Australia introduces Asia-Pacific awards


SYDNEY -- A new awards event to honor Asia-Pacific filmmakers was unveiled Tuesday by Queensland, Australia's second-largest state, with partners CNN International and the International Federation of Film Producer Assns. The event also has an endorsement from the United Nations agency UNESCO.

The inaugural Asia Pacific Screen Awards will take place Nov. 13 on Queensland's Gold Coast, with awards given across 11 categories. Films from 70 countries will compete, including entries from Turkey, Russia, Australia, New Zealand and Samoa.

Designed to "celebrate at a global level the cinematic excellence and cultural diversity of the vast Asia-Pacific region," Queensland premier Peter Beattie said the APSA will "form a hub for the film industry in this part of the world."

The government will bankroll the awards through its Queensland Events Corp., which aims to develop the awards into an event with the prestige and glamour of the European Film Awards or the Academy Awards.

"Asia-Pacific is a region that produces almost half of the films made in the world, yet it does not have an award that is recognized in the way of the Academy Awards, Golden Globes or European Film Awards," he said. "Queensland is proud to play a role, along with CNN International, UNESCO and the International Federation of Film Producers, in helping to bring this initiative about."

"The Australian film industry will also benefit greatly from the international exposure this initiative will bring and the relationships that will develop between the filmmakers of the region," Beattie added.

It also will provide a front end to the annual Screen Producers Association of Australia Conference in November, which is followed by the Australian people's choice film awards, the IF (Inside Film) Awards.

Further details of the event -- including the categories, nominations format, judging and the naming of the jury president -- will be unveiled at May's Festival de Cannes.

CNN International will co-produce the ceremony as well as produce and broadcast two TV specials.

The APSA came to fruition after three years in development and more than 100 meetings with filmmakers, festivals and film organizations in the region.