As the Brisbane Asia Pacific Film Festival (better known as BAPFF) enters its third year, it has its audience front and centre. The 2016 festival’s program and trailer are each emblazoned with images of enraptured cinema-goers, entranced by the silver screen. And why wouldn’t they be? With an impressive program announced this week – running the gamut from avant-garde arthouse to films starring the likes of Kristen Stewart and Adam Driver – BAPFF is maturing into the kind of festival that deserves to attract sizable crowds.
Since its inception in 2014, the festival has attracted its fair share of criticism – not least from Richard Moore, former director of the now-defunct Brisbane International Film Festival, who described it as “a new marketing exercise” and “a mortal blow to Brisbane’s film community.” Moore’s complaints weren’t entirely unfounded; while the first two years of the festival included plenty of impressive films, it was hard to shake the impression that audiences were overshadowed by international stakeholders and, particularly, the Asia Pacific Screen Awards – whose nominations, to a large degree, determine the composition of the festival program.
Thankfully, BAPFF’s third iteration plays nice with both the APSAs and audiences. While Councillor Krista Adams made sure to highlight “business opportunities” at the festival’s media launch, those opportunities are paired with an increase in opportunities for a diverse audience to find films that speak to them, whether they’re already aficionados of Asia Pacific cinema or just looking to enjoy a good movie or two with a glass of wine.
So with 12 days (from November 23rd to December 4th) to fill, where to start? I’ve whittled down the roster to a shortlist of 10 films worth your time.