Paris, France: The unique collaboration between Australia’s Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) was celebrated last night with a special screening event at UNESCO’s world headquarters in Paris of Rona, Azim’s Mother (Rona, madar-e Azim), winner of the 2019 APSA Cultural Diversity Award under the patronage of UNESCO.

During the event Afghan/Iranian filmmaker Jamshid Mahmoudi was presented with the APSA Award, an exquisite and unique hand-made glass vessel by Brisbane artist Joanna Bone, by UNESCO’s Head, Diversity of Cultural Expressions Entity, and Secretary of UNESCO Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, Mr Toussaint Tiendrebeogo.

Acclaimed documentarian and author Khadija Al-Salami, member of the 2018 APSA Cultural Diversity International Jury and Yemen’s first female filmmaker, introduced the screening and hosted a post-screening discussion with Jamshid Mahmoudi and the audience.

This special screening event was presented during the 13th session of the Intergovernmental Committee that oversees the implementation of the UNESCO 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.

Rona, Azim’s Mother, is a deeply nuanced and heartrending depiction of the life and death issues and bureaucratic frustrations facing a family of Afghan refugees living in Iran, providing an insight into the enduring consequences for displaced populations.

The story was informed by the personal experiences of Jamshid Mahmoudi and his producer brother Navid, both born in Afghanistan, whose family sought refuge in Pakistan, and then Iran, where they live today.  The film was Afghanistan’s Official Submission for the 91st Academy Awards.

Mr Toussaint Tiendrebeogo, Head, Diversity of Cultural Expressions Entity, UNESCO, and Secretary of the UNESCO Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, said “UNESCO is proud of its longstanding partnership with APSA and our joint efforts to promote the diversity of cultural expressions and to support the film industry in particular, which is an important catalyst for sustainable development.  We are honoured to screen the laureate of the 2019 APSA Cultural Diversity Award, Rona, Azim’s Mother, and to welcome the Director Jamshid Mahmoudi to UNESCO on this occasion.”

Director Jamshid Mahmoudi said “Now more than ever, the medium of film is used to document the values, beliefs and culture of the human experience. This film was made to share the stories of our country and our people’s lifelong pain in exile. It was made to ensure that our experience of migration remains a part of the documented history. To receive a prize for this film makes us celebrate. But the most important thing is to have our film chosen to be screened on this special occasion, because it means we succeed in sharing our experience with the world, and for this we feel only happiness.”

Chair of the Asia Pacific Screen Awards and its Academy, Michael Hawkins said, “Film has an extraordinary power to cross cultures and boundaries, to reveal the essence of the human experience, and in doing so, provide an enduring document of cultural expression. APSA’s founding collaboration with UNESCO represents our shared common goals: to promote diversity of cultural expression and raise awareness of the value and power of culture and cultural industries at local, national and international levels.”

The 2019 APSA International Cultural Diversity Jury was chaired by Palestinian filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad (APSA Cultural Diversity Award winner The Idol), with Lebanese documentary-maker and actress Zeina Daccache, and Dương Bích Hạnh, Chief, Culture Unit, the UNESCO Bangkok Office.

 The Brisbane-based APSA and Paris-based UNESCO are celebrating a unique 13-year collaborative relationship and 0 this was the sixth annual screening of its kind, following similar screening events for all of the APSA-winning films in this category since 2014’s Memories on Stone.


Rona, Azim’s Mother APSA Ceremony clip:

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 Rona, Azim’s mother – synopsis

Azim is an Afghan refugee who works at the municipality at night and lives in Tehran along with his family. Being the head of the family and the eldest brother, Azim is in charge of arranging for his brother, Faroogh, and their mother, Rona, to be smuggled into Germany. At the last moment, Azim learns of Faroogh’s decision to not bring Rona with him. In the chaos, he learns of his mother’s need for a kidney transplant. With just two months to live, Azim begins a search for a donor, but in doing so discovers that Iranians are not legally permitted to donate their organs to foreigners and that he is the only possible donor – although their doctor recommends him to not to do so. Now, he has to choose between his own life and his mother’s whom he has always claimed as the most important person in his life.

  Jamshid Mahmoudi was born in 1983 in Afghanistan. He was barely one-year-old when his family sought refuge in Pakistan, and then later in lran. After graduating high school, he passed the entrance exam for Tehran’s University of Art, but preferred to work with his older brother, Navid, who is a film producer. He was an assistant director in television and theatrical features before directing his first TV film in 2008 and three more after that. In 2012, he directed his first feature, A few Cubic Meters of Love, inspired by a true story that took place in Kabul. The film was selected to represent Afghanistan in the Best Foreign Language Film category of the Academy Awards® in 2014 and it screened at over 30 international festivals and won eight awards. In 2016, he worked as the scriptwriter, the producer and editor of the feature film named Parting directed by his brother. In 2019, he completed his second film as writer and director called Rona, Azim’s Mother for which he was nominated for an APSA.


APSA Cultural Diversity Award under the patronage of UNESCO

Previous winners:

2018 – Memories of my Body (KUCUMBU TUBUH INDAHKU) -Indonesia
2017 – DEDE -Georgia, Croatia, Netherlands, Qatar, United Kingdom
2016 – THE DARK WIND (Reşeba) – Iraq, Germany, Qatar
2015 – THE IDOL (YA TAYR EL TAYER) – Palestine, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Netherlands, United Kingdom
2014 – Memories on Stone (BÎRANÎNÊN LI SER KEVIRÎ) –Iraq / Germany
2013 – The Painting Pool – Islamic Republic of Iran
2012 – Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale – Taiwan
2011 – TOOMELAH – Australia
2010 – BAL (HONEY) – Turkey
2008 – Tinar – Islamic Republic of Iran
2007 – The Band’s Visit (BIKUR HATIZMORET) – Israel / Egypt


The region’s highest accolade in film, the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, based in Brisbane, Australia, are supported by Brisbane City Council and managed by economic development board Brisbane Marketing. APSA recognises and promotes the 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.

APSA and its Academy is committed to its ongoing global partnerships with UNESCO, FIAPF, the European Film Academy (EFA), the Motion Picture Association (MPA), Premios Platino del Cine Iberoamericano, NETPAC (Network for the Promotion of Asia Pacific Cinema), the Asia Pacific Screen Lab (APSL) and Griffith Film School.

All APSA nominees, International Nominations Council, Selection Panels and International Jury members are inducted into the prestigious APSA Academy presided over by Australian screen legend Jack Thompson AM PhD. The Academy boasts over 1,200 of the region’s leading filmmakers and provides exclusive networking, development and funding opportunities available to Academy members through the MPA APSA Academy Film Fund, and Academy mentoring opportunities for the next generation of Asia Pacific filmmakers through the Asia Pacific Screen Lab.



UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It seeks to build peace through international cooperation in Education, the Sciences and Culture. UNESCO’s programmes contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals defined in Agenda 2030, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015.

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The Asia Pacific Screen Academy expresses its respect for and acknowledgement of the South East Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners of country, including the custodial communities on whose land works are created and celebrated by the Asia Pacific Screen Awards. We acknowledge the continuing connection to land, waters and communities. We also pay our respects to Elders, past and emerging. We recognise the integral role Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and First Nations peoples continue to play in storytelling and celebration spaces.

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