BRISBANE — Motion Picture Assn. of America topper Chris Dodd threw his weight behind the Asia Pacific biz, and the fledgling MPA APSA Academy Film Fund, which the U.S. film org launched last year in conjunction with the Asia-Pacific Screen Awards.

Speaking in Brisbane at the keynote address for the kudos, which take place on Thursday night, Dodd said Hollywood continues to embrace the Asia-Pacific region and that the partnerships in the regional “are blossoming,” citing Chinese co-prods “the Karate Kid” and kids pic “The Dragon Pearl” as examples.

“The MPA APSA fund serves as an incubator for the industry by supporting development of new films,” he added. “As the new head of the MPA I want to tell you here this morning very directly that as long as I chair the Motion Picture Association of America that partnership will continue.”

He added, alluding to the recent Down Under trip by U.S. President Barack Obama, “To paraphrase a fellow American who was here just the other day, with respect to the film industry and the Asia-Pacific region, ‘we are here to stay’.”

The MPA APSA fund was set up in 2010 with four separate development grants adding up to $A100,000 ($97,520), and it got off to a boffo start. The first completed film, Asghar Farhadi’s “Jodaeiye Nader az Simin” (A Separation), won the Golden Bear kudo at the 2011 Berlinale, as well as best actress and actor awards at the fest, and went on to win the Sydney Film Prize at this year’s Sydney Film Festival.

Dodd also took the opportunity to take a swipe at the region’s pirates.

“Our industry is also facing new challenges,” he said. “Among the most imposing of them is the persistent, pernicious and widening threat of content theft.”

While recognizing that the APSAs should be a time to celebrate the creative side of the industry, he warned, “This region’s film industry cannot grow when its first promising fruits are stolen.”

The Asia-Pacific Screen Awards, which are in their fifth year, take place on Nov. 24 on the Gold Coast. The new recipients of the MPA APSA Screen Academy fund will also be announced.