Singapore film festival in Mexico opens

Mr Royston Tan at Singapore Film Festival in Mexico on June 9.
Mr Royston Tan at Singapore Film Festival in Mexico on June 9. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

MEXICO CITY • Bilateral relations is like a flower, said Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Defence Maliki Osman, drawing inspiration from a film shown at the launch of the inaugural Singapore Film Festival in Mexico.

Referencing film-maker Royston Tan's segment in 7 Letters, Bunga Sayang, which means the flower of love, Dr Maliki said on Wednesday evening: "Political exchanges give the flower its basic form; economic linkages give it colour and texture. However, it is only through cultural interactions that the flower will eventually bloom."

He added: "Through film, we experience each other's culture and form connections... This is the ultimate goal of diplomacy - to create connections and understanding among people even if they are separated by vast distances."

Bunga Sayang tells of an unlikely friendship between a Chinese schoolboy and his Malay makcik neighbour that bloomed when the water supply in his flat was cut off, and he had to use her shower. The duo do not speak the same language but bonded through music.

7 Letters is an anthology of short works by seven Singapore film-makers, that opened the festival held in conjunction with President Tony Tan Keng Yam's state visit to Mexico. The other movies are Anthony Chen's Ilo Ilo, Royston Tan's 881 and Eric Khoo's 12 Storeys.

The selection, said Dr Maliki, will give Mexicans a glimpse of what life in the Singapore heartland is like.

Organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Media Development Authority and the Cineteca Nacional, the five-day festival opened to the public on Thursday night (Friday morning, Singapore time). Cineteca Nacional stores film archives and is a top cinema hub in Mexico City.

Mr Royston Tan said many Mexican film-makers had not heard of Singapore cinema. "They are very curious about the multicultural aspect of Singapore, and how we fuse that into our films," he said.

Pearl Lee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2016, with the headline 'S'pore Film Festival in Mexico opens'. Print Edition | Subscribe