Why a TOKYOPOP Asian Film Award?

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TOKYOPOP Fam:

안녕하세요!!  (anyong-haseyo = hello in Korean)

Every year during the heat of summer, a suburb outside of Seoul lights up the neon sky for Asia's top "fantastic" film festival:  BIFAN.

The Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival takes over and the entire city gets into the madness as genre filmmakers and fans gather from across the globe.  Fantastic film festivals are a particular niche within the overall category of film festivals, which usually focus more on art films and high-brow material.  These festivals, though, feature genre films, which typically means horror, fantasy, sci-fi, action and any mixture of such.  Animation is also prominently featured.  There are many around the world, and fans, filmmakers and festival staff support each other as a tight-knit circle.

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So, as an avid fan of often-dissed category of genre films, I have come to enjoy and appreciate not only the films but the festivals as well - and do what I can to support the filmmakers.  After all, manga and anime overlap significantly with genre (fantastic) films - we're all a bunch of crazy pop culture lovers who like to explore the bleeding edge.

BIFAN features a project market, NAFF, which supports films still in development - meaning they typically have a producer, director, screenplay and perhaps a few visual concepts, but still need financing, distribution and a full cast.  Awards are given away for the best (completed) films during BIFAN, and the best projects (most potential) during NAFF.

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After being on the NAFF jury in 2013, I enjoyed the process of reviewing all the film projects and meeting the filmmakers.  So, this year, for the 8th annual NAFF, I decided to sponsor an award - the first ever TOKYOPOP Asian Film Award!

With this award, TOKYOPOP can help the chosen project in 2 ways:

- financially, with a grant of US$5000 to help in development of the film

- strategically, by helping to either produce or executive produce the film for global distribution (and ideally production through remake opportunities)

We considered all the projects very carefully since there were so many compelling stories and filmmakers.  It was very difficult choosing just one!  Fortunately, there are a number of other awards at NAFF, so we knew some other projects would get their share of the limelight.

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Ultimately, though, we chose RICKY BOY THE WONDER BOY from emerging filmmakers Victor Villanueva (director) and Daphne Chiu (producer) of the Philippines.

At first glance, this actually feels less like a genre film than a potentially mainstream movie - it's a teen romantic comedy about a former boy-wonder faith healer who loses his powers until he meets the love of his life and goes on a quest to rediscover his powers to save her from a terminal disease.  But a mixture of dark angsty YA-novel moments and funny, ironic Juno-style humor creates an edgy, modern twist on the classic genre.  Combined with the quirky nature of Pinoy filmmaking and I believe the potential is quite broad with the right global team behind it - hopefully us at TOKYOPOP and other partners we can bring to the table!

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For me personally, I love being able to support artists and their creative dreams - from manga creators to fine artists to documentary and feature filmmakers, if I can somehow contribute to the success of their projects and careers, I'm proud to do it.  I can relate to the constant struggle as an artist of finding an audience for one's expressions, and still somehow afford to put food on the plate.  While I have been blessed in my career by my love for entrepreneurism as well as creative expressionism, I know that many artists are not as savvy in business, and ideally we can all learn from each other.

The creative industries, contrary to popular belief, are not the ideal breeding ground for successful businesspeople, but instead attract passionate people with a unique vision of the world - a vision that can help evolve the human condition and contribute to a better place.

And that, folks, is why there is a TOKYOPOP Asian Film Award.  Stay tuned for Victor and Daphne's film - hopefully we can help deliver it to you for your entertainment pleasure!

고맙습니다! (kamsahamnida = thank you in Korean)

--Stu (from Bucheon, Korea)