Acclaimed Thai auteur and visual artist Apichatpong Weerasethakul was today presented with the 9th Asia Pacific Screen Award for Best Feature Film, for his film Cemetery of Splendour. Unable to attend the 9th APSA Ceremony in Brisbane last November, Weerasethakul was today also officially inducted into the prestigious Asia Pacific Screen Academy, a growing body of over 870 of the region’s most respected filmmakers.

The Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA), proudly an Australian initiative, is the region’s highest accolade in film. 2016 marks the tenth year that APSA has recognised and promoted cinematic excellence and cultural diversity of the world’s fastest growing film region: comprising 70 countries and areas, 4.5 billion people, and responsible for half of the world’s film output. The prestigious APSA Award for Diversity of Cultural Expression in partnership with UNESCO honours a filmmaker for the preservation of cultural diversity through film.

Winners of the prestigious APSA for Best Feature Film encompass the cinematic footprint of our vast region, its rich cultural diversity and some of the biggest talents in the industry, with previous Awards being presented to Leviathan (Russian Federation), Omar (Palestine), Beyond the Hill (Turkey, Greece), A Separation (Islamic Republic of Iran), Aftershock(People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong PRC), Samson & Delilah (Australia), Tulpan (Kazakhstan, Russian Federation, Switzerland, Poland, Germany), Secret Sunshine (Republic of Korea) and now Cemetery of Splendour (Thailand, Malaysia, Germany, France,

United Kingdom). This rich diversity of stories reveals the breadth of the APSA Competition.

This event mirrors previous APSA off-shore events; in Beijing where presentations were made to the globally renowned actress Zhang Ziyi for her performance in The Grandmaster and cinematographer Lu Yue for his work on Feng Xiaogang’s Back to 1942, and in Busan where Korean star Lee Byung-hun was presented with the 2013 Best Performance by an Actor Award for his dual performance in the Korean blockbuster Masquerade. Lee notably presented the Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards® earlier this year. Testament to the growing international eminence of the awards, APSA held events with UNESCO last year at its Paris headquarters and with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) at their Washington DC headquarters.

APSA Film Director Maxine Williamson presented the Award to Weerasethakul, a unique hand-made glass vessel created by award winning Brisbane-based glass artist Joanna Bone. Weerasethakul is in Australia unveiling a new installation work, Home Movie, at the Biennale of Sydney.

“The APSAs are defined by their celebration of cultural diversity and filmmaking excellence. In presenting Best Feature Film to Cemetery of Splendour, the APSA International Jury have recognised one of the most original voices in contemporary cinema and we are thrilled to welcome Apichatpong Weerasethakul to the Asia Pacific Screen Academy. We were pleased to have the film’s co-producer Najwa Abu Bakar attend the Ceremony and accept the award last November, and it is an honour to have the opportunity to present the Award to producer, writer, director Apichatpong Weerasethakul personally.” Ms Williamson said.

In accepting the award, Apichatpong Weerasethakul said “This award is truly an honour and it is a highlight in a long journey. Cinema is still young and we have a lot of surprises ahead and in this ever-growing space there will be more generations joining us. Hopefully, with more voices there will be more tolerance and more freedom. With this in mind I appreciate APSA and its members in its mission to celebrate the diversity of cinema. We are important in this process of our evolution, so lets keep this friendship strong.”

The 10th Asia Pacific Screen Awards will be held on Thursday 24 November 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. The APSA Official Competition is now open.

The Asia Pacific Screen Awards are proudly presented by Treasury Casino and Hotel, supported by Brisbane City Council and managed by economic development board Brisbane Marketing in a unique collaboration with Paris-based UNESCO and FIAPF-International Federation of Film Producers Associations. In 2015, 39 films from 22 Asia Pacific countries and areas received award nominations.

All nominees, International Nominations Council and APSA International Jury members are inducted into the APSA Academy presided over by President, Australian screen legend Jack Thompson AM PhD. The Academy boasts over 870 of the region’s leading filmmakers and provides exclusive networking, development and funding opportunities available to Academy members through the APSA Academy NETPAC Development Prize, the MPA APSA Academy Film Fund, the APSA Academy Children’s Film Fund and Academy mentoring opportunities for the next generation of Asia Pacific filmmakers through the Asia Pacific Screen Lab. The APSA’s Academy partner, the European Film Academy shares the common interest of presenting pan-International Awards that promote and award excellence in cinema.

About Cemetery of Splendour (Rak Ti Khon KaenThailand, Malaysia, Germany, France, UK

Produced by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Keith Griffiths, Simon Field, Charles de Meaux, Michael Weber, Hans W. Geißendörfer

Co-produced by Viola Fügen, Najwa Abu Bakar, Moisés Cosio Espinosa, Eric Vogel, Ingunn Sundelin, Joslyn Barnes, Caroleen Feeney, Danny Glover.

In northeast Thailand, soldiers with a mysterious sleeping sickness are sent to a temporary hospital. The memory-filled space becomes a revelatory world for housewife and volunteer Jenjira, as she watches over the handsome soldier Itt. Jen befriends a young medium who uses psychic powers to help communicate with the comatose men, and to ease their troubled dreams, doctors experiment with a visually arresting coloured light therapy. The clinic, a former school, is built on a mythic ancient site that may have a connection to the soldiers’ mysterious syndrome… This mesmerizing story, containing elements of both gritty and magical realism, follows Jen on her path to a deeper awareness, a meandering path of healing, romance and dreams.

About Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Working independently of the Thai commercial film industry, Apichatpong Weersasethakul is active in promoting experimental and independent filmmaking through his company Kick the Machine. His unique style which is often non-linear, with a strong sense of dislocation, his works deal with memory, subtly addressed personal politics and social issues.

His art projects and feature films have won him widespread recognition and numerous festival prizes, including two prizes from the Cannes Film Festival. In 2005 he was presented with one of Thailand’s most prestigious awards, Silpatorn, by the Thai Ministry of Culture. In 2008, the French Minister of Culture bestowed on him the medal of Chevalier de l’ordre des arts et des letter (Knight of the Order of Arts and Literature). In 2011, he was given another honor for the same field with an Officer Medal.

His film, Syndromes and a Century, completed in late 2006, was the first Thai film to be selected for competition at the Venice Film Festival. Apichatpong is also one of 20 international artists and filmmakers commissioned to create a short film for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 2009, the Austrian Film Museum published a major English language monograph on his work.

His 2009 project, Primitive, consists of a large-scale video installation, an artist’s book, and a feature film, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. The film has won a Palme d’Or prize at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival in 2010, making it the first Southeast Asian film (and the 7th from Asia) to win the most prestigious award in the film world. In 2012, he is invited to participate in Documenta (13), one of the most well-known art exhibitions in Kassel, Germany. Apichatpong also received the Sharjah Biennial Prize at the 2013 Sharjah Biennial 11, UAE. He’s also a recipient of the Fukuoka Prize, Japan, 2013. In late 2014, he received the Yanghyun Art Prize, one of the most prestigious prizes in Korea. In 2016, his retrospective will be presented at Tate Britain, UK.

Apichatpong currently works and lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Apichatpong grew up in Khon Kaen in north-eastern Thailand. He began making film and video shorts in 1994, and completed his first feature in 2000. He has also mounted exhibitions and installations in many countries since 1998.

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