Asian Film Awards Academy Program Series kicked off by BAFTA A Life in Pictures with renowned Hong Kong director Johnnie To

Founded in 2013 by the three major international film festivals in Asia, that is Busan, Hong Kong and Tokyo, the Asian Film Awards Academy (AFAA)’s objective is to promote and develop Asian cinema, its talents and audiences. With the financial support from Create Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Film Development Fund, the AFAA will present year-round initiatives such as professional exchanges, mentorship and development programs for young filmmakers, and strategies for regional and international audience development.

This year, also with the support of Brand Hong Kong and Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, London, the AFAA collaborates with the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) and the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) for the first time and kicked off the AFAA’s year-round initiatives with talks by renowned Hong Kong director Johnnie To Kei-fung. The two events BAFTA A Life in Pictures: Johnnie To and In Person: Johnnie To respectively took place on June 22, 2015 (Monday) in London (UK) and on June 24, 2015 (Wednesday) in Edinburgh (UK) with resounding success. The occasions provided the UK audience with the rare opportunities to meet a Hong Kong director face to face to have a deeper understanding of Hong Kong film, meeting the events co-presenters’ and supporters shared aim to encourage creative and cultural exchanges between the film talents of Hong Kong and the UK.

Johnnie To is the first Hong Kong director to participate in the BAFTA A Life in Pictures series. Over the years, the series’ speakers have included top-notch international film professionals, including Ang Lee, Martin Scorsese, Kenneth Branagh, Cate Blanchett, David Fincher, Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Ethan Hawke, Helen Mirren, Dustin Hoffman, Alan Rickman and Quentin Tarantino.

After the BAFTA event, To also attended the 69th Edinburgh International Film Festival. The Festival presented Exiled directed by To. The film was nominated for Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival in 2006. To participated in an extended talk In Person: Johnnie To after the screening.

During the two talks, To discussed the relationship between everyday life and film, his creative journey and the power of Hong Kong as a character in his films. The screening and the talks were met with enthusiastic audiences. To’s sense of humor triggered hearty laughter from the audiences.

Besides the talks, the AFAA is also organizing other year-round events and activities. Collaborating with different countries and territories in Asia and beyond, the AFAA will present educational and training programs for students and young film professionals, film roadshows and masterclasses to foster better relationships among different film industries and encourage cultural exchange. These events and activities include:

Masterclass Series
The Masterclass Series presents an Asian filmmaker in conversation with a film critic open to the general public in different parts of the world to raise awareness and knowledge of Asian cinema and some of the key players in its development and practice. Collaborating with the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) and the Edinburgh International Film Festival, the Series kicked off this year with a tour of renowned Hong Kong filmmaker Johnnie To in the UK, sharing his work and insights in film.

Asian Cinerama
Asian Cinerama promotes Asian cinema by giving audiences of Asia and beyond rare opportunities to see outstanding Asian films. The screenings of Asian films in different parts of the world will help develop regional film industries and markets of Asia.

AFAA Young Film Professionals Program
AFAA Young Film Professionals Program offers overseas training opportunities in mature film industries for early and mid career film professionals in their respective disciplines. These professionals selected by veteran film professionals and specialists will learn working methods and structures from the AFAA’s overseas partner organizations and benefit their own working practice. This also serves to develop the relationship between Asian film professionals with those that are outside the region.

Journey to the Fest
Journey to the Fest comprises student visits to major international film festivals led by the AFAA. The visits allow film and media students the opportunity to develop their skills and enrich their outlook and experience through visiting international film festivals and networking with their peers and professionals from around the world. Students on the visit participate in festival events, talks, attend networking events and watch films.

About Asian Film Awards Academy
Founded in 2013 by the three major international film festivals in Asia, that is Busan, Hong Kong and Tokyo, the Asian Film Awards Academy’s objective is to promote and develop Asian cinema, its talents and audiences. The AFAA highlights, strengthens and develops the Asian film industry and culture through the Asian Film Awards, and year-round initiatives such as professional exchanges, mentorship and development programs for young filmmakers, and strategies for regional and international audience development.

The Asian Film Awards Academy members come from all over Asia. They are drawn from all nominees and winners at the Asian Film Awards. Additional members who are prominent in their field may also be inducted into the Asian Film Awards Academy. Members are given voting rights for the Asian Film Awards and also participate in various Academy activities around the region.

The Asian Film Awards Academy expresses the increasing global importance and creative strength of the cinemas of Asia and will help unite the industries and talents of this fast-growing region.For more, visit www.afaacademy.asia.

About BAFTA
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts is an independent charity that supports, develops and promotes the art forms of the moving image by identifying and rewarding excellence, inspiring practitioners and benefiting the public. In addition to its Awards ceremonies, BAFTA has a year-round programme of learning events and initiatives – featuring workshops, masterclasses, scholarships, lectures and mentoring schemes – in the UK, USA and Asia; it offers unique access to the world’s most inspiring talent and connects with a global audience of all ages and backgrounds. BAFTA relies on income from membership subscriptions, individual donations, trusts, foundations and corporate partnerships to support its ongoing outreach work. To access the best creative minds in film, television and games production, visit www.bafta.org/guru. For more, visit www.bafta.org.

About Create Hong Kong
Create Hong Kong is a dedicated office set up under the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on 1 June 2009 to lead, champion and drive the development of the creative economy in Hong Kong. It co-ordinates Government policy and effort regarding creative industries, focuses Government resources for the promotion and speeding up of the development of creative industries in Hong Kong, and works closely with the trade to boost the development of creative industries. For more details, visit http://www.createhk.gov.hk/.

About Film Development Fund
The Film Development Fund was first set up by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in 1999 to fund projects and activities which contribute towards the development of the Hong Kong film industry, including part-financing small-to-medium budget film productions; enhancing efforts to promote Hong Kong films in the Mainland and overseas; enhancing initiatives to train talents in various aspects of film production and distribution; and enhancing the interest and appreciation of Hong Kong films by the local audience. For more details, visit http://www.fdc.gov.hk/tc/services/services2.htm.

About the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, London
The Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, London is the official representation in the UK of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China. It is responsible for fostering trade, cultural and economic relations with the UK and the following countries: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Russia and Sweden.
For more, visit: www.hketolondon.gov.hk