Magazine article Screen International

Omar Wins Best Film at APSAs

Magazine article Screen International

Omar Wins Best Film at APSAs

Article excerpt

Omar, set in the occupied West Bank, has won best film at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSAs).Scroll down for full list of winners

David Gerson, who produced the film alongside Waleed F Zuaiter and writer/director Hany Abu-Assad, accepted the award at the ceremony at Brisbane's City Hall in Australia.

APSA organisers said Omar is the first feature to be fully funded by the film industry in Palestine.

The jury also decided to award two Jury Grand Prizes to the film Television from Bangladesh and to Ritesh Batra for his direction of The Lunchbox. Batra also won the top award for his screenplay for this film, set in Mumbai.

It was Anthony Chen who won the directing category with his debut film Ilo Ilo from Singapore, with special mentions given to Emir Baigazin for Harmony Lessons and Hiner Saleem for My Sweet Pepper Land.

Cultural worth is one of the judging criteria at the APSAs - which cover 70 countries - and the UNESCO Award best represents this. It was awarded to Iran's The Painting Pool.

The two acting awards went to China's Zhang Ziyi for her role in martial arts biopic The Grandmaster and to Korea's Lee Byung-hun for his two roles in Masquerade, the fourth-highest grossing Korean film.

"Omar is a film that has already been acknowledged by the artistic directors of festivals across New Zealand and Australia and now it's won best film," said Paul Wiegard, joint managing director of Australian distributor Madman, who was at the ceremony.

He feels a certain amount of ownership as Madman acquired Omar after seeing it at Cannes, where it won a special jury prize after screening in Un Certain Regard.

"It takes that level of acceptance for these films to have a chance commercially," he added, referring to both Omar and Ilo Ilo, another of the winning films for which he acquired local rights after Cannes.

Eighteen of the films nominated had Australian distribution before the APSAs with Madman having more than half that number. Documentary The Act of Killing and The Lunchbox, which Madman decided to hold back from festivals because of its broad appeal, were its other two winners this evening.

Wiegard praised the APSAs for their timeliness: "Omar, Ilo Ilo and The Lunchbox have all premiered only in the last six months. The awards will help us place the films on airlines, on national television and, of course, get theatrical audiences. …

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