Bringing the east to the East: The Impact of the NETPAC Awards 1994 - 2019
In 1994, when we started the first NETPAC jury in Berlin, there weren’t many Asian film festivals yet. In those early years, Singapore and Pusan (now Busan) took up the challenge of hosting the NETPAC jury. By 1999, Philippines and Japan joined in via Cinemanila and Yamagata respectively.
Today, there are about 30 juries that NETPAC organises each year.Not many people realize that the NETPAC juries weren’t just to award filmmakers. They were originally intended as a vehicle to also push Asian critics into the world of Asian cinema. If so much of Asian cinema was being recognized internationally, what about the role of Asian critics in recognizing them? Plus the role of Asian festivals promoting their own cinema?
Reading the charts now, it’s interesting to note that East Asia leads in terms of the number of awards won. But there are interesting asides. For example, in those early years when Korean cinema was not the industry power house that it is today, we suggested to the Busan IFF that the NETPAC jury would only cover Korean cinema to support the emerging Korean film wave. So if you look at the chart, East Asia bagged 173 NETPAC awards but Korea led the pack with a score of 59 awards.
Here’s another insight. While Korea was quick to support the NETPAC award with many festivals convening the NETPAC jury such as Jeonju, Busan Shorts, and the Ulju Mountain film festival, China was a latecomer and only in 2019 did the Hainan IFF host the NETPAC jury. Yet China is a close second in the East Asia zone with 48 awards. That’s testament to China’s strength as a world cinema and why it ranks as number two today.
We hope that these charts will be useful for commentators and academic researchers of Asian film.
Analytics & Conceptualisation : Raman Chawla
Layout : Suraj Prasad
Text : Ashley Ratnavibhushana and Philip Cheah