the cast of "Caramel" and Korea's Do-Yeon Jeon in the best actress category are Joan Chen for Tony Ayres' "Home Song Stories" (Australia), Hanan Turk in "Cut and Paste" (Egypt) and Baran Kosari in "Mainline" (Iran).

Israel's Sasson Gabai in "The Band's Visit," the Russian Federation's Antropov Evegniy in "Hard-Hearted," Korea's Deok-Hwan Ryu in "Like a Virgin," joined Mehrdad Sedighin and Erkan Can in the best actor category.

The awards are designed to acclaim and promote films that are outstanding for their cinematic excellence and best reflect their cultural origins.

The 34 films have been nominated in nine categories with two additional outstanding achievement awards to be presented at the awards ceremony, which is set to take place on the Gold Coast in Australia on Nov. 13. CNN International will air two programs about the awards and the nominated films on Nov. 10 and 17.

APSA chairman Des Power said the diversity of countries entering films in the awards' inaugural year was "remarkable."

"Clearly filmmakers and the industry value the purpose and benefit of these Awards. The nominees ... represent the extraordinary creativity and energy of filmmakers across the Asia-Pacific region and the range and quality of their films undoubtedly reflects the aims of the Asia Pacific Screen Awards to celebrate both cinematic excellence and cultural diversity," he said.

The jury that will choose the winners has yet to be announced but will be headed by Indian actress Shabana Azmi.
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