The Singapore International Film Festival, which ended its 11-day run yesterday, drew 12,000 visitors. This was 20 per cent more than last year's attendance of 10,000 festivalgoers.
The festival, founded in 1987, returned last year after a three-year hiatus. This is the second year that it is run by a new team led by executive director Yuni Hadi and festival director Zhang Wenjie.
Ms Hadi said: "Through this year's festival, it is evident that pride and interest in independent cinema is growing and that is what we hope to continue to encourage in the years to come."
The audience chose Sailing A Sinking Sea (2015) by Olivia Wyatt as their favourite feature film in the inaugural Audience Choice Awards.
It was screened at the closing of the festival, along with Silver Screen Awards winners The Fourth Direction (2015, Best Asian Feature Film), The Fox Exploits The Tiger's Might (2015, Best South-east Asian Short Film) and My Father After Dinner (2015, Best Singapore Short Film).
Of the 146 films shown this year, there were 14 sell-out screenings, of which five were Singapore films. Among them was Eric Khoo's In The Room (2015), which was not given a classification by the Media Development Authority. It premiered at the festival last Tuesday, but will not be released commercially here. The screening of Khoo's Mee Pok Man (1995) was also sold out.
Director Khoo said: "This is the most emotional Singapore International Film Festival I've attended because my first feature Mee Pok Man is screened here, restored by the Asian Film Archive, and my latest film, In The Room, is also screened - uncut. And my son Edward's short film is in the competition where I started back in 1991."
Besides film screenings, the festival also held post-screening talks and masterclasses with acclaimed film-makers.
An honorary award was presented to exiled Iranian film-maker Mohsen Makhmalbaf. Six of his works were screened in tribute at this year's festival.
The festival also handed out its first Cinema Legend Award to Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh.
Other notable names who attended the festival included British actor Dev Patel of Slumdog Millionaire (2008) fame and veteran Hong Kong producer Terence Chang, who produced blockbusters such as Face/Off (1997) and Mission: Impossible II (2000).