The Association for Southeast Asian Cinemas (ASEAC) began in May 2004 with the inaugural meeting organized by and held at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore. An organising committee comprising young scholars and film practitioners was formed shortly after 2004 and a decision made to make it an annual event that would rotate through the region: thus far Singapore 2004, Bangkok 2005, Kuala Lumpur 2006, Jakarta 2007, Manila 2008, Ho Chi Minh 2010 and Singapore 2012.
The committee aims are to raise the level of film discourse in the region as well as to promote global awareness about Southeast Asian Cinemas as a diverse field of study within film studies and area studies. It seeks to showcase and create academic and social discourse among scholars, film critics, buffs and media activists about the multiple new cinemas from the region, highlighting film as a vehicle for artistic expression, socio-cultural reflection, as an ideological and educational tool and to provide a forum for international networking among participants. The unique feature of the event is its interdisciplinarity and combination of theory and practice: it is a place where film scholars, anthropologists and sociologists and cultural activists mingle with filmmakers, critics, programmers, archivists, and other film practitioners. The meeting usually includes academic panels focusing on contemporary issues facing filmmakers, history, genre, gender and other identities, etc., and dialogue with film practitioners.