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Singapore Unveils Grant Scheme for Asian Film Co-Production

The Singaporean government is to launch a new scheme to fund film co-production in Southeast Asia. It will offer grants worth S$250,000 (US$183,000) per film.

The initiative was announced Wednesday by Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran during the Singapore Hour at the Asia TV Forum. The ATF is part of the annual Singapore Media Festival (SMF). The fund will be administered by the Singapore Film Commission, part of the Info-Comm Media Development Authority.

The move follows several years during which the authority has focused on local filmmakers and talent, and a period in which Singaporean films including “A Land Imagined,” “Pop Aye” and “Ilo Ilo” have won prizes at major international festivals. The co-production grant is said to represent a change of direction toward a policy of greater regional cooperation in Asia.

To qualify, a project must have the involvement of a producer from Singapore along with a director from one of the following Southeast Asian countries: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. Ownership of the intellectual property is not a criterion.

The grant is capped at 50% of production budget (excluding marketing costs). Significantly, it will not require more than 50% of the grant figure to be spent in Singapore.

The SFC will formally launch the initiative in the second quarter of 2019, with a call for proposals that runs until the third quarter. The list of successful projects will be announced in the final quarter of next year. Thereafter, the process will operate a once-per-year window.

The SFC says that there is no theoretical cap on the number of projects to be supported, though it has an undisclosed internal budget for the scheme – and instead will place an emphasis on Singaporean creative producers and the quality of submitted projects.

The organization emphasized that the grant program represents new money, and is not a replacement for the existing film-support schemes within Singapore. It will also be open to working with the Southeast Asian Film Financing Forum (SAFF) project market.

In its initial iteration, grants will be available for feature narrative films, potentially including animation and documentaries, but excluding series.

The scheme is said to be modeled on the Aide aux Cinemas du Monde fund administered by France’s national film board and the Hubert Bals Fund in the Netherlands. “We believe this fund is the first of its kind in Asia,” an SFC spokesman said Wednesday. “In time, we hope that other governments and private institutions will see the value of cooperation.”

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