APSAs attract Cannes, B.O. winners

'Uncle Boonmee,' 'Aftershock' part of 2010 line-up

SYDNEY -- The Asia Pacific Screen Awards appear to be gaining in stature among the region's filmmakers, with more than 230 films from 40 countries entered into this year's awards.

Entrants include top prize winners from festivals such as Berlin, Toronto, Cannes, Venice, Pusan, Sundance and Rotterdam, awards organizers said Monday.

Cannes Film Festival Palme D’Or winner “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives” by Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Thailand) has entered, as has the recent boxoffice smash and highest-grossing Chinese film ever, “Aftershock,” directed by Feng Xiaogang. Australia’s first 3D animated feature,“Legends of the Guardians: Owls of Ga’Hoole,” Venice Film Festival Silver Lion winner “Women Without Men,” by Iranian director Shirin Neshat and  India’s “3 Idiots,” the highest-grossing Bollywood movie of all time have also entered.

APSA Academy members Lee Chang-dong, Shawkat Amin Korki, Ari Sihasale and Hong Sang-soo, whose earlier films were APSA nominees, and who also have films in contention along with director Tian Zhuangzhuang, a member of APSA’s inaugural Jury in 2007.

First time entries have also been received from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Fiji.

"Year by year, we are receiving submissions from more and more countries and filmmakers. Once again, the strength of the documentary category is notable reflecting Asia-Pacific’s ongoing importance as a non-fiction filmmaking powerhouse," Maxine Williamson, producer of the Awards Competition said.

The APSA Advisory Committee to the Nominations Council began reviewing eligible films in Brisbane this week. Geoff Gardner, founder of distributor Ronin Films has joined the advisory committee alongside film critic and historian Adrienne McKibbins and filmmaker and academic, Faramarz K-Rahber.

Five nominees in each of nine categories will be announced in October, with the awards to be handed out at a ceremony on December 2 on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

Lord David Puttnam has been announced as president of the APSA Jury this year.

In addition to the major award categories an additional prize will be announced ahead of the awards ceremony to an emerging filmmaker from the pool of APSA Nominees. The APSA NETPAC Development Prize winner will receive a bursary of $5000 and will be determined by three members of the Nominations Council who are also NETPAC members. The 2009 NETPAC Jury members are Nan Achnas (Indonesia), Russell Edwards (Australia) and professor Hong-Joon Kim (Republic of Korea).

State agency Screen Queensland recently announced that it was shifting the dates of the Brisbane International Film Festival from July to November 4-14 this year to “more closely align it” with the APSAs. It's hoped that the two events can eventually be held concurrently.
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