Kazakh comedy wins Asia-Pacific best movie award

CANBERRA (Reuters Life!) - A Kazakh comedy about a family coping with the harsh life of sheep and goat herding on a barren landscape took top honors at the second annual Asia-Pacific Screen Awards on Tuesday.

The movie “Tulpan,” the first feature film by Kazakh documentary-maker Sergey Dvortsevoy, is set in southern Kazakhstan and tells of a young nomad who returns from military service to a family yurt and tries to win the heart of his neighbor, Tulpan.

The film, which won several awards including the top prize in the Un Certain Regard sidebar at the Cannes Film Festival, beat Hong Kong’s “Men Jeuk” (Sparrow), Turkish film “Uc Maymun” (Three Monkeys), “Om Shanti Om” from India, and China’s “The Red Awn” for top prize.

Israeli actress Hiam Abbass won the award for best actress for her role in Israeli movie “Etz Halimon” (Lemon Tree), which also won the award for best screenplay, while the best actor award went to Iranian Reza Naji for his performance in “Avaze Gonjeshk-Ha” (The Song of Sparrows).

Des Power, chairman of the Asia Pacific Screen Awards that were set up last year to help promote films from the Asia-Pacific internationally, said the region was “the emerging giant of cinema.”

“The quality and depth of story-telling amazed not only our jury this year but is certain to attract more audience at the global level,” Power said in a statement after announcing the awards in a ceremony on the Gold Coast, Queensland.

“There is a growing fascination and respect for films from this diverse region.”

A total of 32 films from 17 countries were finalists in the awards, an international cultural initiative by the state government of Queensland, with winners coming from Kazakhstan, Israel, Korea, Australia, Turkey, Iran, and China.

The awards were determined by an international jury headed by Academy Award nominated Australian director Bruce Beresford. This year, the jury awarded its grand prize to two films -- China’s “The Red Awn” and “The Prisoner” from India.

The award for best animated feature film was won by “Vals Im Bashir (Waltz With Bashir) from Israel.

Best documentary went to Korea’s “Ggeutnaji Anhmeun Jeon Jaeng” (63 Years On) while best children’s film was “The Black Balloon” from Australia.

The achievement in directing was awarded to Turkey’s Nuri Bilge Ceylan for “Uc Maymun” while the achievement in cinematography was awarded to Korean Lee Mogae for “Joheunnom Nabbeunnom Isanghannom (The Good, The Bad, The Weird).

Yash Chopra, founder of Yashraj Films and a major player in the Indian film industry, was awarded the FIAPF (International Federation of Film Producers Associations) Award for outstanding achievement in film in the Asia-Pacific region.

Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Miral Fahmy