'Tulpan' takes top Asia-Pacific Screen Award

Films from China, India share grand jury prize

SYDNEY -- Kazakh writer-director Sergey Dvortsevoy's first movie, "Tulpan," won best feature film Tuesday at the second annual Asia-Pacific Screen Awards on Australia's Gold Coast.

The win for "Tulpan," a Kazakh co-production with the Russian Federation, Switzerland, Poland and Germany, echoed the success it saw in May at Cannes, where it won the Un Certain Regard prize.

"Tulpan" headlined an APSA lineup of 32 finalists from 17 countries that jury president Bruce Beresford called "gripping and entertaining."

In the battle for the grand jury prize, judges couldn't settle on a lone film. Sharing the award were Cai Shangjun's "Hongse Kangbaiyan" (The Red Awn) from China and Pryas Gupta's "The Prisoner," from India.

Beresford said that he importance of the awards lies in getting wider distribution for films from the region, particularly among English-speaking audiences.

"We have to train our English-speaking audiences to read subtitles. By not doing i,t they are denying themselves access to wonderful stories from such rich cultures," he said.

Taking the best animated feature prize was "Waltz With Bashir," from Israel/France/Germany. "63 Years On," from Korea, was named best documentary feature, while Australia's "The Black Balloon" won best children's feature.

Turk Nuri Bilge Ceylan earned the best director nod for "Three Monkeys." Talent awards went to Iranian Reza Naji for best actor in "The Song of Sparrows" and Israel's Hiam Abbass for her performance in "Lemon Tree."

"Lemon Tree" writers Suha Arraf and Eran Riklis won best screenplay, and best cinematography went to Korean Lee Mogae for "The Good, The Bad, The Weird."

Indian producer Yash Chopra, founder of Yash Raj Films won the FIAPF Award for outstanding achievement. The UNESCO Award for outstanding contribution to the promotion and preservation of cultural diversity through film was awarded to the Iranian documentary "Tinar," produced and directed by Mahdi Moniri. The jury said that the film was "a rich evocation of rural life in the mountainous regions of Iran."

APSA chairman Des Power said that the Queensland government's underwriting of the awards will ensure their stability for the near future, while the number of entries and attendance at the awards by 34 of the nominees meant that the awards were growing in status for filmmakers.

"The Asia-Pacific region is the emerging giant of cinema. There is a growing fascination and respect for films from this diverse region," Power said.