Singapore steps out

ScreenSingapore to emphasize area benefits

BEIJING — The international ambitions of ScreenSingapore are apparent in its choice of films, guests and the key players behind the island-state’s first foray into staging a global film confab.

ScreenSingapore’s board is headed by Greg Coote, chairman of Latitude Entertainment, and includes some of the biggest names in the region, such as Hyde Park Entertainment’s Ashok Amritraj, helmer and producer Shekhar Kapur and Fortissimo chairman Michael J. Werner.

“It is the first year of ScreenSingapore, but if you look at the attendees, it’s an incredible list of international participants,” says Werner. “There are a lot of people now coming to Singapore — a whole range of people who might not have thought about (it) before.”

ScreenSingapore kicks off June 5 with Zhang Qi’s actioner “The Devil Inside Me,” and Tom Hanks will be on hand June 11 for the red carpet gala of “Larry Crowne.”

Asia has several major fests, with Tokyo, Pusan, Hong Kong Filmart and other regional events all vying for attention. But Werner says ScreenSingapore is not about competing with other events, but rather about emphasizing the Southeast Asian area.

“ScreenSingapore shows what Singapore has to offer, in terms of location, food, climate — as a destination. But more importantly, there are the production and funding and talent resources. Singapore can emerge as a hub,” he says.

The event is also meant to display the economic strengths of Southeast Asia — which hasn’t been hit by the global recession as hard as other regions — and focus on what countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and India can bring to the world stage in terms of talent and resources.

Not only does ScreenSingapore have an international board, but its global ambassadors, including helmers Oliver Stone and Wayne Wang, execs Harold Shaw (Shaw Organisation), Kishore Lulla (Eros Intl.), Albert Lee (Emperor Motion Picture Group), Paul Hanneman (20th Century Fox), Sanjeev Lamba (Reliance Big Pictures) and Joe Drake (Lionsgate), and thesps such as Zhang Ziyi, further expand its international outlook.

The city-state’s Media Development Authority (MDA), with its mandate to foster the growth of the media business in Singapore, is the orgaziner behind the confab.

Its trade expo runs June 7-9, setting up networking opportunities for producers, buyers and sellers, and includes a 3D production forum, a World Intellectual Property Organization masterclass, the Film Finance Forum presented by Winston Baker in association with Variety, and an “In Conversation” series with showbiz players.

ScreenSingapore, no doubt recognizing the economic strength of the China, has programmed a China Film Festival, which will feature five recentfive recent Chinese movies, co-organized by the MDA and China’s Film Bureau.

Helmer Gordon Chan (“Painted Skin”) and producer Abe Kwong Man-Wai (“The Lost Bladesman”) will present new footage from the highly anticipated film “The Mural,” while “Mulan” helmer Jingle Ma is slated to attend with thesp Tang Wei (“Lust, Caution”) to unveil the latest scenes from the Chinese actioner “Speed Angel.”

Hong Kong thesp Nick Cheung and helmer Wong Jing of “God of Gamblers” fame will present the world preem of their Hong Kong chopsocky laffer “Treasure Inn.”

ScreenSingapore will also host the international preem of French film “The Assault,” with thesp Melanie Bernier and helmer Julien Leclercq in attendance.

The event’s Japan Night features two international bows — Warner Bros.’ Japan live adaptation of Ai Yazawa’s popular manga series “Paradise Kiss,” starring Keiko Kitagawa (“Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift”) and Osamu Mukai, with thesp Aya Omasa attending the event; while Japanese warbler May’n will present her 3D concert film “May’n the Movie — Phonic Nation.”

“Mr. Popper’s Penguins,” with Jim Carrey; and J.J. Abrams’ “Super 8” highlight Hollywood Night, with Disney, Fox, Universal, Paramount and Warner Bros. set to preview their upcoming lineups at invitation-only presentations.

A tribute to Bollywood will see superstar Shah Rukh Khan present a sneak preview of his upcoming science-fiction superhero film, “Ra.One,” directed by Anubhav Sinha.

Fest will showcase local cinema, too, and features two international bows of pics by Singaporean filmmakers: “Where the Road Meets the Sun,” by Yong Munchee, and “Jesus Henry Christ,” produced by Singapore’s Sukee Chew and written and helmed by Dennis Lee from the U.S.

Running concurrently with the event will be the Asian Short Film Awards. This competish will be chaired by Stone and will select winners from among 90 entries from 15 countries.

“Like most startup media and film events, (ScreenSingapore) has had its normal growing pains,” Werner says. “For the Hollywood people coming, it’s a reason for them to open their eyes and imagine the possibility of what Singapore and the region have to offer.”

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