As the 8th Asia Pacific Screen Academy (APSA) Awards draws near, Meet The Filmmakers launches our Profile Series with a look at the five talented gentlemen vying for the Best Actor honour…
Liao Fan – Black Coal, Thin Ice (Dir: Diao Yinan; People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong; pictured, above)
With Berlin’s Silver Bear already to his name, Liao Fan’s brittle, bruised ex-cop in Diao Yinan’s bleak murder-mystery has already drawn comparisons to the classic hardened gumshoes of cinema’s noir heyday (Variety said, “it’s easy to imagine Bogart or Mitchum in the detective role.”) The actor’s broad range and work ethic has made him a bankable player in PRC cinema, where he adapts comfortably into hardcore action heroics (Chinese Zodiac, 2012; Let the Bullets Fly, 2010); broad comedy (Full Circle, 2012); historical melodrama (Assembly, 2007; Beginning of the Great Revival, 2011) and, romantic whimsy (Love on Credit, 2011; A Bed Affair 2, 2014).
David Gulpilil – Charlie’s Country (Dir: Rolf de Heer; Australia)
Born of the ancient Yolngu nation of Arnhem Land, the enigmatic David Gulpilil (pictured, right) is Australian cinema’s most enigmatic acting treasure. From his debut in Nicholas Roeg’s Walkabout (1970) and through iconic roles in Storm Boy (1976), The Last Wave (1977), Crocodile Dundee (1986) and Dead Heart (1996), Gulpilil undertook to subvert and redefine how Aboriginal culture and manhood is depicted in Australian cinema. On the Australian Screen webpage for the actor, author Liz McNiven says that Gulpilil “brought the realism of ethnography into his portrayal of Aboriginality.” Charlie’s Country, which sees him reteaming with kindred spirit Rolf de Heer (The Tracker, 2002; Ten Canoes, 2006), earned the actor the prestigious Un Certain Regard Best Actor trophy at Cannes 2014.
Navid Mohammadzadeh – I’m Not Angry! (Dir: Reza Dormishan; Islamic Republic of Iran).
Despite being the youngest of the five APSA nominees, Navid Mohammadzadeh (pictured, left; with co-star Baran Kosari) exudes a wealth of life experience and innate sense of realism in his portrayal of writer/director Reza Dormishan’s lovestruck political activist. From a support part as a deaf son in Mohammad Shirvani’s Fat Shaker (2013), the young actor was cast in his first lead role. The performance has been lauded by some of the festival circuit’s most hardened press corps. The Hollywood Reporter says the young actor “leaves an indelible impression”, his impact that of “a time bomb waiting to explode.”
Mahendra Perera – 28 (Dir: Prasana Jayakody; Sri Lanka)
One of Sri Lanka’s most prolific and respected thespians, character actor Mahendra Perera (pictured, right) graduated to true leading man status after a series of compelling star turns across various film genres. Announcing his talent in veteran director Prasanna Vithanage high-profile works Walls Within (1997) and Death on a Full Moon Day (1997), he soon came to prominence with the hits Saroja (2000) and Flying with One Wing (2002). Recently, memorable roles in the wartime melodrama Ira Handa Yata, (2010), the romantic comedy Super Six (2012), historical epic Kusa Paba (2012) and the rural saga Abinikmana (2013) led to his career-defining turn as Abasiri in Prasanna Jayakody’s hot-button social drama, 28. His portrayal helped the film to the Best Asian Film honour at this year’s Rotterdam International Film Festival.
Cliff Curtis – The Dark Horse (Dir: James Napier Robertson; New Zealand)
From his humble upbringing in Rotorua, Cliff Curtis has carved out an international career the envy of many. Following his 1993 debut in Jane Campion’s The Piano, he created one of New Zealand’s cinema’s most despised characters – the insidious Uncle Bully in Lee Tamahori’s Once Were Warriors. Spreading his wings, he undertook a Hollywood career, where LA producers used his unique features and immense talent in a range of ethnically ambiguous roles opposite the likes of Harrison Ford (Six Days Seven Nights, 1998), George Clooney (Three Kings, 1999), Nicholas Cage (Martin Scorsese’s Bringing Out The Dead, 1999), Al Pacino (The Insider, 1999), Johnny Depp (Blow, 2001) and Denzel Washington (Training Day, 2001). He returns to his homeland for passion projects – Niki Caro’s Whale Rider (2002), Vincent Ward’s River Queen (2005) and, in 2014, James Napier Robertson’s deeply moving The Dark Horse. As real-life chess champion/mental health sufferer Gen Potini, an unrecognisable Curtis gives the performance of his already brilliant career.
Winners will be announced at APSA Award ceremony, to be held at Brisbane’s City Hall on Thursday, December 11.Share: