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AACTA opens arms to Asia with new Award

AACTA today announced the launch of the Asia International Engagement Program at a star-studded event in Shanghai, China. The foundation of which will be the introduction of the AACTA Award for Best Asian Film, recognising excellence in filmmaking throughout the Asian region.

AFI and AACTA Award-winning actors Sam Neill (HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE, THE DAUGHTER, JURASSIC PARK, SWEET COUNTRY) and Rachel Griffiths (HACKSAW RIDGE, SAVING MR BANKS, and director of upcoming Michelle Payne biopic RIDE LIKE A GIRL) announced the Program in China at a special event as part of Shanghai International Film Festival. Among those who joined Neill and Griffiths at the exclusive event were: AACTA Best Asian Film Grand Jury member and Golden Rooster Awardwinning Chinese director, screenwriter and producer Lu Chuan; Chinese actor William Feng; DNSW Regional Manager China Nathan Pei; and Australian Consul General in Shanghai, Graeme Meehan.

The AACTA Asia International Engagement Program aims to foster the burgeoning relationship between the film industries of Australia and its closest Asian neighbours. The Program will not only champion the skills and achievements of Asian filmmakers to audiences and industry in Australia, but will also promote Australia’s highly skilled screen practitioners to the booming industries of Asia, developing meaningful pathways for collaborations between Australia and the Asian region.

The inaugural AACTA Award for Best Asian Film, the cornerstone of the Program, reflects the popularity and importance of Asian films in Australia. The growing Chinese and Indian diaspora have had a substantial impact on Australian box office and cinema trends, and films from these thriving filmmaking nations, along with those from the esteemed industries of South Korea, Japan and 15 other countries in the region, will now be honoured and celebrated, alongside Australia’s best and brightest, to an increasingly diverse Australian audience. The Best Asian Film Award, presented at the 2017 AACTA Awards Ceremony presented by Foxtel on Wednesday 6 December 2017 at The Star Event Centre in Sydney, will acknowledge the finest Asian films of the last 12 months.

“As the Asian screen industry continues to grow and the traditional borders to content distribution are breaking down, audiences across the world are discovering what other regions have to offer,” said AFI | AACTA CEO Damian Trewhella. “There is strong audience demand for Asian cinema in Australia and an increase in co-productions between Western and Asian filmmakers. Our Program seeks to bring the best and the brightest from both regions to new audiences.”

A Grand Jury of highly regarded film industry leaders from around the world will determine the recipient of the Best Asian Film Award. Oscar® and multiple AFI | AACTA Award-winning Actor Russell Crowe (THE MUMMY, GLADIATOR, LES MISERABLES, THE WATER DIVINER) will act as the President of the Best Asian Film Grand Jury.

Crowe will be joined a panel of eight jurors, including: Chinese director, screenwriter and producer Lu Chuan (BORN IN CHINA, CHRONICLES OF THE GHOSTLY TRIBE); acclaimed South Korean writer, director and producer Kim Ki-Duk (SPRING, SUMMER, AUTUMN, WINTER…AND SPRING, 3-IRON, PIETA); five-time National Film Award of India Best Actress winner Shabana Azmi (NEERJA, THE BLACK PRINCE, ARTH); Golden Rooster Award-winning Chinese actor Ye Liu (THE FOLIAGE, DARK MATTER, BLOOD BROTHERS); Oscar®-nominated producer Gary Kurtz (THE DARK CRYSTAL, STAR WARS: EPISODE V – THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, STAR WARS: EPISODE IV – A NEW HOPE); British producer and distributor of Japanese and South Korean films, and Managing Director of Third Window Films Adam Torel (THE LAND OF HOPE, LOWLIFE LOVE); Australian film critic, producer and presenter Margaret Pomeranz AM (THE MOVIE SHOW, AT THE MOVIES); and prolific Indian actor Anupam Kher (SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM, A WEDNESDAY!).

AACTA will also develop a range of film forums in Australia and regionally as part of the Asia International Engagement Program. These forums present a significant opportunity to share knowledge and foster cultural understanding, allowing for greater harmony and engagement between the Australian and Asian screen industries and audiences, including the continually-evolving diaspora of Asian communities living in Australia and becoming active in our local industry.

The Asia International Engagement Program is being undertaken by AACTA in partnership with PR Asia. “As the achievements and potential of Asian media industries continue to grow and evolve, PR Asia is extremely proud to be partnering with the Australian Academy on the new AACTA Asia International Engagement Program,” said Co-Founder and Vice President of PR Asia Amy Xu.

Further information on the Asia International Engagement Program, the AACTA Award for Best Asian Film and the Best Asian Film Grand Jury can be found here.

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