Director Paul Williams and producer Shannon Swan’s portrait of the late blind Indigenous musician Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, Gurrumul, won Best Documentary Feature Film at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA) in Brisbane last night.
It was the first time an Australian film has won in the category, with Gurrumul beating out Amal (Egypt, Lebanon, Qatar, France, Germany, Norway, Denmark), Of Fathers and Sons (Syrian Arab Republic, Lebanon, Qatar, Germany), Of Love & Law (Japan, UK, France) and Up Down & Sideways (kho ki pa lü, India)
Accepting the award together with Williams, Swan described the moment as bittersweet knowing that Gurrumul wasn’t there to share in it.
“To G, thank you so much for inviting us into your life and trusting us with your story,” he said.
Gurrumul also won Feature Documentary of the Year at last week’s Screen Producers Australia Awards, and is also nominated for five awards at next week’s AACTAs, including for Best Feature Documentary alongside Mountain, Ghosthunter, Jill Bilcock: Dancing the Invisible and Working Class Boy.
The film played MIFF, Berlinale and Hotdocs and at the box office it was a word-of-mouth hit, with revenues just under $1 million.
Speaking to IF after the win, Swan said he was overwhelmed by the to reaction the film, as he regards both he and Williams as simply vessels for Gurrumul’s story, noting the musician – who approved the film before he died – drove a lot of the content and filming.
Williams said: “I feel very happy that the film that we made has reached a wide audience and that the themes that are involved in the film have a deep resonance with people.”
Australian-UK co-production Mary Magdalene, directed by Garth Davis (Lion), also won the inaugural Best Original Score Award for the work of composers Hildur Guðnadóttir and the late Jóhann Jóhannsson. Also nominated were Harry Gregson-Williams for Breath, Ryan Cayabyab for The Portrait (Ang Larawan, Philippines), Omar Fadel for Yomeddine (Egypt) and Eléni Karaïndrou for Bomb, A Love Story (Bomb, Yek Asheghaneh, Islamic Republic of Iran).
The winner was selected by Music In Film international jury chair and composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, together with Shena Khanwalker and Nigel Westlake.
“Mary Magdalene’s soundtrack is a meticulous work of art by the composers,” said Sakamoto. “The quality of craftsmanship and the depth of emotions are overwhelming.”
The winner of the APSA for Best Feature Film was Kore-eda Hirokazu’s Shoplifters (Manbiki Kazoku), with the award accepted by producer Taguchi Hijiri. The film, which also won this year’s Cannes Palme d’Or, is Japan’s official submission for the Oscars. The Jury Grand Prize was awarded to Lee Joon-dong and Lee Chang-dong for Burning (Republic of Korea).
Winners in the feature fiction categories were determined by the APSA International Jury, comprised of Alexander Rodnyansky (Russian Federation), Nia Dinata (Indonesia), Deepak Rauniyar (Nepal), Vladimer Katcharava (Georgia) and Antonia Zegers (Chile).
APSA international jury president Rodnyansky said: “We have had the great fortune to be presented with a unique line up of films that represent the different countries, cultures and talents of our region. It’s a huge and very rare opportunity to learn and understand so much about other people’s lives and I have discovered new worlds by watching them. Shoplifters turns an intimate story about an unusual family into a metaphorical social analysis that is relevant not only for Japan, but everywhere, where we are faced with a frightening panorama of a family crisis and presented with a utopian alternative in which you can choose your relatives; where closeness becomes a conscious decision (even for children), not a predetermined fate.”
The Cultural Diversity Award under the Patronage of UNESCO was awarded to Garin Nugroho and Ifa Isfansyah for Memories of My Body (Kucumbu Tubuh Indahku). As the winner in this category, Nugroho will present a special screening of his winning film in December in Paris at UNESCO’s Paris Headquarters as part of the Intergovernmental Committee meeting on the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.
Both Burning and Memories of My Body were developed with a grant from APSA’s Academy partnership with the Motion Picture Association (MPA) through the MPA APSA Academy Film Fund.
Nadine Labaki won the Achievement in Directing award for Capharnaüm (Lebanon), while Ivan Ayr received a Special Mention for Soni, and Best Screenplay was awarded to Dan Kleinman and Sameh Zoabi for Tel Aviv on Fire.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui won Best Performance by an Actor for Manto (India), while Best Performance by an Actress went to Chinese star Zhao Tao for Ash is Purest White (Jiang hu er nv) (People’s Republic of China, France).
The full list of winners:
BEST FEATURE FILM
Shoplifters (Manbiki Kazoku) (Japan)
Kore-eda Hirokazu, Matsuzaki Kaoru, Yose Akihiko, Taguchi Hijiri
JURY GRAND PRIZE
Burning (Republic of Korea)
Lee Joon-dong, Lee Chang-dong
CULTURAL DIVERSITY AWARD UNDER THE PATRONAGE OF UNESCO
Memories of My Body (Kucumbu Tubuh Indahku) (Indonesia)
Garin Nugroho, Ifa Isfansyah
ACHIEVEMENT IN DIRECTING
Nadine Labaki for Capharnaüm (Lebanon)
SPECIAL MENTION FOR ACHIEVEMENT IN DIRECTING
Ivan Ayr for Soni (India)
Dan Kleinman, Sameh Zoabi for Tel Aviv on Fire (Israel, Belgium, France, Luxembourg)
ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY
Hideho Urata for A Land Imagined (Singapore, France, Netherlands)
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR
Nawazuddin Siddiqui for Manto (India)
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS
Zhao Tao for Ash is Purest White (Jiang hu er nv) (People’s Republic of China, France)
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Hildur Guðnadóttir, Jóhann Jóhannsson for Mary Magdalene (Australia, UK)
BEST YOUTH FEATURE FILM
The Pigeon (Güvercin)
Banu Savıcı, Mesut Ulutaş (Turkey)
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Rezo (Znaesh’ mama, gde ya byl) (Russian Federation)
Leo Gabriadze, Timur Bekmambetov
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE FILM
Paul Damien Williams, Shannon Swan
YOUNG CINEMA AWARD
Yeo Siew Hua for A Land Imagined (Singapore, France, Netherlands)
FIAPF Award for achievement in film in the Asia Pacific region
Nandita Das (India)
MPA APSA ACADEMY FILM FUND RECIPIENTS
Producer Ifa Isfansyah, director Kamila Andini (Indonesia) for Yuni
Producer Olga Khlasheva, director Adilkhan Yerzhanov (Kazakhstan) for Hell is Empty and All The Devils Are Here
Producer Mai Meksawan, director Uruphong Raksasad (Thailand) for Worship
Director, producer, screenwriter Semih Kaplanoglu (Turkey) for Asli
APSA Academy Bo Ai Film Fund recipient
Director Feras Fayyad (Syria) for feature documentary The Cave
Asia Pacific Screen Lab Recipients
Sherwan Haki (Syria)
Taro Imai (Japan)