Viva la revolution?
Can a website spark an entire revolution in local filmmaking?
On a mission to get Singaporeans to watch “real” films, sgNewWave follows in the footsteps of Cahiers du Cinema, the magazine that eventually inspired the French New Wave in the 1950s. Run by 75 dedicated film enthusiasts from the Ngee Ann Polytechnicâ€™s School of Film Sound and Video (FSV), sgNewWave is a website with film reviews, commentaries and interviews with industry veterans.
â€œSingapore audiences don’t support our local films,â€ lamented an FSV student at the launch of the website on December 1. The concern is that while everybody flocks to see the new Bond movie, not enough people are watching, let alone supporting, local productions like 15 and Singapore Dreaming.
The issue was big enough of a bugbear for these students to get together and do something about it. Theyâ€™ve gone so far as to declare that sgNewWave will eventually shape the movement of film culture of Singapore.
But is sgNewWave doing enough? Will the website and others like it (Sinema included) encourage a larger audience to think critically about film and support our local movies?
After all, the concept of sgNewWave is not a new one. Magazines, blogs, local dailies and movie forums already dissect films, even local ones, to death.
Thatâ€™s not to say that sgNewWave wonâ€™t have an impact on the film community in Singapore. Already the site has a headstart with solid critiques and a dedicated team of film-trained students, which gives it a lot of potential to become something really spectacular.
But for sites like sgNewWave and Sinema to make some real change, they also have to stop preaching to the choir. It wonâ€™t make much of a difference if the people who visit sgNewWave are their peers and lecturers from FSV, and a sprinkling of casual moviegoers who might (or might not) recognise the significance of the title Cahiers du Cinema.
The launch of sgNewWave was a great big leap from an idea to a tangible creation (kudos to that!), but we can all afford to take it a few notches up. Explore new and untried marketing approaches to win over new readers who didnâ€™t realise how much they did or could enjoy film. Work more closely with film programmers and local independent theatres to bring new experiences in filmmaking and film appreciation to Singapore.
Ultimately the message has to reach beyond the usual suspects, to help create a wider, sustainable audience that will make, watch and simply enjoy a greater variety of films than what we already see in Singapore. That young people like the 75 sgNewWavers have the passion and energy to create a site of their own is an encouraging start. That the conversation about film grows, deepens and draws in more people — is something we all work towards.