The countdown is on for the major film event of the Asia Pacific region.

22 Oct 2015 - 2:50 PM  UPDATED 22 Oct 2015 - 2:50 PM

Hou Hsiao-hsien's The Assassin heads the contenders for the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, after nominations were announced Thursday in Brisbane.

The counter-intuitive art-house martial arts film will compete for the best film prize with Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Cemetery of Splendour, Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Journey to the Shore, and the Korean features End of Winter directed by Kim Dae-hwan and Alive, directed by Park Jung-bum.

Best director nominations go to Kazakhstan's Yermek Tursunov for Stranger and Alexsey German Jr for Under Electric Clouds, as well as Park, Hou and Weerasethakul.

Watch a clip for The Assassin:

The nominations stretch far and wide with a total of 39 films from 22 countries across the UNESCO defined Asia Pacific region receiving nominations.

That inclusiveness means that only The Assassin and China's A Corner of Heaven receive three nominations. Six films are nominated in two categories.

The Assassin review: Fleeting battles make way for exquisitely beautiful, lingering shots
Like Hou’s cinema, taking a life of someone you loved is not something to be considered idly.

"The seven member 2015 APSA International Nominations Council headed by Professor Kim Hong-Joon faced an incredibly difficult task in determining these nominees, from what was agreed to be the strongest field of films in competition in APSA's nine year history," said Maxine Williamson, APSA's film director.

Winners in the feature film award achievements will be decided by a jury that is headed by Kim Dong-Ho and also includes Iranian actress Negar Javaherian, Bangladeshi writer/director Mostofa Sarwar Farooki, Beijing Film Academy professor, Zhang Xianmin, Malaysian writer/director, U-Wei Bin Haji Saari, and Russian writer/director Alexei Popogrebsky.

All winners will be announced at the 9th APSA ceremony on Thursday 26 November at City Hall, Brisbane.

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