Local talent to the fore at ‘Oscars of the southern hemisphere’

Leah Purcell and Essie Davis have been nominated alongside feature film When Pomegranates Howl in the region’s biggest film awards as the Gold Coast prepares to roll out the red carpet for the awards ceremony.

Oct 18, 2021, updated Oct 18, 2021
Mohammad Atebbai in When Pomegranates Howl (Image: Supplied)

Mohammad Atebbai in When Pomegranates Howl (Image: Supplied)

It has been a big year for Australian film, landing blockbuster productions, the opening of new production facilities, and a slew of film festivals to celebrate the output.

Now the hard work is being recognised at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, nominating actors Purcell, Davis and Caleb Landry Jones alongside feature film When Pomegranates Howl. 

Two Australian actresses are nominated for Best Performance by an Actress, Queensland native Purcell for her performance in The Drover’s Wife, a film she wrote and directed based on the tales of bush poet Henry Lawson.

Davis is also nominated for her performance in Gaysorn Thavat’s social drama, The Justice of Bunny King, also starring American actor Caleb Landry Jones.

Landry Jones is nominated for Best Performance by an Actor for his disquieting performance in Nitram, an Australian film which traces the life of Martin Bryant, the shooter responsible for the Port Arthur Massacre.

The Drover’s Wife and The Justice of Bunny King will both screen at the Brisbane International Film Festival from 21 to 31 October.

Caleb Landry-Jones in Justin Kurzel’s Nitram (Image: Supplied)

The list of Australian nominations also includes  acclaimed Iranian-Australian writer and director Granaz Moussavi for When Pomegranates Howl.

“I’m very excited and honoured to be nominated for the APSA Youth Feature Film Award, and am hoping that my film will find a wider audiences who will relate to the plight of children stuck in adult wars,” said Moussavi.

The film is nominated for Best Youth Feature Film and charts the tale of nine-year-old aspiring movie star Hewad making a living on the streets of Kabul.

Films from Japan and Islamic Republic of Iran lead the awards overall with seven nominations each.

Two Cannes-winners, Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Drive My Car and Asghar Farhadi’s A Hero (Ghahreman), achieved the most nominations both up for four categories: Best Feature Film, Achievement in Directing, Best Screenplay and Best Performance by an Actor.

Chair of the Asia Pacific Screen Academy Tracey Vieira said the APSAs set a high bar for celebration of cultural diversity and cinematic excellence which is why it is so exciting to see so many Australian productions among the nominees.

“APSA continues to identify, support and amplify the careers of emerging storytellers throughout Asia Pacific, with 18 of the 38 nominated films by first or second feature directors,” said Vieira.

“And perhaps most importantly, APSA continues to honour and respect the many cultures of this richly diverse region as represented through cinematic excellence.”

Leah Purcell, writer, director, and lead actress in The Drover’s Wife (Image: Supplied)

The awards ceremony will be held at the Gold Coast’s Home of the Arts (HOTA) on 11 November.

“As Mayor, I’ve replaced the red carpet with a gold carpet as we roll out the welcome mat for these awards and the amazing talent that supports the industry,” said Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate.

“The Asia Pacific Screen Forum underscores our city’s commitment to this global industry.”

The event will also include the third Asia Pacific Screen Forum, a six day event which will host 30 industry leaders in conversation including Granaz Moussavi, Leah Purcell, and award-winning Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, whose feature film Memoria will screen at the event.

“Each year, the Asia Pacific Screen Awards shines a light on inspirational talent from the region, including Queensland’s diverse and creative local content creators,” said Screen Queensland Chief Executive Kylie Munnich.

As host for the Awards and the Forum, our state is positioned as an important screen hub for the wider Asia Pacific region. Screen Queensland is proud of our ongoing support of the event, which allows Queensland practitioners to connect and collaborate with industry counterparts from across the Asia Pacific.”

The 14th annual Asia Pacific Screen Awards will be hosted at HOTA on 11 November, for the full list of nominees visit their website. 

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