The Brisbane Asia Pacific Film Festival is to be halted and replaced with other events, some allied to the Asia Pacific Screen Awards. It had existed three years in its current form.
“A decision has been taken to discontinue the standalone film festival format of BAPFF and focus on a more accessible, year-round APSA screening program. APSA screenings and events will be held at festivals similar to the recent BrisAsia Festival and in partnership with like-minded events throughout the year,” Brisbane Marketing said in an email Thursday. “A number of screenings and industry events are also being planned for the ceremony week of the APSAs.”
Brisbane Marketing, part of the Brisbane City Council, explained: “This step is being undertaken to strengthen APSA as the Asia Pacific region’s leading film competition, academy, ceremony and screening program that recognizes and promotes the cinematic excellence and cultural diversity of the vast region.”
The BAPFF was set up in 2014 and replaced the Brisbane International Film Festival, which ran for 22 editions from 1992. That earlier move was similarly explained as connecting festival and awards ceremony, and supporting the APSAs.
It was opposed in some quarters as a triumph of marketing and investment interests over film culture relevant to the city’s audience and filmmakers. Former BIFF chief Richard Moore was especially critical. Calling it retrograde and short-sighted, Moore described the BIFF closure as: “a tacky move by Screen Queensland, and a mortal blow to Brisbane’s film community and cinephiles alike.”
Michael Hawkins executive chairman of APSA, says that the current moves reflect confusion between the brands. “At first, (holding the two simultaneously) seemed such a great idea – APSA having an international face and BAPFF being the local engagement. But as time progressed, the two became confused and somewhat melded. APSA started as, and was intended to be, a stand-alone awards ceremony, quite unique in the region,” Hawkins told Variety.
“We have now taken the screenings of the APSA films out of a once-a-year event, and will make them more accessible by having curated programs crafted for other established events and festivals that are consistent with the geographic region we seek to represent. Added to food, fashion, music and other forms of entertainment, I am confident we will deliver a superior product for the enjoyment of all. A great example is a screening we did of a Japanese film in conjunction with the BrisAsia Festival – 2,500 people attended an outdoor screening.
“We will maintain the four day APSA program, during which we will curate a special program around visiting film makers, be they nominees or APSA jurors, and whether new features or documentaries, or retrospective streams. So far from being for the cultural elite, the APSA Screenings will be more accessible for all, and in conjunction with a great many varied and related activities.”
In a written response sent to Variety, Screen Queensland CEO, Tracey Viera said: “Screen Queensland funded BAPFF through the Screen Culture Funding program. In 2015-16, the Screen Culture program provided funding of more than $1 million to 32 festivals across Queensland; nine of these, including BAPFF, were in Brisbane. Screen Queensland looks forward to working with APSA on future programs.”