‘Sweet Country’ takes home Best Feature Film at APSA Awards

24 November, 2017 by Jackie Keast

‘Sweet Country’. 

Warwick Thornton’s Sweet Country was named Best Feature Film at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards held in Brisbane last night.

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Sweet Country is only the second Australian film to take home the award; the first being Thornton’s debut feature Samson and Delilah in 2009. He is the first director to have two films win Best Feature in the awards’ 11 year history.

Set in the 1920s in the Northern Territory’s MacDonnell Ranges and inspired by true events, the film follows the saga that unfolds after an Aboriginal stockman (Hamilton Morris) kills a white station owner (Ewan Leslie) in self-defence. Produced by Bunya Productions’ David Jowsey and Greer Simpkin, and written by David Tranter and Steven McGregor, it also stars Sam Neill, Bryan Brown, Matt Day and Natassia Gorey Furber.

The APSA Award is yet another accolade for Sweet Country, which premiered in competition at the Venice Film Festival, where it won the Special Jury Prize. It has since gone on to win the Platform Prize at the Toronto International Film Festival, Best Dramatic Feature film at the ImagineNATIVE Film Festival in Canada, and the Adelaide Film Festival Audience Award for Best Fiction Feature. It will be released theatrically in Australia via Transmission on January 25, 2018.

Sweet Country was also nominated for Best Screenplay and Achievement in Cinematography at the APSA Awards, the most nominations ever received by an Aussie film.

In a statement, APSA international jury president and film editor Jill Bilcock said Sweet Country was milestone film about Australia’s shameful history.   

“It is uniquely told through Warwick Thornton’s strong cinematic style and personal knowledge of his own culture. Our jury from five countries have been transported by cinema into diverse communities and privileged to share in their personal stories, history and traditions,” she said.

“I was particularly impressed by the rise of stories featuring strong women characters and also the emergence of some truly talented female directors. Overall the Asia Pacific region continues to bring us extraordinary stories and talent with a highly original slant.”

‘Sweet Country’ director Warwick Thonton and producers Greer Simpkin and David Jowsey at the APSA Awards.

In addition to Bilcock, the jury consisted of Filipino writer-director Adolfo Alix Jr, Chinese actress He Saifei, Tokyo Film Festival Programmer Yoshi Yatabe and Kazakh writer, director and cinematographer Adilkhan Yerzhanov.

Other films to win on the night were Dede (Georgia, Croatia, Netherlands, Qatar, UK), which won the Cultural Diversity Award under the patronage of UNESCO, and Georgian and Estonian film Scary Mother, which won a Grand Jury prize for director Ana Urushadze and Best Performance by an Actress for Nata Murvanidze. 

Writers of Indian film Newton, Tewari and Amit V Masurkar, won Best Screenplay, and Best Performance by an Actor went to the film’s star Rajkummar Rao.

The award for Achievement in Directing was won by Russia’s Andrey Zvyagintsev for Loveless, and Achievement in Cinematography went to fellow Russian’s Pyotr Duhovskoy and Timofey Lobov for The Bottomless Bag (Meshok Bez Dna).

The second Jury Grand Prize was awarded to Russian actor Aleksandr Yatsenko for his performance in Arrhythmia (Aritmiya; Russian Federation, Finland, Germany).

At the event, the Motion Picture Association (MPA) also announced the four recipients of the MPA APSA Academy Film Fund, created to support, at script stage, new feature film projects. It awards four $USD25,000 grants annually.

This year’s receipients are:

Rajit Kapur (India) for Paradise in Flames

Robert Connolly (Australia) for Magic Beach

Guy Davidi (Israel) for Senseless

Vladimer Katcharava (Georgia) for Nene

The full list of award recipients:

BEST FEATURE FILM

Sweet Country

Australia

Produced by Greer SIMPKIN, David JOWSEY

Co-Produced by David TRANTER

Directed by Warwick THORNTON

BEST YOUTH FEATURE FILM

 The Seen and Unseen (Sekala Niskala)

Indonesia, Netherlands, Australia, Qatar

Produced by Gita FARA, Kamila ANDINI, Ifa ISFANSYAH

Directed by Kamila ANDINI

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Window Horses: The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming
Canada

Directed and Produced by Ann Marie FLEMING

Co-Produced by Shirley VERCRUYSSE, Michael FUKUSHIMA

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE FILM

Special Mention

Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web

New Zealand

Produced by Alexander BEHSE

Directed and Co-Produced by Annie GOLDSON

WINNER

Last Men in Aleppo

Syrian Arab Republic, Denmark, Germany

Produced by Søren Steen JESPERSEN, Kareem ABEED, Stefan KLOOS

Directed by Feras FAYYAD

ACHIEVEMENT IN DIRECTING 

Andrey ZVYAGINTSEV for Loveless (Nelyubov)

Russian Federation, Belgium, France, Germany

BEST SCREENPLAY

Mayank TEWARI, Amit V MASURKAR for Newton

India

ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY

Pyotr DUKHOVSKOY, Timofey LOBOV for The Bottomless Bag (Meshok Bez Dna)

Russian Federation

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS

Nata MURVANIDZE for Scary Mother (Sashishi Deda)

Georgia, Estonia

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR

Special Mention

Navid MOHAMMADZADEH for No Date, No Signature (Bedoune Tarikh, Bedoune Emza)

Islamic Republic of Iran

WINNER

Rajkummar RAO for Newton

India

CULTURAL DIVERSITY AWARD UNDER THE PATRONAGE OF UNESCO

For outstanding contribution to the promotion and preservation of cultural diversity through film.

Dede

Georgia, Croatia, Netherlands, Qatar, United Kingdom

Directed by Mariam KHATCHVANI

Produced by Vladimer KATCHARAVA, Samantha TAYLOR, Mike DOWNEY, Igor A. NOLA

Co-Produced by Conrad ALLEBLAS, Jamillah VAN DER HULST

Special Mention

Lady of the Lake (Loktak Lairembee)

India

Directed by Haobam Paban KUMAR

Produced by Haobam Paban KUMAR

Co-Produced by Thiyam ROMOLA DEVI, Haobam IBETOMBI, Warepam JHANSIRANI

FIAPF AWARD

Bianca BALBUENA

Philippines

Determined by FIAPF–International Federation of Film Producers Associations for outstanding achievement in film in the Asia Pacific region.

YOUNG CINEMA AWARD

Ilgar NAJAF for Pomegranate Orchard (Nar Baği)
Azerbaijan

Awarded by the NETPAC Jury, the Young Cinema Award presented by NETPAC (Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema) and Griffith Film School (GFS) recognises the abundant emerging talent of the Asia Pacific.

ARTISTIC ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Abbas KIAROSTAMI for 24 Frames

Islamic Republic of Iran, France

The APSA 2017 International Nominations Council commends Abbas Kiarostami with a special Artistic Acknowledgement, and the APSA Academy confers a posthumous Academy membership on him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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