Director Ray Argall gave the introduction to the Screen Australia/ Golden Koala event on Monday 22nd February 2016.
As Jury President, and for those who haven't had the opportunity to see the films I thought it'd be a good idea to give you all a wider context to the cinema of our visiting filmmakers.
Silzati Jakov, Director of Genuine Love is not in competition this year but has come highly recommended and is screening as part of the festival's special screening programme. Silzati is running many Q&A sessions around Australia where the film is screening.
We have the creative team for The Loner, Director Guan Jing, Assistant Director Jiang Wan and Investor Han Zhixing.
The Loner was nominated in the Golden Koala awards for Best Film award and Best Actor, and was warmly accepted by the jury. It is a remarkable story about Chinese and Japanese reconciliation coming out of the depths of war.
Sontha Gyal is the director of River, and has been awarded Best Film at the festival this year.
Sontha's previous film The Sun Beaten Path was screened at the 2013 Golden Koala festival, so for us on the jury it was a pleasure to see the next film from him, and he was awarded Best Director this year.
River is a beautifully constructed film and like The Sun Beaten Path it captures the characters and drama unfolding with a clarity that resonates in each and every image. The performances shine with a natural ease, in particular there is a remarkable performance from 5 year old Yangchan Lhamo - something the jury unanimously decided to acknowledge with a special performance award. The power of observation is so strong in this film it catches you by surprise, and Sontha uses sound and music to tell a touching story that rings true through every moment.
Chakme Rinpoche is the director of ATA, which has been awarded the Jury Prize this year. This is a film made with remarkable attention to detail, there is such thought and care put into every frame and every sound. This is a story told with a very delicate touch. The subjective use of music and subjective sound is particularly powerful, and reminds us of the early films of Bresson and Ozu.
On Friday night I was really pleased to be at the Q&A for ATA at the opening night screening. It is one of the great rewards of being involved in a festival like this to hear filmmakers talk about their films. Chakme talked about how he made this, his first feature - how he came to the story, how he chose his cast and crew, how he had to fight to keep his vision for the film alive with the more commercially minded producers, and how he learned that editing takes up much more time than you could ever think!
Wearing my other hat as the Asia Pacific representative on the board of the International Federation of Coalitions for Cultural Diversity, I'd like to thank festival director Ray Shen and the festival's Artistic Director Professor Xie Fei for introducing us to new Chinese cinema each year.
Last year Professer Xie Fei raised the idea of taking a selection of Australian films to present in China, and specifically at Beijing University that would allow Australian filmmakers to share some of our cinema culture with Chinese students and filmmakers.
I know Screen Australia have been working hard in this area to build working relationships with the Chinese film community and I hope we can work together to extend the cultural exchange the Golden Koala festival presents us with each year.
Can I also thank Jenny for doing the translations - we might communicate through the international language of cinema, but we would be lost without you.