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Filipino film 'Himala' wins CNN APSA Viewers Choice Award

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  • Filipino film, "Himala" wins CNN Asia Pacific Screen Awards Viewers Choice Award
  • Ishmael Bernal's film beat Akira Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai" to the top prize
  • CNN "The Screening Room's" presenter Myleene Klass awarded the accolade
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By CNN's Mairi Mackay
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Filipino film "Himala" has been awarded the CNN APSA Viewers Choice Award for Best Asia-Pacific Film of all Time.

"The Screening Room" presenter Myleene Klass arrives at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards in Queensland, Australia.

Thousands of CNN viewers voted on "The Screening Room" Web site to honor Ishmael Bernal's 1982 film with the accolade, which is jointly awarded by CNN and the region's prestigious Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA).

"The Screening Room's" Myleene Klass presented the award Tuesday in front of a crowd of over 700 film industry figures at a special ceremony on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.

Bernal's austere tale of a young woman who goes on a healing crusade after seeing a vision of the Virgin Mary, which stars Filipino actress Nora Aunor, took the prize with 32 percent of the vote.

It came in ahead of ahead of more widely known films like Japanese Akira Kurosawa's "Shichinin no samurai" ("Seven Samurai"), which took second place and "Wo hu cang long" ("Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon") by Taiwan's Ang Lee, which snared third.

Other films in the shortlist included Chan-wook Park's "Oldboy" from South Korea and Japanese animation master Hayao Miyazaki's animated film "Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi" ("Spirited Away").

"Whatever the reason, I do feel we deserve this award," said "Himala" producer Bibsy Carballo, "If only as a tribute to our people who in once a great while decide to come together as one, forget their petty squabbles and divisiveness, and make a declaration of support for this troubled nation, and its tremendously talented and good-hearted if unfortunate population. Long live 'Himala!'"

When it was first released in 1982, "Himala" was picked for the official selection at Berlin International Film Festival, as well as a number of other festivals, and Nora Aunor was nominated for Best Actress.

A total of 32 films representing 17 countries from Kazakhstan to Korea and the Islamic Republic of Iran to India were finalists at this year's Asia Pacific Screen Awards.

Kazakh picture "Tulpan," by director Sergei Dvortsevoy, which tells the story of a family of sheep and goat herders, took home the main feature prize.

Other winners included Israeli director Ari Folman's animated feature "Waltz with Bashir," which took Best Animated Feature. Best Documentary was given to South Korea's "63 Years On" by Dong-won Kim and Achievement in Directing was awarded to Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan for "Üç maymun" ("Three Monkeys").

The 2008 APSA International jury which presided over the shortlisted films was led by veteran Australian director, Bruce Beresford known for films like "Driving Miss Daisy."

Asia Pacific Screen Awards Chairman Des Power said: "There is a growing fascination and respect for films from this diverse region.

"It is a tribute to the filmmakers that they now have a globally recognised award and the broadcast reach of CNN International to promote their work."

Watch "The Screening Room's" Asia Pacific Screen Awards show at the following times: Wednesday 26 November: 0930, 1830, Saturday 29 November: 0830, 1900, Sunday 30 November: 1730, 1830, Monday 1 December: 0400 (all times GMT)

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