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Russell Crowe will head up the jury for the inaugural best Asian film award that will be handed out by the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts at its annual awards ceremony in Sydney this December.
The new award, unveiled at the Shanghai International Film Festival on Wednesday and recognizing “excellence in filmmaking throughout the Asian region,” will be the cornerstone of AACTA’s new Asia International Engagement program that “aims to foster the burgeoning relationship between the film industries of Australia and its closest Asian neighbors,” AACTA CEO Damian Trewhella said.
Crowe will be joined by a panel of eight jurors, including Chinese director, screenwriter and producer Lu Chuan (Born in China), South Korean writer, director and producer Kim Ki-Duk (Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter…and Spring), Indian actor Anupam Kher (Silver Linings Playbook), five-time National Film Award of India best actress winner Shabana Azmi, Golden Rooster award-winning Chinese actor Ye Liu, producer Gary Kurtz (The Dark Crystal), British producer and distributor of Japanese and South Korean films and managing director of Third Window Films Adam Torel and Australian film critic Margaret Pomeranz.
Films from 19 countries across the region, including China, India, South Korea and Japan, will be eligible to compete.
“As the Asian screen industry continues to grow and the traditional borders to content distribution are breaking down, audiences across the world are discovering what other regions have to offer,” Trewhella said. “There is strong audience demand for Asian cinema in Australia and an increase in co-productions between Western and Asian filmmakers. We want to continue to make more cultural and film industry connections between filmmakers and audiences in those 19 countries.”
“This is a moment to build that cultural process and provide a bridge. Students that are entering film schools now are much more diverse and want to tell different stories to those who were at film school in the 1990’s. Building relationships is critical,” added Rachel Griffiths who launched the program alongside actor Sam Neill in Shanghai.
A series of forums in Australia and across Asia will aim to “champion the skills and achievements of Asian filmmakers to audiences and the industry in Australia, but will also promote Australia’s highly skilled screen practitioners to the booming industries of Asia,” Trewhella added.
Australia currently has official co-production treaties with China and South Korea and is negotiating treaties with India and Malaysia. Guardians of the Tomb, starring Li Bing Bing, Kellan Lutz and Kelsey Grammar, is the latest official Australian-Chinese co-production to be made.
Brisbane hosts the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, which are held in November each year. AACTA will continue with its international film awards, which are handed out in Los Angeles each January.
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