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.

NETPAC Awards presentation in film festivals over the years
NETPAC Awards presentation in film festivals over the years


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?


Regional recognition via NETPAC Awards
Regional recognition via NETPAC Awards


Countrywise distribution of NETPAC Awards
Countrywise distribution of NETPAC Awards


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

International Women's Day

We are pleased to bring to you, for the second year, our International Women’s Day screening!

Free online screening | 8th March

IWD theme this year is #ChooseToChallenge. A challenged world is an alert world. From challenge comes change, so let's all choose to challenge - Ubolsyn herself completely embraces the theme!

This year we invite you to a special free online screening of ULBOLSYN from director Adilkhan Yerzhanov. Our sincere thanks to the producers, Guillaume de Seille and Olga Khlasheva, for their generosity and their efforts in facilitating the screening.

Ulbolsyn Source Poffdotee

The film tells the story of a girl named Ulbolsyn (Kazakh for ‘let there be a son’) whose little sister Azhar is kidnapped by the regional mayor’s brother Urgen for marital purposes and taken away to his village. Ulbolsyn wants her sister to be free and to enter her into a foreign university so that she can pursue a future career. As soon as she learns about the incident, Ulbolsyn decides to fight for her sister and face down the patriarchal world of the people living in the Karatas village.

The film is the recipient of the NETPAC Award in Tallinn Black Nights and TRT award in CineLink Sarajevo WIP 2020

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