Singapore: FLY Project Helps Next Generation of Southeast Asian Talent to Soar

The peripatetic ASEAN-ROK film leaders incubator program FLY took off in 2012 in Davao, and has since touched down in Sapporo, Higashikawa/Hokkaido, Busan, Huahin, Yangon, Johor Bahru, Phnom Penh and Yogyakarta before arriving in Singapore this year.

Selected emerging filmmakers from the 10 ASEAN nations and South Korea participate in a two-week short filmmaking workshop. They are divided into two teams and must each make a short film from scratch as part of the graduation process.

The efforts of this year’s group were on display on Monday, the final day of the program. The short films “Yanti” and “Welcome To The Happiest Place On Earth” were screened to an appreciative audience at the Singapore National Design Centre, prior to the graduation ceremony.

One of the directing mentors this year was Korean filmmaker Shin Dong-seok, whose “Last Child” was a New Currents nominee at Busan in 2017 and won the White Mulberry Award at the Udine Far East Film Festival in 2018. “They are just learning how to make films, but their passion was great,” Shin told Variety about his students. “It was more than I expected. They worked very hard, until dawn. It reminded me of when I was a beginner. For me it was a great experience to think about their passion and how to be a good filmmaker.”

Singaporean filmmaker Judith Tong edited and did the post sound on “Yanti”. She has had a head start in the industry, with her shorts screened at Busan, Tribeca and Rhode Island festivals. She is currently working with prolific Singapore production outfit Akanga Film Asia. “It is very rare that we get to work with filmmakers around the region,” Tong said. “FLY is an important program to have. It’s a platform for us to have collaborations and co-productions in future.”

Fellow Singaporean, Tang Wan Xin, is a graduate of the Puttnam school of film at Lasalle. Her thesis film “White Carnations” premiered at Munich and is currently on the festival circuit. She is one of the directors on “Welcome To The Happiest Place on Earth.” “Everyone is so different,” says Tang about her FLY teammates. “The way we talk about things and the way we initially almost struggled, because we are so different. But finding those differences and finding the similarities amongst those differences, that’s what I learnt from this program.”

The FLY program is hosted by Korea’s Busan Metropolitan City and Singapore’s Info-comm Media Development Authority. It is organized by the Busan Film Commission-Busan Asian Film School, the Singapore Film Commission and Asian Film Commissions Network in cooperation with the Singapore International Film Festival and Aputure Imaging Industries. ASEAN-ROK Cooperation Fund are the sponsors.

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