LEAH PURCELL WINS JURY GRAND PRIZE FOR
THE DROVER’S WIFE THE LEGEND OF MOLLY JOHNSON
14th Asia Pacific Screen Awards

Gold Coast: The 14th Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA) International Jury has awarded Goa-Gunggari-Wakka Wakka Murri Woman Leah Purcell O.A.M. the prestigious APSA Jury Grand Prize for her stunning achievement in co-producing, writing, directing and starring in The Drover’s Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson (Oombarra Productions and Bunya Productions). Purcell is the first Australian to receive the APSA Jury Grand Prize.

In presenting the award, APSA International Jury member and Sydney Film Festival director Nashen Moodley said “I am honoured to present you with the Jury Grand Prize, not just for your singular vision in writing, directing, producing and starring in the film but the journey to bring this remarkable story, viewed through the lens of a First Nations woman to the screen in its entirety, through your many multi award-winning adaptations.”

The International Jury cited that the film represents “not only an artist’s total dedication to her craft but also a spirited act of courage and tenacity. The Drover’s Wife is a film that quickly makes its way into the heart, taking a well known genre, and exploding it into a much needed story of survival, loss, and resilience.”

The 14th APSA Ceremony, presented from HOTA (Home of the Arts), Gold Coast saw ten films from eleven countries and areas of Asia Pacific receive awards, with the event also marking the official opening of the 3rd Asia Pacific Screen Forum (Nov 11-16).

In accepting the Prize, Leah Purcell acknowledged the Elders of Yugambeh Country, Gold Coast before saying “Thankyou to the 14th Asia Pacific Screen Awards and their prestigious Jury for your recognition of my effort in making this film, the many hats that I wore and the voice that I had given it as a First Nations woman. Truly, thankyou for this validation.

As we know, filmmaking is a collaborative effort and I must thank and acknowledge my family Elders, Elders of the Monaro Ngarigo on whose Country we filmed, my cast, crew, Heads of Department, production personnel, producers, distributors, private investors and funding bodies for their tireless effort, expertise and experience, their trust and belief in me for wearing all of those hats, and actually pulling it off, because without them this film would not be possible.

I also want to acknowledge my partner in life and business, and lead producer of the film, Bain Stewart, for his massive, tireless and unwavering effort, who stood beside me, supporting me fearlessly with determination and total belief in me and our film. Lots of love and respect to you. Without you I would not be here.

Purcell finished in ‘gungarri’, her Grandmother’s Language, saying “Ma altjeringa yirra Baiame. Thanks to the ancestors for this very moment.”

Chair of the Asia Pacific Screen Academy Tracey Vieira said “The Asia Pacific Screen Academy remains fiercely committed to supporting and celebrating the screen industries of Asia Pacific, and I congratulate all the winners in the 14th Asia Pacific Screen Awards, and acknowledge the many extraordinary nominees whose work we honoured here tonight.”

“I also warmly welcome those attending the 3rd Asia Pacific Screen Forum which commenced today, and has garnered an audience joining our accessible virtual sessions from as far afield as the UK, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, People’s Republic of China and Mongolia, as well as across Australia, and in person here on the Gold Coast. Through our deep connections with industry across the region, we have crafted a truly outstanding program,” Ms Vieira said.

Leah Purcell will appear in a special virtual Asia Pacific Screen Forum event, From Page to Screen – Film Adaptations on Sunday 14 November at 10.30 AEST.

The Drovers Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson is in cinemas across Australia on May 5, 2022.

The Drover’s Wife the Legend of Molly Johnson is a Oombarra and Bunya Productions production. Major production investment from Screen Australia in association with Screen NSW.

The Jury Grand Prize was announced by Screen Queensland’s CEO Kylie Munnich who said “Born-and-raised Queenslander Leah Purcell, is one of the country’s most influential and inspiring voices in the industry, and Screen Queensland is delighted to have invested in and collaborated with Leah’s company Oombarra Productions, to facilitate the creation of new, exciting and authentic First Nations screen stories.”

Two Jury Grand Prizes were awarded in 2021 with the other going to Abdullah Mohammad Saad, director of Rehana (Rehana Maryam Noor), for “the precision of its filmmaking language which made it possible, by the only specific means of cinema, to detail the psychological and factual stages of a woman’s fight for justice and to reveal, in an absolutely remarkable ending, how she prepares her little girl to be courageous and to fight all forms of injustice.”

Abdullah Mohammad Saad said “We are thrilled, we are excited. I must say, the film is the result of an incredible team effort. I am grateful to my brilliant cast and crew. I am sure I wouldn’t be receiving this award without their sacrifice and commitment, so all the credit goes to them.”

Rehana star Azmeri Haque Badhon was awarded Best Performance by an Actress for this outstanding film. In her acceptance speech, Azmeri Haque Badhon dedicated the film to “those in my country and around the world who are deprived from their freedom, rights, and feel lost every moment.”

This is the second film from Bangladesh to be awarded the APSA Jury Grand Prize, after Mostofa Sarwar Farooki’s Television in 2013.

Drive My Car announced as Best Feature Film, awarded to director Ryusuke Hamaguchi and producer Teruhisa Yamamoto, with the film also winning Best Screenplay for Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Oe Takamasa.

The APSA International Jury said “In his potent drama of secrets and trauma, Ryusuke Hamaguchi x-rays his damaged characters, each haunted by their past, as he incisively explores ideas of love, desire, infidelity, guilt and atonement. The result is an indelible film of immense power.”

