Film Fest to make comeback next year

This story was first published in The Straits Times on Dec 5, 2013

THE Singapore International Film Festival will be revived as part of a bigger film and television showcase at the end of next year.

The festival and its attendant Silver Screen Awards will be held in the same week as the Asia TV Forum & Market (ATF) and ScreenSingapore, both trade and conference events, and the Asian Television Awards.

Industry players cheered the return of the independent festival, now called SGIFF, under a new board and director, Ms Yuni Hadi. It has not been held since 2011 due to financial and personnel woes.

Its comeback was announced by Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim at the opening ceremony of this year's ATF and ScreenSingapore at Marina Bay Sands yesterday.

Putting the four events in one week-long showcase will "form a larger-scale and multifaceted event that will provide more benefits to regional and international trade participants", he said.

He gave the example of how, when ATF was paired with ScreenSingapore for the first time last year, some US$204 million (S$256 million) in film and TV sales were sealed - an 8.5 per cent jump over 2011.

ATF and ScreenSingapore are organised by Reed Exhibitions. The Asian Television Awards, held since 1995, is on tonight at Resorts World Sentosa and is organised by Contineo Media.

SGIFF is now led by a new board headed by Ms Shaw Soo Wei, the former executive director for the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society.

Ms Yuni, 37, the festival director for next year, is a producer on the critically acclaimed film Ilo Ilo. She is also a former co-director of the festival.

She is keen to expand its audience. To that end, she said: "We want to have a strong online presence... Festivals around the world are relooking at their strategies and we have to as well."

Thus far, the festival has garnered the support of Marina Bay Sands, which has donated $300,000, as well as the Media Development Authority (MDA).

The MDA's assistant chief executive officer Yeo Chun Cheng pointed out that increasingly, the divide between film and TV is blurring and to netizens, they are all audiovisual content.

Hence, it made sense to put all four industry events in the same week, he said. However they will continue to be organised separately to retain their own strengths, he added.

Activities at ATF and ScreenSingapore, on until tomorrow, include conferences, networking events and premieres. A red carpet world premiere of Hong Kong action film Firestorm, starring Andy Lau, took place last night.

This is the 14th edition of ATF and the third edition of ScreenSingapore. Over 4,000 attendees from 60 countries are expected.

Film-maker Wee Li Lin, 40, welcomed the return of the SGIFF. Tying it to the umbrella showcase is a "smart choice" because it can piggyback on the presence of international industry players and press attending the other components, she added.

This story was first published in The Straits Times on Dec 5, 2013

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