×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Singapore Film Commission Celebrates Anniversary With Documentary, Debate

The Singapore Film Commission continued the ongoing celebration of its 20th anniversary by screening a specially commissioned documentary “Singapore Cinema: Between Takes.” Directed by Koh Chong Wu, the film played on Saturday as part of the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF).

The illuminating feature traces the history of Singapore cinema from the 1950s through the 1970s, the decline of the industry in the 1980s, and its revival in the 1990s. The present day may be enjoying a renaissance.

The screening was followed by a lively debate on new perspectives on Singapore cinema, moderated by journalist Genevieve Sarah Loh, with panelists that included local superstar, the director-producer Jack Neo (“Wonderful! Liang Xi Mei the Movie”,) Singapore Film Commission director Joachim Ng, Singapore filmmaking doyen Eric Khoo (“Ramen Shop”,) and directors Kirsten Tan (“Pop Aye”) and Sanif Olek (“Sayang Disayang”).

“You can see from early days that it’s been a huge struggle and we were trying to learn,” said Ng. “In the last five or six years it’s really been an incredible journey where some of our filmmakers are making films that are really resonating on the world stage.”

Neo and Khoo reminisced about the days when they worked together on 1997’s “12 Storeys.” Responding to a question from the audience, Khoo said that the SGIFF was instrumental in Singaporeans getting access to world cinema, such as the films of Aki Kaurismaki.

Inevitably, the topic of censorship was raised in an audience question. “Once you take money from any funding body, whether it is the Singapore Film Commission or not, you are subject to their values, their politics, their guidelines, their rules, their regulations. And in Singapore it is very much a reality that the press and the media is very much controlled by a higher entity. So being a filmmaker in Singapore, it’s also navigating all that process,” said Tan. “It’s also very much about how much you can go and how much you cannot go. It’s a dance really.

“As a Singaporean filmmaker I do hope that one day there will be more trust, because I feel like we are rapidly maturing as a society, as an audience… basically it’s about all of us growing together, trusting each other more, so that we can make the glorious Singaporean films that we deserve to make.”

Regarding the possibility of private investors getting tax breaks for investing in Singaporean films, as is common in some European countries, Ng said, “We’ve looked at it. It is tricky, given Singapore’s tax regime, to create a special tax holiday for private monies that comes into a very narrow sector called film. We don’t have the same tax regime as many of the European countries. It’s something that we have considered, but at this point, probably not.”

When asked about local audiences for homegrown independent cinema, Khoo said, “It has been our dream that more Singaporeans will come and support the less mainstream films, but then again, in reality, it is a small market, and it’s incredible that Jack’s film ‘Ah Boys to Men’ has half the gross of a Marvel film!” Khoo noted that beyond the superhero and action franchises, the market for American dramas and indies has reduced by 10% in Singapore(in recent years).

Neo is looking to make films that can travel around Southeast Asia. These are expected to include his Chinese New Year 2019 release, action comedy, “Killer Not Stupid.”

“The main thing that drives attention to our films is we ourselves,” said Olek. “Singaporeans, we should open up ourselves to all the different, diverse, language films that come from Singapore. That will drive up viewership to our local films.”

“In time, Singapore as a country will reach a certain level of affluence and a certain level of reflectiveness of who we are as a people,” said Ng. “The audiences will come. The challenge to our own industry is that we have to continue to up our game.”

More Film

  • Brett Leonard Boards 'Elijah'

    Film News Roundup: 'Lawnmower Man' Director Brett Leonard Boards 'Elijah'

    In today’s film news roundup, “Elijah” gets a director, a French fry documentary starts shooting and “Uglydolls” moves its release date forward. PROJECT LAUNCH Brett Leonard, best known for directing ”The Lawnmower Man” and “Virtuosity,” will direct the supernatural feature film “Elijah,” based on the Old Testament prophet. The project is set up at Winter [...]

  • SAG-AFTRA HQ

    SAG-AFTRA Commercial Negotiations Set for February

    With no fanfare, SAG-AFTRA and the ad industry have set a mid-February start for negotiations for a successor deal to the union’s master contract, Variety has learned. The current three-year deal — which covers about $1 billion in annual earnings — expires on March 31. SAG-AFTRA and the Joint Policy Committee of the ad industry [...]

  • SONDRA LOCKESONDRA LOCKE - 1986

    Oscar Nominee Sondra Locke Dies at 74

    Actress and director Sondra Locke, who received a supporting actress Oscar nomination in her first movie role for “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter,” died Nov. 3 at 74. The Los Angeles County Public Health Department confirmed her death. She died due to breast and bone cancer, according to Radar Online, which reported that she [...]

  • Clint Eastwood and Alison Eastwood'The Mule'

    Clint Eastwood: Why Alison Eastwood Came Out of Acting Retirement for Her Dad

    Clint Eastwood’s daughter Alison Eastwood was done with acting after appearing in 2014’s “Finding Harmony.” Or so she thought. It was a Friday night and she and her husband were heading to dinner when her father’s producer Sam Moore called. “He [says], ‘You know, your dad wants you to do this film,” Alison recalls. “I [...]

  • 'Dead Women Walking' Review: Uncompromising, Powerful

    Film Review: 'Dead Women Walking'

    The sober and gripping “Dead Women Walking” focuses on the final days of a series of female inmates facing the death sentence. Divided into nine chapters, each inching its way inexorably closer to the moment of execution, the drama turns the fragmentation of its approach to a powerful advantage. Not only do the individual stories [...]

  • Sam Mendes

    Sam Mendes' World War I Drama '1917' Set for Awards-Season Launch on Christmas 2019

    Universal Pictures has given an awards-season release date of Dec. 25, 2019, to Sam Mendes’ World War I drama “1971.” Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners is producing “1917” through its DreamWorks Pictures brand. “1917” will open in limited release on Christmas Day then go wide two weeks later on Jan. 10, 2020. Mendes wrote the script [...]

  • Ventana Sur Queer Latin Film Panel

    Ventana Sur: Panel Talks Merits, Setbacks in Latin Queer Cinema

    BUENOS AIRES — Four venerable professionals from the cinema world joined on Monday evening for Queer Cinema In Latin America, a frank discussion on Latin America’s role within the queer filmscape for Ventana Sur’s Industry conference series held at the UCA campus in Buenos Aires. Touching on advancements in character arc and notable achievements in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content