Brisbane Asia Pacific Film Festival Unveils First Look At Epic 2015 Program

14 October 2015 | 1:40 pm | Staff Writer

The second year of the fledgling Qld event is already looking sharp from here

After a stunning inaugural showing in November last year, the Brisbane Asia Pacific Film Festival is due to return to the Queensland capital in just more than a month's time, with organisers unveiling the first taste of what to expect when the event makes its second-ever showing in the city this year.

Leading the announcement of first-look flicks is Opening Night drama The Idol (Ya Tayr El Tayer), which will make its Australian debut at BAPFF hot off its world premiere at last month's Toronto International Film Festival. The movie — a joint production between Palestine, Qatar, UAE, Netherlands and the UK — is directed by Hany Abu-Assad, and is based on the true story of Palestinian pop singer Mohammad Assaf, who rose to prominence in the Arab world as the victor of 2013's second season of the wildly popular Arab Idol franchise, despite very nearly not even getting to have the chance to audition in the first place.

The flick will kick off this year's BAPFF with the Opening Night premiere — at which Lord Mayor Graham Quirk will be in attendance — at the Australian Cinematheque at Qld Art Gallery, Gallery of Modern Art, on Thursday 19 November, from 6.30pm; tickets are available now via the festival.

"BAPFF is a prestigious film festival showcasing the creative and cultural breadth of cinematic works and reinforces the emergence of Brisbane as a major player, economically and culturally, in the Asia Pacific region," Quirk said in a statement.

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

"I am delighted to welcome Brisbane audiences to BAPFF Opening Night, where cinema lovers will be treated to The Idol, a film by multi-Academy Award-nominated Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad, who received the 2013 APSA [Asia Pacific Screen Award] for Best Feature Film for his last film Omar."

Also high on BAPFF's bill is The Taking Of Tiger Mountain (Zhi Qu Wei Hu Shani), a 3D action-adventure from venerated director Tsui Hark and this year's Closing Night film, as well as the introduction of the Turkish Waves program, a collaborative effort with the Asia Pacific Screen Academy, the Turkish Government Ministry of Culture & Tourism and the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade.

"This partnership is timely with the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Gallipoli and further forges our enduring connection between Turkey and our new-world city," Quirk said.

The Turkish Waves program, curated by Zeyno Film head and Turkish Film Producers Assocation chair Zeynep Özbatur Atakan, will feature nine screenings, including five of this year's award-winning Turkish films from the international circuit as well as "a restored masterpiece". The Closing Night film will screen at Palace Barracks on Sunday 29 November; tickets are on sale now.

In between the bookends, though, there's already a sizeable spread of movies to check out for any self-respecting cinema buff.

"The BAPFF program will showcase 34 nominated feature films from the prestigious 9th APSA, the region’s highest accolade in film, held in City Hall on Thursday 26 November during the film festival," BAPFF/APSA chairman Michael Hawkins said in a statement.

"Films nominated for the 2015 APSA Best Youth Feature Film will form part of the BAPFF program and include Australian premieres of 2015 APSA UNESCO Award nominee A Corner of Heaven (People’s Republic of China/France), Mina Walking (Afghanistan/Canada), Set Me Free (Republic of Korea) and River (People’s Republic of China), written and directed by Asia Pacific Screen Academy member Sonthar Gyal, recipient of the script development grant, the 2011 APSA Academy Children’s Film Fund, as well as the Queensland premiere of Mustang (Turkey/Qatar/France/Germany)."

In fact, BAPFF's cup runneth over with premieres — this year's festival also includes the Australian debuts of 2015 Locarno Golden Leopard winner Right Now, Wrong Then (Republic of Korea) and Israel's Tikkun, which picked up the 2015 Best Actor and Best Cinematography prizes at the Jerusalem Film Festival, as well as Hong Kong Trilogy: Preschooled Preoccupied Preposterous, by Australian-born auteur Christopher Doyle, and Aussie/Canadian flick Early Winter, the winner of this year's Venice Days award.

BAPFF will also boast the Queensland premieres of the APSA-UNESCO Award-nominated Spear — the directorial debut feature film from Brisbane-born director Stephen Page, whose creative bounds extend to also handling duties as the artistic director of the Bangarra Dance Theatre group — and the latest work from Chinese indie director Jia ZhangkeMountains May Depart.

Rounding out the first-look BAPFF tease are Tehran Taxi (Islamic Republic of Iran, directed by Jafar Panahi), The Assassin (Taiwan, directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien), Aussie classic Bad Boy Bubby (directed by Rolf de Heer) and the 2015 APSA Best Documentary Award-nominated Another Country (co-produced by de Heer), directed and produced by Molly Reynolds and co-written and narrated by David Gulpilil.

This year's Brisbane Asia Pacific Film Festival will boast more than 75 feature-length films and documentaries when all is said and done, and runs over 10 days next month, from 19-29 November.

Tickets for Opening and Closing Night films are available now, as are multi-passes and gift vouchers. The full program launches on 28 October; see the BAPFF website for more information.