by FilmInk Staff

The 15th annual MPA APSA Academy Film Fund was opened for submissions during the MPA American Film Night event at the Shanghai International Film Festival. This prestigious fund, open exclusively to Asia Pacific Screen Academy members and their collaborators, offers four script development grants of US$25,000 annually. To date, the Fund has supported 56 films from 27 countries and areas of Asia Pacific.

The announcement was made by APSA Academy member and previous Fund recipient, esteemed Australian filmmaker Rolf de Heer who is currently serving on the Jury of Shanghai International Film Festival, together with the Australian Consul-General to Shanghai Mr John Williams.

Since its inception in 2010, the partnership between the Motion Picture Association (MPA) and the Asia Pacific Screen Academy (APSA) through the MPA APSA Academy Film Fund has fostered diverse and engaging storytelling across the region. The fund has supported 56 feature films, many of which have garnered accolades at prestigious film festivals and awards, including the Academy Awards, the Silver Bear, and the International Emmy. These films have been showcased at Cannes, Venice, Berlin and Toronto Festivals.

In 2024, the first MPA supported film from Vietnam, Việt And Nam, was selected for the prestigious Un Certain Regard programme at Cannes.

Producer of Việt And Nam, Bianca Balbuena commented “The MPA APSA Academy Film Fund has jumpstarted the voyage of our 8-country co-production film, Việt And Nam. We were able to do our script revisions, location immersion and even the vast search for the people to play the characters in the film. We remained faithful to our core beliefs in cinema- authenticity and truth. Thank you, APSA and the MPA, for believing in the project in its early stage. It was a beautiful feeling screening the film in Cannes with the people who made the film happen and who supported us throughout our journey.”

Over the past 15 years, the Fund has received over 1,450 exceptional projects from the diverse cultures encompassed by APSA, making the selection process incredibly challenging.

Today, APSA also announces the retirement of Andrew Pike OAM as the chair of the Film Fund Jury, with Kiki Fung – curator, film critic and Programme Consultant for the Hong Kong International Film Festival – stepping into the role.

Andrew Pike said “Presiding over the jury for the MPA APSA Academy Film Fund has been an absolute pleasure and is a true highlight each year. Witnessing the exceptional quality of films and projects emerging from the Asia Pacific fills me with immense pride and optimism. The creativity and innovation we see in these submissions herald an incredible future for cinema in our region.”

Kiki Fung, a regular member of the APSA International Nominations Council remarked “The MPA APSA Academy Film Fund has continuously supported extraordinary films at the development stage, many of which have been globally praised and appreciated. Having worked with APSA in various capacities over the years, I am deeply honoured to take up the position of the Film Fund’s Jury Chair, and I look forward to embarking on this rewarding and exciting journey as we become stimulated and inspired by the filmmakers’ visions for new possibilities in cinema.”

The MPA and APSA jointly thanked Andrew Pike for his incredible contribution to the establishment and stewardship of the fund and expressed excitement for the new projects that will be supported as Kiki Fung steps into the Jury Chair role.

Belinda Lui, President and Managing Director Asia Pacific, Motion Picture Association, said: “The MPA APSA Academy Film Fund has been a beacon of support for emerging filmmakers in the Asia Pacific region. Our partnership with APSA has enabled the discovery and nurturing of unique voices and compelling stories that resonate globally. We are thrilled to continue this journey under Kiki Fung’s esteemed leadership”.

Tracey Vieira, Chair Asia Pacific Screen Academy said: “This extraordinary initiative significantly impacts film across the region reflects APSA and the MPA’s ongoing commitment to developing the work of storytellers throughout the Asia Pacific. The transition to Kiki Fung’s leadership marks an exciting new chapter for the fund, and we eagerly anticipate the innovative projects that will emerge”.

The 17th Asia Pacific Screen Awards will be staged on the Gold Coast, Queensland, on 2nd November. This highly anticipated event will celebrate the Award nominees and their remarkable contributions to cinema and announce the recipients of the coveted MPA APSA Academy Film Fund.

In addition to the Awards, the Asia Pacific Screen Academy hosts an annual industry forum. The Asia Pacific Screen Forum welcomes all filmmakers to gather on the Gold Coast for five days of industry-led events, screenings and networking.

For more information and updates, visit the APSA website