Turkey's Oscar Hopeful 'Cold of Kalandar' Sweeps Asia Pacific Screen Awards

COLD OF KALANDAR Still 1 - H 2016
Courtesy of Karafilm Productions

The sophomore drama from Mustafa Kara won the director the inaugural APSA Young Cinema Award as well as best feature honors.

Cold of Kalandar, Turkey’s foreign-language Oscar entry, was the big winner at the tenth edition of the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, held Thursday in Brisbane, Australia.

The drama, which tells the tale of a family struggling to survive in a mountain village high above the Black Sea, won the APSA for best feature film, while director Mustafa Kara was awarded the inaugural APSA Young Cinema Award for his second feature. Marking the tenth year of the APSAs, the Young Cinema Award was created to honor emerging talent from the region. Debut or sophomore filmmakers are eligible for the prize.

Cavahir Dahin and Kurset Uresin shared best cinematographer honors for Cold of Kalandar, which earlier this year picked up the two main prizes for best film and best director at the Tokyo Film Festival, where it had its world premiere.

Best director honors went to Chinese master Feng Xoiaogang for the dark satire I Am Not Madame Bovary, his 16th feature as director.

Japanese trio Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Tadashi Nohara, Tomoyuki Takahashi took home the best screenplay prize for Happy Hour.

Jury chair Lord David Putnam said of the 24 films that competed at this year's awards: “There were two significant things I came away with: No. 1 was how often the issue of family occurred — the importance of family and the role of family is an underlying theme that popped up time and time again. The other that I found really encouraging was the quite extraordinary quality of the male performances. I have never seen that number of absolutely outstanding male performances — ever. Anywhere.”

Added jury member and Australian producer Jan Chapman: “I found a fascination with the variety of films and felt a gratitude that we can see such a range of styles of films from such a range of countries. It is really quite astounding and such an insight into other worlds.”

Aligarh's Manoj Bajpayee won best actor honors for his portrayal of award-winning university professor Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras, who, in 2010, was fired from his position for his sexual orientation, while Hasmine Killip took home the best actress award for her role as a 16-year-old homeless mother living on the streets of chaotic Manila in Ordinary People.

With the strength of performances in the acting categories, the jury awarded several additional prizes.

A jury grand prize went to iconic Korean actress Youn Yuh-Jung, who was honored for her work in The Bacchus Lady, the latest role in a stellar 50-year career. And a jury grand prize special mention was given to 8-year-old Indian actor Sunny Pawar for his role as the young Saroo Brierley, lost in Calcutta, in the highly fancied  Australian film Lion.

Sitting alongside Puttnam on the APSA jury this year were Kim Dong-Ho, current chairman of the Busan International Film Festival; Hong Kong producer Nansun Shi; Palme d’Or and Academy Award-winning producer Chapman; and Indian master filmmaker Shyam Benegal.

The panel also awarded a jury grand prize to cinematographer Mark Lee Ping-Bing for his ‘breathtaking” work on Yang Chao’s Crosscurrent, and presented director Hussein Hassan with the APSA Cultural Diversity Award for The Dark Wind, an Iraq-Qatar-Germany co-production which exposes the reality of the Yazidi ethnic minority as they try to live under the shadow of ISIS.

A separate jury this year also handed out awards for youth, animation and documentary features. The winners included: The World of Us (Republic of Korea), produced by Lee Chang-dong, which was named best youth feature; Seoul Station (Republic of Korea) by Lee Dong-ha, Suh Young-joo and Yeon Sang-ho, which was tapped as best animated feature; and Iran’s Starless Dreams, which earned best documentary feature honors.