A look back at the inaugural Brisbane Asia Pacific Film Festival (BAPFF): 29 November – 14 December 2014

84 feature films and 17 shorts hit Brisbane screens across six locations for a 16-day celebration of vibrant Asia Pacific cinema. The festival programmed one world, 37 Australian and 46 Queensland premieres. 

The newly focused Asia Pacific film festival also screened 20 nominated films from the 8th annual Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSAs) with sessions introduced by guest filmmakers in Brisbane to attend the APSA ceremony on 11 December in the historic Brisbane City Hall.

Program streams included A Matter of Form; Our Role our Passion: Women in Film; Documentaries; Focus: Asghar Farhadi retrospective; The Colours of Asia Pacific; Film, Art and Dialog; Restored Classics; Youth Cinema; Midnight Ride and Animation.

Three community activities occurred during the festival: Movies on the Green featuring films from Taiwan; Family Night Out featuring the Queensland Premiere of the Australian family hit Paper Planes presented by The Courier-Mail; and satellite BAPFF screenings in partnership with Sunnybank Hoyts.

World Movies Secret Cinema made its highly anticipated debut at the inaugural BAPFF with four nights from 11-14 December. World Movies Secret Cinema took movie-goers to the Brisbane Tramway Museum, transporting them into an unusual world in the most unlikely of places. A mystery Brisbane location was transformed into an immersive and dramatic 1920s cinematic experience.

The festival was officially opened by Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk with the Australian premiere screening of The Crow’s Egg (India), fresh from its world premiere screening at the Toronto International Film Festival.

High-profile Chinese film Coming Home, by world-acclaimed Chinese Fifth Generation auteur Zhang Yimou, closed the festival.

There were eight sell-out sessions, including 2014 APSA and Cannes Palme d’or winner Winter Sleep (directed by award-winning Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan), the American documentary on the towering intellectual Regarding Susan Sontag, Iranian drama piece Melbourne, and three sessions of New Zealand indigenous fantasy adventure The Dead Lands.

Other festival highlights included BAPFF’s cross platform centrepiece Crossroads of Youth, presented in partnership with the Korean Film Archive in celebration of its 40th anniversary; an internationally curated shorts programme of award-winning animations by specialist Otto Alder, the Australian premieres of Karlovy Vary winner Corn Island and Locarno winner From What is Before, screenings of Berlinale Golden Bear winner Black Coal, Thin Ice, and the Golden Globe-nominated drama GETT, The Trial of Viviane Amsalem.

A significant documentary program was curated, with 20 high-profile documentaries scheduled, including the world premiere of Australian documentary William Yang: Blood Links, in which renowned artist William Yang adapted his performance piece into film. The moving 1001 Apples, the 2014 APSA Best Documentary Feature Film winner about the genocidal massacre known as the Anfal Campaign, was also a highlight.

The festival hosted panel discussions and in-conversation events including An Evening with Asghar Farhadi, concluding the retrospective program of his six feature film works. Farhadi, the multi-award-winning Iranian filmmaker, presided over the 8th annual APSA International Jury. Women in Film panel, in association with the Natalie Miller Fellowship, featured international female film practitioners at the height of their powers: Palestinian actress/writer/director Hiam Abbas (APSA International Jury Member), Cannes Palme d’or winner Winter Sleep producer Zeynep Özbatur Atakan and Chinese producer of 2014 Berlin Golden Bear winner Black Coal, Thin Ice, Vivian Qu. Industry practitioner and filmmaker Kerry Gardner moderated the panel.

Two screen industry events were held – When Technology Meets Art and the Walkley Documentary Award Showcase. In association with the Walkley Foundation for Journalism, Linc Energy and APSA, the Walkley Documentary Award Showcase was held at the State Library of Queensland featuring a discussion with the three Australian documentary finalists in the Walkley Awards for Journalism.

When Technology Meets Art, held at the Griffith Film School Cinema on the occasion of the 1st Pan-Pacific Animation industry and Education Summit, saw Professor Sun Lijun, Vice President of the Beijing Film Academy and previous Head of the Animation Department, visit Brisbane to discuss the relationship between art and technology in contemporary animation production. He was joined by visiting representatives from Asia Pacific.

The festival took place in the heart of Brisbane’s cultural precinct:  The Australian Cinémathèque, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Melbourne Street Green, Queensland Performing Arts Centre, The Courier-Mail Piazza, State Library of Queensland, Palace Barracks Cinemas, and Sunnybank Hoyts Cinema.

BAPFF thanks all partners and sponsors, and everyone who supported this new screen culture event for Brisbane. The festival will be back in November 2015 so make sure you keep an eye out for date announcements and a new, exciting program celebrating the power and breadth of Asia Pacific cinema.