The Rights Stuff


MPA APSA Academy Film Fund launches 9th round funding for Asia Pacific Stories as three completed fund films announced in Cannes Official Competition

by MPAA — 20.04.2018



BEIJING/SINGAPORE – On April 19, the Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA) and its Academy, and the Motion Picture Association (MPA), announced the 2018 MPA APSA Academy Film Fund open for submissions. The announcement, made from the Beijing International Film Festival with representatives from both organisations in attendance, comes as three completed MPA APSA Academy Film Fund projects were confirmed for the Cannes Film Festival Official Competition.


The three world premieres are the first MPA APSA Academy Fund projects to screen at Cannes. Turkish producer and 2012 MPA APSA Film Fund recipient Zeynep OĢˆzbatur Atakan (Wintersleep) will unveil her completed projectThe Wild Pear Tree (Ahlat Agaci), written and directed by her long-time collaborator and Cannes veteran Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Korean auteur Lee Chang Dong (Secret Sunshine, Poetry) will premiere his highly anticipated featureBurning, based on the short story ‘Barn Burning’ by Haruki Murakami, that was first published in The New Yorker, and Sergey Dvortsevoy (Tulpan) will present his film Ayka (My Little One). Both Dvortsevoy and Lee were recipients of the Fund in 2010, its inaugural year, and mark a major milestone for the fund as all projects from that year are now completed.


Mike Ellis, President and Managing Director, Asia Pacific, MPA, said, “News of three Film Fund-supported films to screen in competition in Cannes is a terrific endorsement for this initiative that has witnessed so much critical success since its inception in 2010. We applaud the work of the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, and our talented MPA APSA Academy Film Fund selection panelists who had the skill and vision to identify these film projects as worthy of support at the early stage of development.”

MPA APSA Academy Film Fund recipient for her film Nene, Georgian writer/director Mariam Khatchvani, said from Beijing, “Thanks to the MPA APSA Academy Film Fund, I am now developing my second feature film Nene, based on a personal true story, and I have also been selected for the Cannes Cinéfondation to develop the project. I did not think that I had a chance to be a grant recipient because of all of the big names in the Academy and the competition. It is the best possible start for the project and I am so grateful to the MPA and APSA, an opportunity like this means so much and can make such a difference to young debut directors.”


Chair of the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, and its Academy, Michael Hawkins, said, “The Asia Pacific Screen Awards and its well-established Academy of the region’s leading filmmakers are extremely grateful to its collaborative partner the MPA for investing, in every sense, in developing the wealth of cinematic talent in the region. As the magnificent slate of completed APSA MPA Film Fund projects attests, supporting these projects at such a crucial early stage truly does ensure that the incredible stories and myriad voices of our culturally rich region reach our screens, to be seen, heard and shared both across the region and with the rest of the world.”


The MPA APSA Academy Film Fund was created to support, at script stage, new feature film projects originated by APSA Academy members and their colleagues across Asia Pacific. The fund awards four development grants of US$25,000 annually. The 9th round of the Fund will bring the total number of projects funded to 36. The recipients of the grants will be announced during the 12th Asia Pacific Screen Awards Ceremony on Thursday 29 November 2018 in Brisbane, Australia.

Further demonstrating a commitment to supporting and promoting cinema from the region, the MPA will hold a screening of a film from the region at the MPAA headquarters in Washington DC, later in the year, the fifth such event of its kind. Previous editions of the event have included screenings of MPA APSA Academy Film Fund completed projects A Separation, No Burqas Behind Bars and Memories On Stone.




  • Annemarie Jacir’s celebrated family drama Wajib World Premiered at the 2017 Locarno Film Festival. By the end of the year it had won Best Fiction Feature and Best Actor at the Dubai International Film Festival and received an APSA nomination for Best Actor (Mohammad and Saleh Bakri). It also won 4 other major international awards and was Palestine’s official submission to the 90th Academy Awards© for Best Foreign Language Film.
  • Payman Maadi’s feature Bomb, a love story set in Tehran under Iraqi bombardment in 1987, World Premiered at the Fajr Film Festival in February 2018, the leading festival in its native Iran, where it won the Special Jury Prize.Bomb is written and directed by Maadi who also stars in the film, where he is reunited with his A Separation co-star Leila Hatami.




Earlier the same day, the MPA and the Beijing International Film Festival co-hosted the MPA-BFM Film Workshop, conducting panel discussions on Market Trends in Film Distribution and Exhibition, Building a Film Production Industrial Eco-System in China, and The Way to Success for Network Generated Content featuring expert speakers from the Chinese film industry and overseas.


The afternoon pitching competition featured presentations of the four finalist projects pitched during the Beijing Film Market.  The judges announced that all four projects were of a very high quality, were well presented, and all directors showed promise for an exciting career in the film industry. Writer/Director MAO Zexiang, who presented Wilder, a coming of age story about a young man who comes to know a different side of his father after his untimely death, was awarded a five-day film immersion trip to Los Angeles. Writer/Director HAN Shuai, who presented Summer Boy, a young kid tortured by his failure to save his childhood friend from drowning, was awarded the President’s Special Recognition Award, winning a trip to the Asia Pacific Screen Awards in Brisbane, Australia.


See the full film workshop program here.

See photos from the events here.