Asia Pacific Screen Awards: Palestine’s 'Omar' Wins Best Film

Omar Cannes Un Certain Regard Still - H 2013
Festival de Cannes/PA

Omar Cannes Un Certain Regard Still - H 2013

China's Zhang Ziyi won best actress for her performance in Wong Kar Wai's "The Grandmaster," Korean star Lee Byung-hun took best actor, and Singapore's Anthony Chen was named best director for "Ilo Ilo."

Palestine’s entry for the best foreign language film Oscar, Omar, took the top prize of best film at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA's), presented in Brisbane, Australia on Thursday.

A story of love and betrayal set in the West Bank, Omar is the first film to be fully funded by the Palestinian film industry. It was written and directed by Hany Abu-Assad, and produced by Waleed Zuaiter, David Gerson and Abu-Assad. It  premiered in Un Certain Regard at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

VIDEO: Live From Cannes: 'Omar' Director Hany Abu-Assad

The major acting awards went to two audience favorites from China and Korea.

Zhang Ziyi was awarded best actress for her role in Wong Kar Wai’s martial arts drama The Grandmaster, which chronicles the life of Chinese martial arts master Ip Man, whose students included Bruce Lee.

Korean superstar Lee Byung-hun won best actor for Masquerade, the fourth-highest grossing Korean film ever, in which he plays two roles.

Indicative of the spread of countries represented at the awards, films from India, China and South Korea took home two awards each. Movies from Bangladesh, Iran, Russia and Singapore also collected awards, with a further two special mentions going to films from Kazakhstan and Iraqi Kurdistan. Six of those winners are their nations' official Oscar entries, including Television (Bangladesh), Back to 1942 (China), Juvenile Offender (South Korea), Ilo, Ilo (Singapore) and The Grandmaster.

The year’s APSA Jury President, Indian screenwriter and director, Shyam Benegal, said “I’m most impressed with the quality of films that have made it to the final competition at APSA, they represent the diverse cultures of the Asia Pacific region.”

India’s The Lunchbox, took two major awards: Ritesh Batra won the best screenplay award and the film was one of two to win a Jury Grand Prize.

VIDEO: Wong Kar Wai on the Making of 'The Grandmaster'

Television, produced by Mostofa Sarwar Farooki, was also awarded a Jury Grand Prize -- the first time an Asia Pacific Screen Award has gone to a film from Bangladesh.

Other winners included Anthony Chen, who was named best director for his debut feature, Ilo, Ilo , while the jury awarded two additional special mentions for achievement in directing to Emir Baigazin for Uroki Garmonii (Harmony Lessons, Kazakhstan, Germany, France) and to Hiner Saleem for My Sweet Pepper Land (Iraqi Kurdistan, France, Germany).

Lu Yue won best cinematography for Back to 1942.  

The UNESCO award for outstanding contribution to the promotion and preservation of cultural diversity through film was awarded to The Painting Pool from Iran.

Winners in three categories were determined by APSA Academy members through Academy voting: best children’s feature, best animated feature and best documentary feature.

Juvenile Offender, produced by Park Joo-young, collected the award for best children’s feature. The story of a young juvenile offender who is reunited with the mother he never knew he had, the film stars newcomer Seo Young-joo and K-pop star Lee Jung-hyun.

The best animated feature was the Russian film Koo! Kin-Dza-Dza, while the best documentary feature went to The Act of Killing (Denmark, Norway, United Kingdom). It was eligible to enter by virtue of its anonymous Indonesian producers.

Despite a slew of nominations from both the host nation, Australia, and Japan, with half a dozen each, all nominees from those two countries left empty handed.

39 films from 23 countries and areas in total received award nominations.

The ceremony was streamed live via the APSA website and was broadcast to 46 countries across Asia, the Pacific and Indian subcontinent via the ABC’s Australia Network and will air in Australia on SBS One on Dec. 22.