Five Indian films - Gandhi My Father, Dharm, Eklavya, Mithiya and Taal (Bengali) - have been nominated for the inaugural Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA) to be held on the Gold Coast in November.
An international jury, headed by acclaimed Indian actress and activist Shabana Azmi, will determine the winners in each category. The jury will meet on the Gold Coast from Nov 7.
"It is great that the head of the jury will be an Indian. Shabana is of course an international figure," said Aruna Vasudev, founder president of the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema, who is in Brisbane this week attending the APSA Nominations Council meeting.
"We are watching 80 films from 30 countries over five days. It has been a very interesting experience to see all these films together and deliberate with such an exciting group of eminent film professionals," Vasudev told IANS.
APSA will showcase the talent and cinematic diversity of a region covering one-third of the earth's surface and 60 per cent of its total population.
It will bring together movie making styles from the classical and traditional to the experimental and cutting edge, from the multifaceted industries of India to the stylised horror genres of Japan, from the allegorical tragedies and comedies of Korea to the extraordinary tapestry of Chinese cinema. It will also showcase the poetry and reality of Persian cinema and visionary narratives of the Middle East.
"We are all knowledgeable about this region but it is amazing how different our reactions are to films. We will be nominating five films for each of the nine categories," said Vasudev, who was recently conferred France's top cultural award, the Chevalier des Arts et Lettres.
The awards this year will be presented for Best Feature Film, Best Animated Film, Best Documentary, Best Children's Film, Achievement in Directing, Best Screenplay, Achievement in Cinematography, Performance by an Actress and Performance by an Actor.
Two additional awards will be presented for outstanding achievement. They are the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF) Award for outstanding achievement in film in the Asia-Pacific region, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) Award for outstanding contribution to the promotion and preservation of cultural diversity through film.
"This is equivalent to the European Film Awards but with 80 entries for the inaugural awards there is a big challenge ahead to cope with the number of films being submitted," said Vasudev, who is also the founder director of Cinefan Festival of Asian Cinema (now Osian's-Cinefan) and founder editor of Cinemaya, an Asian film quarterly (now Osian's-Cinemaya).
Besides India, films have been submitted from Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Iran, Nepal, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Egypt, Iraq, Russia, Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, Australia and New Zealand.
APSA engages CNN International, Unesco and the FIAPF in a unique partnership to acclaim films that best reflect their cultural origins and cinematic excellence.
"This is very intense, unlike a festival," said Vasudev, who has been a member of several major film festival juries including Cannes (Camera d'Or), Locarno, Thessaloniki, Singapore, Fajr (Teheran), Karlovy Vary, Istanbul, Antalya and Hawaii.