Ryusuke Hamaguchi thanked his cast and crew and said “I’m deeply honoured that our film was selected not only for the Best Screenplay but also for the Best Feature Film at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards. I’d like to thank Mr. Haruki Murakami for his original work. Our film is based on his novel ‘Drive My Car’. We made many changes to the original, and Mr. Murakami let us write freely. We deeply appreciate Mr. Murakami’s decision to share his story with us. Also, I’d like to thank Mr. Takamasa Oe, our co-writer, for his advice and support. Without his presence and contribution, the screenplay would never be completed.”

This is Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s second Screenplay APSA after winning the award for Happy Hour in 2016 with co-writers Tadashi Nohara and Tomoyuki Takahashi.

Iranian auteur Asghar Farhadi was awarded Achievement in Directing for A Hero (Ghahreman) which the International Jury called “an intimate epic. Asghar Farhadi continues to perfect the fine art of making cinema that is hyper local yet also globally understood and universally loved.”

Achievement in Cinematography went to Nguyễn Vinh Phúc for Taste (Vị), with the film’s director Lê Bảo awarded the Young Cinema Award in partnership with NETPAC and GFS. In accepting the award, Nguyễn thanked director Lê Bảo and his team on the film saying “I think this award is the sweet fruits dedicated to the entire film crew, and I am just the lucky one to represent everyone to receive this.”

The International Jury said “Taste has remarkable cinematography, it’s beautiful humility serves the film’s compassion for the poor, where nudity expresses destitution, fragility and consolation.”

Best Performance by an Actor was awarded to Georgian actor Merab Ninidze for Alexey German Jr’s House Arrest (Delo) with the International Jury calling his performance “simply extraordinary in this biting satire on political repression; somehow managing to simultaneously convey bravery, rage and a wicked sense of humour. Though physically constrained within an apartment for the largest part of the film, there are no bounds to this masterful, explosive performance.”

The five-member International Jury was comprised of President, French/Vietnamese filmmaker Trần Anh Hùng, leading Palestinian filmmaker Annemarie Jacir, Director of Sydney Film Festival Nashen Moodley (Australia), Indian photographer, screenwriter and filmmaker Sooni Taraporevala and President of Heaven Pictures and Director of China Film Foundation – Wu Tianming Film Fund for Young Talents, Janet Wu (People’s Republic of China).

Meanwhile, the three-member Youth, Animation, Documentary International Jury determined the winners for Best Youth Feature Film, Best Animated Feature Film and Best Documentary Feature Film. Jury Chair Anocha Suwichakornpong (Thailand) was joined by Screen International Deputy Asia Editor and Korea Correspondent Jean Noh (Republic of Korea) and internationally sought-after New Zealand animator, Antony Elworthy.

Best Youth Feature Film was awarded to director Yoon Dan-bi for Moving On (Nam-mae-wui Yeo-reum-bam, Republic of Korea) who acknowledged the common language of cinema in her thanks for the Award saying “the fact that the cinema is still moving forward gives me the motivation to work on the next project.”

Best Animated Feature Film went to Andrey Khrzhanovsky’s The Nose or The Conspiracy of Mavericks (Nos ili zagovor netakikh, Russian Federation) with the Jury noting how the film stood out amongst the strong field of animated films with its originality, and clear and powerful message, and, skillfully realised with traditional animation techniques, yet with a post-modern twist.

In accepting the Award, filmmaker Andrey Khrzhanovsky spoke of the significance of this prize. “It is a really great honour for me. It is very important to receive this Prize here in Asia, because Asian culture and art is a great phenomenon in general.”

Best Documentary Feature Film was awarded to Sabaya (Sweden). Filmmaker Hogir Hirori said “This award is not only an important recognition of everything that the ISIS survivors have been through but it also brings much needed attention to the fight to save the more than 2000 Yazidi women and girls that are still held captive by ISIS and reunite them with their families.”

Two special awards representing APSA’s founding partnerships with UNESCO and FIAPF were announced last week.

The Cultural Diversity Award under the patronage of UNESCO is awarded to Sri Lanka’s Prasanna Vithanage for Children of the Sun (Gaadi). Despite many previous APSA nominations for Sri Lankan films, this award marks the first win. Revered filmmaker Prasanna Vithanage said “I am extremely happy to receive this award today. Gaadi has been a dream project for me. I have been working for thirty years for this project. Today I would like to thank the entire team of Gaadi who contributed to give a long-due dignity to a group of people who have been treated as human dust in Sri Lanka.”

The FIAPF Award for Outstanding Contribution to Asia Pacific Cinema, determined by APSA founding partner FIAPF–International Federation of Film Producers Associations, was awarded to prolific Russian producer, Sergey Selyanov.

The four recipients of MPA APSA Academy Film Fund grants were also announced during the APSA Ceremony.
Now in its 12th year, the Fund was created to support the development of new feature film projects by APSA Academy members and their colleagues from the culturally diverse Asia Pacific region. The fund awards four development grants of US$25,000 annually, and is wholly supported by the MPA. In 2021, the four recipients are:

Dea Kulumbegashvili (Georgia) for HISTORIA
Rakhshan Bani-Etemad (Islamic Republic of Iran) for RED MIST DESCENDING
Teng Mangansakan (Philippines) for THE SPELLCASTER OF TAMONTACA
Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Thailand) for 9 TEMPLES TO HEAVEN

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