Wednesday, 21 October 2015•
The Griffith Film School (GFS), the Asia Pacific Screen Academy and NETPAC (Network for the Promotion of Asia Pacific Cinema) are pleased to announce the winning projects for the latest round of the Asia Pacific Screen Lab.
Iraqi filmmaker Mohanad Hayal was selected to develop his feature film Haifi Street about the sniper of Haifi Street who kills Ahmed on his wedding day and prevents anyone from reaching the Ahmed’s body, and Australian/Vietnamese filmmaker Jakeb Anhvu’s film A Hundred Years of Happiness that tells two women’s stories of two different journeys fuelled by similar family obligations. One woman escapes with her son to find a safer future, while the other embarks on an arranged marriage across international and cultural borders.
Each filmmaker will be paired with an APSA Academy member and guided through a year-long mentorship which includes development workshops in writing, directing, producing and pitching, and a residency with their mentor. The APSA Academy mentors paired with each project will be announced during the events of the 9th Asia Pacific Screen Awards in November.
Twenty-four early-career filmmakers submitted applications this year of the APSL from 11 countries: Philippines, Indonesia, Russian Federation, Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, People’s Republic of China, Bangladesh, Iraq, Australia, and Republic of Korea. Applicants represented a broad spectrum of genres, and formats from documentaries to new media, and fiction feature films spanning all genres.
The APSL is an initiative of NETPAC overseen by NETPAC members Philip Cheah (Vice-President), Park Ki-yong and Herman Van Eyken and hosted and administered by the Griffith Film School, Griffith University Brisbane in collaboration with the APSA Academy, Screen Queensland, the Asia-Europe Foundation and the Sun Foundation.
Founder of the Busan International Film Festival and Dean of Dankook Graduate School of Cinematic Content, KIM Dong-Ho stated at the World Film Institutions Forum, with 35 of the most respected film school heads in attendance to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the Beijing Film Academy (BFA), that “Co-production is not only about financing and expanding the market, but also about making synergies in creativity. We can find much more interesting stories if we escape our own little pond and move to the big lake, river and oceans.”
Head of the Griffith Film School, Herman Van Eyken said “What stood out this year was the number of higher profile and experienced filmmakers that had submitted projects for consideration. I see this as a indicator that the Lab, even after only 1 year, has a strong backing and voice within the Asia Pacific region.”
“This year’s selection mirrors filmmakers’ concerns about conflict zones – from the war in Baghdad to the political and economic issues that result in refugee migrants taking great risks for a brighter future.”
APSA Academy President Jack Thompson AM said “The Asia Pacific Screen Lab is crucial to the development of stories from the vast Asia Pacific region, and an exciting extension of the role of the APSA Academy as we use the expert creative knowledge to mentor and accelerate new and talented voices.”
NETPAC Vice President Philip Cheah said “It’s been exciting to see the projects that were chosen last year develop and change as the filmmakers have worked with their mentors. This is the reason for the Lab, and I have no doubt that these projects will equally benefit from the experience.”
Park Ki-Yong, renowned filmmaker and respected academic from Republic of Korea said “There were so many good projects to select from this year, and it took the panel longer this year to make the selection, but we are happy with the selected projects. Both projects address relevant topics in society at present – the conflict in the Middle East and Refugees – both important stories that need to be told.”
Executive Chairman of the Asia Pacific Screen Awards and its Academy, Mr Michael Hawkins states “The Asia Pacific Screen Lab is a wonderful initiative, and APSA is proud to be involved with strategies that bring benefit to Academy members, and develop new talent in Asia Pacific.”
The Lab’s program incubator and accelerator workshops, master classes, script clinics and other development activities will be scheduled in conjunction with existing initiatives in the region, and created specifically for the APSL and include:
* Script workshop with European story development expert, Jan Fleischer, who was the long-time head of screenwriting at the UK’s National Film and Television School.
* A directorial workshop by US experts including the world famous performance expert Mark Travis who is an advisor at Amsterdam’s prestigious Binger Filmlab, and prolific and award-winning director Gil Bettman.
* workshop opportunity with auteur-style writer-director-producers such as Marion Hansel, who is also a pitch expert involved in Torino Film Lab.
* Producer workshop entirely focused on development, financing, production and delivery from Ben Gibson, formerly from the London Film School and AFTRS.
* Artist in Residency at Temenggong in Singapore.
The Lab is an important development vehicle to enable film co-production across the 70 countries and areas of Asia Pacific. This will accelerate global export of Asia Pacific creative screen content and creative products and strengthen its creative entrepreneur’s capacity for success.
More information can be found at www.griffith.edu.au/filmschool
FURTHER INFORMATION ABOUT THE 2nd ASIA PACIFIC SCREEN LAB RECIPIENTS
Mohanad Hayal from Iraq Fiction Feature Film
Synopsis: 2006. Baghdad is ravaged by sectarian violence and Haifa Street is the bloody epicentre of the conflict: Masked gunmen and snipers reign supreme, taking out lives in broad daylight for reasons and political allegiances that are unclear…
Ahmed, a man with a camcorder and a cake, gets dropped off at the edge of Haifa Street by a taxi. On his way to his beloved Suaad’s house to ask her for her hand in marriage, Ahmed gets shot in the chest by Tariq – an anxious young sniper who’s planted on a rooftop living his own personal hell.
Tariq prevents anyone from getting near Ahmed’s body with the threat of gunfire. Suaad attempts to collect his body several times, to no avail. Her adult children Salam, a hard-line, religious extremist sympathizer, and Nadia, a carefree young woman with personal ambitions, are caught between their own demons and their single mother’s desire to fetch her lover’s body. Harsh truths become exposed as the day unfolds. When Nadia elicits the help of their cunning madam neighbour Dalal, the complicity of many residents of the neighbourhood becomes apparent. Dalal’s partner Abu Muthana, the patriarch of the street and the leader of Tariq’s militia group, tries to take matters into his own hands to retrieve Ahmed’s body – and everything spirals out of control. The question remains: Who exactly is Ahmed and why is Tariq hell-bent on preventing anyone from collecting his body?
“Haifa Street” is a brutal exploration of the cycle of violence that war creates in communities and people’s hearts. The film revolves around the ten minutes following Ahmed’s shooting, presented in an unusual cyclical structure that explores the story from different perspectives on the street. “Haifa Street” is a new Iraqi suspense/thriller that exposes the ugliness of war without reservation.
Jakeb Anhvu from Australia Documentary Feature Film
Synopsis: Two different journeys fuelled by similar family obligations leads one to escape with her son to find a safer future, while the other embarks on an arranged marriage across international and cultural borders.