The Brisbane City Council and its offshoot Brisbane Marketing have notified the organizers that they will not be able to fund the event in the next financial year, which runs July to June, due to the impact of the coronavirus on the city’s finances. That means limbo for the 14th edition, which had been scheduled for Nov. 26, 2020 at the Brisbane Conventions & Exhibitions Centre.
“Considering the challenges to the film industry and the city’s position, the APSA advisory board and Brisbane Marketing have had to make the difficult decision to place APSA on hold for the time being, as we consider what is possible to deliver in 2020, and as we seek a new home for the event,” Michael Hawkins, APSA chairman, told Variety.
“Films currently entered in or invited to competition will hold their “In Competition” status and will be reviewed when the competition resumes. This meets APSA’s aim of promoting Asia Pacific stories to reach a wider audience, through the recognized ‘In Competition’ brand and laurels.”
The event has been held since 2007 and is currently organized in partnership with UNESCO and FIAPF-International Federation of Film Producers Associations. The early editions were held in Gold Coast, also in Queensland. It moved to Brisbane in 2012, and from 2013 became an initiative of Brisbane City Council.
The APSAs involve a core award ceremony, but have expanded to include a forum and a growing academy body made up of key personnel from past winning films. The Motion Picture Association has also partnered with the event to create $100,000 of bursaries which go toward projects being hatched by APSA Academy members.
The bursaries are announced at the red carpet event, and are likely to continue. Details of the submissions process will be announced shortly.
“We will put our focus on our Academy, industry and audience development programs and provide virtual platforms to enable a slimmed-down virtual Asia Pacific Screen Forum and partner with festivals and events to program APSA Academy member’s films. And we are exploring possibilities to award and acclaim films in some categories in 2020 – all in discussion and hope to be able to announce something soon. It might be an APSA-lite edition in 2020,” said Hawkins.
“During this time, members of the advisory board, including myself, founding chair Des Power, and APSA lead Jaclyn McLendon, will be seeking to innovate and bring APSA back to full strength in 2021.”
While Brisbane is not unique in feeling the financial impact of the coronavirus, and recent stay-at-home measures, defunding the APSAs represents a U-turn from the city’s promises as recently as last year.
Brisbane lord mayor Adrian Schrinner then committed to locking in the APSAs for the long-term. “We want Brisbane to continue to have a growing and thriving film industry, but to have these international awards right here in Brisbane is something incredibly important for our city,” he said in November 2019. “Major events such as the Asia Pacific Screen Awards contribute $150 million into Brisbane’s economy and create thousands of local jobs for Queenslanders.”
APSA uses a UNESCO definition of Asia, which stretches from the Asia-Pacific to the Mediterranean and includes much of the Middle East and Central Asia. The logistics of the APSA week events do not involve large numbers of screenings or audiences to be held in Brisbane, but they do involve several dozen overseas prize nominees and jury members to travel from overseas.
Last year the best film winner was Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite,” which had debuted at Cannes and went on to win best picture at the Oscars.ENDS