Asian Film Awards Academy Seeks Long-Term Expansion

Awards organizers to invite other festivals, add industry development role.

Asain Film Awards Academy founder members
Patrick Frater

The newly created Asian Film Awards Academy will seek wide-ranging educational and audience development roles and will invite other film festivals to become members.

That expansionist course was outlined March 23 in Hong Kong by Wilfred Wong, chairman of the Hong Kong Intl. Film Festival Society (HKIFFS), and a co-founder of the new AFA Academy.

The AFA Academy is an initiative involving a trio of of Asia’s most established festivals, Hong Kong, Busan and Tokyo. The Academy recently replaced Wong’s HKIFFS as the sole backer of the eight-year-old Asian Film Awards, after the Hong Kong government withdrew its financial support for the awards show.

The show will now relocate and, for the next three years, take up residence in Macau. Awards will be announced March 27 at a ceremony in the City of Dreams casino resort.

The three festival heads see the organizational revamp as a platform for loftier things than a red carpet pageant. “It started out as Asia’s answer to the Oscars,” Wong (pictured, center) said. He was joined on stage by Yasushi Shiina of Tokyo (pictured, left) and Lee Yong-kwan from Busan (pictured, right).

“The idea is to invite more film festivals from Asia to join us at a later stage. When the framework is done, when the vision and mission is set, we will start to invite others,” said Wong. “India will certainly be on the list. They are very productive and their production quality has improved so much in recent years.”

Wong said that the involvement of more film festivals in the AFAs need not change the nature of the awards.

“The judging criteria will evolve with time,” he said. “But the same principle of a film being screened in (commercial) Asian cinemas in the year (in order to be eligible for AFA nomination) will not change,” Wong said. “If an art film is shown in Asian cinemas it will be eligible.”

We will try to help young Asian talents by providing mentorship, information and knowledge and second we provide them with exposure. Third, we will try and help nurture audiences by promoting Asian cinema around the world, and by promoting Asian talent around the world,” Wong said.

“We are at the planning stage, but already have three major festivals as platforms we can make use of. At each of the HK, Busan and Tokyo festivals the AFA Academy can make use of those opportunities to promote Asian cinema. And we will look at going to other festivals to promote Asian cinema.

“We want to create a professional body that the Asian film industry can identify with. We want people to say they are part of the Asian film industry,” he said.