by Cynthia Webb, Gold Coast, QLD, Australia
Great news has been announced on 26th July 2021, concerning the future of the Asia Pacific Screen Awards. After a quite long and worrisome period with the future of APSA in doubt after Brisbane City Council decided its budget would no longer include this prestigious international cinema awards event, City of Gold Coast, (the location of APSA’s first five years), has now called this prestige event back home.
There will be the third Asia Pacific Screen Forum, from 11th to the 16th November, and the Presentation of the Awards for this year’s full competition, will be on the 11th November, and will be live streamed to the world. There was no competition last year because of Covid-19 pandemic, so this is the 14th APSA event. The inaugural APSA Ceremony was in 2007 at City of Gold Coast, and since then the APSA Academy has grown to around 1,200 members, including some of the world’s greatest names of cinema.
The announcement was made at the outdoor theatre of The Home of the Arts, (HOTA). It is Gold Coast’s Arts Centre which includes a state of the art theatre for stage and screen events, and two art house cinemas, a recently opened five floor art gallery, bar, shop and café, and an outdoor stage with ‘bowl’ style grass seating. It is a great venue and since back before the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast City Council has been assuring us that they are concentrating on building the Arts and Culture side of this city, already famed for outdoor life beach life, sun and surf.
On a sunny Monday morning, the announcement was made to a gathering of local media people. The Chair of APSA, Ms Tracey Viera spoke of the amazing diversity of the Asia Pacific region and how the cinema of that region reflects that diversity, and can teach audiences so much about other cultures.
Two internationally successful actors were present, David Wenham of Australia, and Cliff Curtis of New Zealand. Both are currently at Gold Coast working. Both have attended previous APSA Ceremonies, and Cliff Curtis won the Best Actor Award in 2014 for his role in “The Dark Horse”.
Mr Wenham said that he has attended film events and awards ceremonies all over the world, and called APSA the “most exciting” because of the diversity of fascinating cultures included in the region of the Asia Pacific. He was also most impressed by the spirit of camaraderie amongst the visiting film-makers, supporting one another and taking opportunities to support each other and collaborate any way possible.
The Asia-Pacific region includes 70 countries and areas, and has 4.5 billion people, and creates half of the world’s film output. The three countries producing the most film and television are India, South Korea, and Turkey, all in Asia. This is according to the author Fatima Bhutto’s book “New Kings of the World”, about this subject.
APSA has been the first stepping stone along the way to international fame and renown for quite a few directors over the last 15 years, the most obvious being Iran’s Asghar Farhadi now often referred to as a “maestro of world cinema”. Recognition at APSA has assisted many films to gain wider distribution too.
David Wenham praised the Gold Coast and its superb winter weather, the many and varied shooting locations close by, and the Village Roadshow/Warner Bros complex of sound-stages, complete with one of the world’s quite uncommonly found large water tanks for shooting scenes at sea… (e.g. A “Pirates of the Caribbean” film was made there).
Mr Wenham said that Baz Luhrmann had recently told him that he thought it was one of the very best places in the world to shoot a film.
There are around three or four films underway at Gold Coast right now, and it’s difficult to find crews, Ms Tracey Viera added. There are job opportunities right now, including chances to begin a career as a crew member, she said.
The Mayor of City of Gold Coast, Mr Tom Tate, mentioned that bringing APSA back to the city, is part of an ongoing plan to expand the local economy, and mentioned a possibility of more infra structure for film production – perhaps another Film Studio complex in future. He will encourage the State Government and private enterprise to contribute to this future development of our film-making facilities.
Cliff Curtis called the film studios we already have here “phenomenal” saying he wished there was such a studio complex in New Zealand. He also praised the Gold Coast as a safe location in the time of COVID-19. He has recently done some research about Queensland’s response to controlling the pandemic, and he found that our State has an even better record of success and a lower number of cases and deaths, than New Zealand. He said according to his research Queensland is about the size of both islands of his homeland across the Tasman Sea. So on the grounds of this research, Cliff Curtis has brought his wife and ‘some of the children’ over to live at Gold Coast with him while he’s working on the new film, and they can escape the coldest months of the New Zealand winter here. We all know that New Zealand is world famous for the prompt and efficient way they minimized their exposure to the pandemic.
This is Cliff’s ‘vote of confidence in Queensland and City of Gold Coast.
City of Gold Coast has cast a big vote of confidence in world cinema and in one of our most important local industries – film-making.