Geoff Malone, architect and co-founder of Singapore International Film Festival, dies after long illness

Mr Geoffrey T. Malone, who died on Feb 17, 2022, is also the architect behind Singapore's first multiplex, the 10-cinema Golden Village Yishun 10. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Geoffrey T. Malone, co-founder of the Singapore International Film Festival and the architect behind Singapore's first multiplex, the 10-cinema Golden Village Yishun 10, has died at the age of 79.

In an obituary published on Sunday (Feb 20), it stated that he was born in 1943 and died last Thursday after a long illness. He is survived by his wife, son and daughter.

In a 1986 interview with The Straits Times (ST), the Australian architect said that the film festival was aimed at every film-goer. "It is to give them a chance to watch films that they wouldn't usually be able to see in a cinema here," he said.

The festival's inaugural event was held in February 1987, several months later than planned to give the committee more time to raise funds. It was later reported that Mr Malone, known as Geoff to his friends, put in $20,000 of his own money into the project.

Before coming to Singapore and becoming a permanent resident, he was an actor in two of acclaimed Australian director Peter Weir's films, the black comedy Homesdale (1971), Weir's first feature, and the horror comedy The Cars That Ate Paris (1974). Besides the Golden Village cineplex in Yishun, he also designed the one in Bishan.

In 1987, referring to the roadblocks faced by the first organising team, he jokingly told ST that, "when we first started out trying to find sponsors and to organise the festival, even I wondered if I was mad! Now, it's a nightmare come true."

In a 1994 interview with ST about the first event, Malone said: "Halfway through organising the festival, I started to realise that it wasn't going to be easy. We had no track record, no one believed in us and sometimes we didn't even believe in ourselves. Plus, there was the fear of the unknown," he said.

The Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) is now the largest and longest-running film event in Singapore.

Film-maker Boo Junfeng, 38, chairman of the SGIFF, says: "It's never easy starting something out of nothing. Geoff and the other founding members of the film festival created a platform from which so many film-makers have benefited. I feel indebted to what he has helped make possible."

Film-maker Eric Khoo, 56, says he was an avid attendee in the festival's first years. When Khoo began making short films in the early 1990s, he came to know Malone well. His short, Pain, was awarded Best Singapore Short Film at the festival in 1994.

Khoo says: "He was truly passionate when it came to cinema and was very supportive of Singapore film-makers. As a film buff, I owe a lot to the father of the festival. Without the festival, I doubt I would have become a film-maker."

Chairman of the Singapore Film Society Kenneth Tan, 57, had known Mr Malone since 1985, when the latter became a committee member. Mr Tan was also a member of the inaugural film festival's organising committee.

Mr Tan says: "I'm deeply saddened by Geoff's passing. He was a friend, an industry colleague, and one the most passionate and selfless human beings I had the privilege of knowing. His legacy, as seen in the Singapore film community, and his aspirations for it, will live on."

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