Singaporean Cinema Still Seeking the Spotlight

Industrial Light & Magic Singapore "sandcrawler"

It’s not for want of trying, but the Singaporean film industry continues to struggle to make its voice heard.

Since the island-state’s Media Development Authority was formed in 2003, the numbers the organization has released have certainly been impressive, given Singapore’s tiny domestic audience of 5.3 million people. Last year 10 local films made it to screens, while overall box office takings of S$13 million ($10 million) was a record — and up 10% year on year. But Anthony Chen’s 2013 Camera d’Or-winning “Ilo Ilo” remains the standard bearer for the industry ($1.15 million worldwide).

Censorship is an issue for potential investors. The MDA’s banning of the documentary “To Singapore, With Love” tarnished the industry’s image abroad.

Still, the MDA keeps pushing initiatives such as the Singapore-Malaysia “match-making” seminar it hosted at Cannes this year as it seeks to expand the local industry’s options.

It points to the opening of Infinite Studios and the Sandcrawler building (pictured), which houses Lucasfilm Singapore, as positive indications.

“It is an exciting time for Singapore,” says Angeline Poh, the MDA’s assistant chief exec (industry). She points to the Singapore Media Festival (Dec. 4-14) as a sign of the local biz’s growing Asia importance.

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