Emerging filmmakers from Fiji and India to benefit from inaugural Asia Pacific Screen Lab

Indian filmmaker Balaka Ghosh and Fijian filmmaker Vilsoni Hereniko have been selected as the inaugural recipients of the Asia Pacific Screen Lab (APSL).

Announced by the Griffith Film School, the Asia Pacific Screen Academy and NETPAC (Network for the Promotion of Asia Pacific Cinema), the two emerging filmmakers will be paired with an APSA Academy member to undertake an immersive year-long development incubator program and mentorship.

Balaka Ghosh was selected to develop her feature film about five men with one wife in a unique and extraordinary story in very ordinary surroundings, and Vilsoni Hereniko’s narrative feature film script is set in the Marshall Island, and is s tale of nuclear colonialism, a suppressed story that needs telling.

The two were selected from a host of applicants from across Australia, Cambodia, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Japan, Malaysia, People’s Republic of China, Philippines, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam.

The APSL is an initiative of NETPAC overseen by NETPAC members Philip Cheah (Vice-President), Park Ki-yong and Professor Herman Van Eyken and hosted and administered by the Griffith Film School, Griffith University Brisbane in collaboration with the APSA Academy.

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.”

According to Professor Herman Van Eyken, Head of Griffith Film School, “screenwriting and story development is a key factor in this Lab as this is where it all starts”.

“We are working with some of the world’s leading experts to develop an incubator program which will bring these scripts to production and hopefully, worldwide distribution,” he said.

NETPAC Vice President Philip Cheah said “with only one month from announcement to close of submissions, we have achieved an extraordinary result with 27 applications from established and aspiring filmmakers from the region who see the opportunity to expand their knowledge and craft”.

“Particularly promising was seeing emerging film talent coming from countries such as Cambodia who have little film industry infrastructure and funding incentives, and from the quality of their submissions we see this as a very promising trend.

“This is exactly who this initiative is meant for,” Mr Cheah said.

Park Ki-Yong, renowned filmmaker and respected academic from Republic of Korea agrees.

“One of the recipients is a project we can claim as a rare submission coming from the Pacific Islands, an area that needs our full support for development of their emerging film industries,” he said.

“The richness of stories that exists in this region will have a voice through the Asia Pacific Screen Lab.”

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;
  • A workshop opportunity with auteur-style writer-director-producers such as Marion Hansel, who is also a pitch expert involved in Torino Film Lab; and
  • Producer workshop entirely focused on co-production and building on expertise from Europe but also independent experts such as Ted Hope and Ira Deutschman, and from our own region from experts such as Lorna Tee and Shozo Ichiyama.

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 online.