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Singapore Plays Leading Role in Artistic and Financial Boom of Southeast Asian Films

Variety logo Variety 11/23/2016 Malina Saval
© Provided by Variety

Singapore might be a small country, but it strives to play the leading role in Southeast Asian cinema. With the third edition of the Singapore Media Festival taking place Nov. 23-Dec.9, the ambition will only continue to grow.

“Being in Singapore, we are in a wonderful geographical position to be the center of Southeast Asian cinema, including that of Singapore,” says Yuni Hadi, executive director of Singapore Intl. Film Festival (SGIFF,) one of the constituent events of the Singapore Media Festival. “There’s a lot of potential for collaboration between our neighboring countries in sharing resources and talent. We see that already happening despite difference in language.”

The Singapore Media Festival is comprised of four major events: Besides the film festival, the Asia TV Forum & Market, ScreenSingapore, and Asian Television Awards fall under this canopy hosted by the Info-Communications Media Development Authority. CASBAA Spotlight Series: Emerging Southeast Asian Markets and Cine65 by Nexus are new this year.

The event saw a significant attendance growth in a short period of time. Last year 20,000 industry players and members of the public turned up for the event, up from the 15,000 visitors recorded in its first edition in 2014.

Since its relaunch in 2014, Singapore Intl. Film Festival has been a main attraction. This year the festival will show 161 features and short films from 52 countries, with 16 world premieres, nine international premieres and 18 Asian premieres.

Hadi says the festival is an investment in the future of cinema culture in the region. She says programs including Silver Screen Awards competitions for feature and short films, Southeast Asian Film Lab and Youth Jury & Critics program were founded to nurture the voices and stories of Southeast Asian cinema.

Gladys Ng’s short film, “The Pursuit of a Happy Human Life” will premiere opening night of the fest. Dain Iskandar Said’s supernatural thriller “Interchange” will be also be shown as Asian premiere.

“We believe that we will continue to play the role of a catalyst in the development of the film industry in Singapore and the region,” Hadi says.

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