One of the first projects supported by the MPA APSA Academy Film Fund, Nader and Simin: A Separation by acclaimed Iranian writer/director Asghar Farhadi, is set to debut at the 2011 Berlin International Film Festival in the main competition section.

Farhadi’s fifth feature as director is one of 22 films that will compete for the 61st Golden Bear in Berlin where his previous film, Darbareye Elly (About Elly), won the Silver Bear in 2009.

Farhadi received a US $25,000 grant through the MPA APSA Academy Film Fund, a total of US $100,000 in development grants supported wholly by the Motion Picture Association (MPA), available exclusively to the members of the Academy of the Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA).

The APSA Academy is a growing body of Asia Pacific’s most influential names in film, made up of past APSA Nominees, International Jury and Nominations Council members.

Farhadi was inducted into the APSA Academy in 2009 for Darbareye Elly (About Elly), winner of APSA’s Best Screenplay Award and Jury Grand Prize.

Four projects received funding through the inaugural MPA APSA Academy Film Fund and Nader and Simin: A Separation is the first of these to be completed. The other recipients announced at the fourth annual APSA Ceremony were Sergey Dvortsevoy (Kazakhstan), Peng Tao (People’s Republic of China) and three-time APSA Winner, Lee Chang-dong (Republic of Korea).

APSA Chairman Des Power said: “I am delighted that Nader and Simin: A Separation will premiere in Berlin and I warmly congratulate Asghar Farhadi on its selection. The fact that our film fund played some part in enabling this film’s development is immensely gratifying for us in our first year of collaboration with the MPA.

I commend the MPA for their support of this initiative. The development of the film fund was an important step for APSA. Not only are we acclaiming and promoting the outstanding work of the Asia Pacific region through our Awards Ceremony and documentary programs, we are now making a tangible contribution to the region’s production slate at a crucial stage of development.”

Asghar Farhadi said: “When I had the initial idea for the script, I wasn’t sure whether foreign audiences unfamiliar with my culture would be able to relate to the story. The support and encouragement of the MPA APSA Academy Film Fund made me realize the international potential of the film and that it will be accepted and understood internationally.”

“We are delighted that Asghar Farhadi’s new film will compete at the Berlin International Film Festival this month, and are pleased to have been able to contribute to its production,” said Mike Ellis, President and Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Motion Picture Association, “It’s wonderful to see that the Film Fund with APSA is already bearing fruit. We wish Asghar and the other recipients of the film fund all the best with their current projects.”

The 61st Berlin International Film Festival runs from February 10 – 20, 2011.

In solidarity with jailed Iranian director Jafar Panahi, the festival will present a special tribute with his films showing in four different sections of the program. Jafar Panahi is also a member of the APSA Academy and sat on the inaugural Jury of the Asia Pacific Screen Awards in 2007. The Berlin Film Festival had invited Panahi to participate on its 2011 jury shortly before his sentencing in December 2010 when he and fellow filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof (Director/Producer of 2010 APSA official entry The White Meadows) were sentenced to six years in jail for a charge of making films against the Iranian regime.

APSA is an international cultural initiative of the Queensland Government, Australia and a unique collaboration with UNESCO and FIAPF-International Federation of Film Producers Associations. APSA acclaims films from more than 70 countries and areas; one third of the earth; and half the world’s film output.

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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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