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AACTA Celebrates 2nd Year of Asia International Engagement Program in Shanghai

A year after the historic launch of the Asia International Engagement Program in June 2017, AACTA returned to Shanghai to present an exciting Event Series, including: the Academy’s first-ever masterclass in China, Animal Logic: Reimaging Story Through Animation and VFX; an insightful China-India film and cultural exchange panel and discussion; and a cocktail event to mark the launch of the 2018 Program.

At the cocktail event, AACTA announced several of the films in competition for the 2018 AACTA Award for Best Asian Film, as well as a new Presenting Partner for the Award; Eureka International Group (EIG).

“We have been thrilled to see such rapid growth and interest in our Asia International Engagement Program over the past year and this year will only continue to see the program grow,” said AFI | AACTA CEO Damian Trewhella. “This week saw the Academy present our first-ever masterclass in China as well as another successful industry-attended cocktail event promoting positive relationships and collaborations between the Australian and Asian film industries. This is an exciting time of growth for our industries, with some of the world’s highest quality films coming out of Asia and Australia – such as Palme D’Or-winning productions SHOP LIFTERS (Japan) and ALL THESE CREATURES (Australia) as well as box office hits PETER RABBIT (Australia) and OPERATION RED SEA (China) – and we look forward to continuing to encourage, promote and watch our neighbouring industries thrive.” 


Following a sold-out event at Vivid Sydney last year, AACTA’s Animal Logic: Reimagining Story Through Animation and VFX masterclass was the first of the events to take place, as part of the Official Program of Shanghai International Film Festival. Hosted at the Shanghai Film Plaza on Tuesday 19 June, the session explored the creative process behind making films with insights from Animal Logic’s CEO and co-founder Zareh Nalbandian, production designer Grant Freckelton and VFX supervisor Will Reichelt.

The panel showcased a selection of stunning visuals from some of Animal Logic’s most iconic productions, giving the 400 Chinese film students, industry and fans in attendance an exclusive look at the techniques used to create some of cinema’s most memorable scenes, from development to release.

“It has been amazing to watch the Chinese film industry go from strength to strength in scale, diversity and creative ambition, and I see growing opportunities for exciting creative collaborations between Australian and Chinese filmmakers,” said Animal Logic CEO and co-founder Zareh Nalbandian. “Animal Logic’s partnership with great Chinese filmmakers goes back decades and has been the source of some of our most artistic accomplishments. We were honoured to be at the Shanghai International Film Festival to share our history of creative collaborations with some of the world’s greatest filmmakers and to have the opportunity to connect with so many talented film enthusiasts who attended our masterclass.”


AACTA was thrilled to take part in the pioneering China-India Film and Cultural Exchange Panel and Discussion, held on Tuesday 19 June at Shanghai Film Group Sound Stage as part of the Shanghai International Film Festival. The aim of the event was to engage the film industries of China and India in intercultural dialogue and provide a platform to encourage further collaborations in cinema and culture.

The event was hosted by award-winning actress Nadia Hatta, with introductions from AFI | AACTA CEO Damian Trewhella and the Consul General of India, Shanghai, Anil Kumar Rai.

Guest speakers at the event included: Leena Jaisani, Head of Entertainment at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry; Kulmeet Makkar, CEO of the Film and Television Producers Guild of India; award-winning Finnish director Renny Harlin (SKIPTRACE, THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT); Indian directors Advait Chandan (SECRET SUPERSTAR) and Saket Chaudhary (HINDI MEDIUM); Hong Kong director Wai-Keung Lau (INFERNAL AFFAIRS); Chinese actor and director Chen Daming (WHAT WOMEN WANT); Indian producer Daljit DJ Parmar (KUNG FU YOGA); and CEO of Indian television network B4U Ishan Saksena (THREE STORIES).

The panel discussed a broad range of film and cultural exchange topics, from achieving success in the Chinese and Indian film markets, to how China and India can collaborate to make films together, what types of productions travel the best internationally and what success in co-productions and intercultural films looks like.


The AACTA Award for Best Asian Film presented by EIG is the cornerstone of AACTA’s Asia International Engagement Program and acknowledges the finest films of the last twelve months from 19 Asian regions, reflecting the popularity and importance of Asian films in Australia.

The cocktail event was attended by Tony Jaa and Tiger Hu Chen, two of the stars of Chinese action film TRIPLE THREAT, as well as Zhenjian Yang, producer of the upcoming Chinese epic fantasy film ASURA. Both films will be in competition for the 2018 Best Asian Film Award. Also in attendance was Katrina Harrigan, Australian Deputy Consul General, Shanghai.

Among the films from the China region competing for a nomination for this year’s Best Asian Film Award presented by EIG, are:

  • The second all-time highest grossing film in China, action war film OPERATION RED SEA;
  • Chinese-Australian co-produced sci-fi thriller GUARDIANS OF THE TOMB;
  • Award-winning films GIRLS ALWAYS HAPPY and YOUTH;
  • Chinese-Hong Kong adventure film MONSTER HUNT 2, the sequel to the box-office record breaking MONSTER HUNT;
  • Romantic comedy HOW LONG WILL I LOVE U;
  • Sci-fi thriller BATTLE OF MEMORIES; and

Japanese films competing for a nomination will include:

  • This year’s Palme D’Or winner SHOP LIFTERS;
  • Multiple Award-winning drama and Japan’s Oscars® entry HER LOVE BOILS BATHWATER;
  • One of the top performing Japanese films at the Australian box office, MARY AND THE WITCH’S FLOWER;
  • Award-winning film LEGEND OF THE DEMON CAT; and
  • Upcoming animation MIRAI NO MIRAI.

Also in competition are:

  • The second most viewed film in South Korean history, ALONG WITH THE GODS: THE TWO WORLDS, which is also currently the number one South Korean film at the Australian box office;
  • Upcoming South Korean spy drama THE SPY GONE NORTH; and
  • Malaysian action-adventure TOMBIRUO, directed by Australian and past AACTA Award winner Seth Larney.

These films join the previously announced Indian films in competition for the 2018 Best Asian Film Award presented by EIG.


AACTA welcomes new partner EIG


In addition to the Presenting Partnership for the AACTA Award for Best Asian Film, EIG’s sponsorship will also extend to the wider Asia International Engagement Program as well as the annual AACTA Awards in Sydney.

“We are extremely proud to partner with AACTA on their exceptional Asia International Engagement Program during this exciting time of growth for both the Australian and Asian screen industries,” said Eureka International Group Chairman Kelvin Dong. “As the Australian Academy shows the best and brightest of the Asian and Australian film industries to new audiences through their Program, EIG aim to do the same, using our expertise to guide companies, such as Feeling Fruity and UGG Tasman, to successfully expose their products and services globally.”


AACTA would like to thank Franlyn Media, in particular David Zhang and Wilson Liu, and Tony Coombs from Harvest Pictures Group for their incredible support of the 2018 Asia International Engagement Program Event Series in Shanghai.


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