NEWS: Singaporean Film Biz Builds Bright Future
Increasingly, they are winning prizes at international festivals. A Land Imagined won the Golden Leopard in Locarno last year, while 18 months earlier Pop Aye and its helmer/screenwriter Kirsten Tan won the screenwriting prize in the world cinema section at Sundance. In 2013, Anthony Chen won the Camera d’Or for best first feature at Cannes with bittersweet drama Ilo Ilo.
These and a swelling number of Singaporean productions reflect several years of government attempts to support the film industry. Emphasis has variously been put on Singapore as an Asian funding hub, a co-productions nexus and as a shooting location.
Film funds were set up that ended up in tears and loss — and jail time for one former partner. Since then grants have replaced co-investment. And dubious outreach to China — which shares some linguistic overlap, but is a vastly different market — has been quietly sidelined.
What has paid off, however, is persistence. While some duds can be considered as priming the pump, discretionary funding committees at the InfoComm Media Development Authority are now reported to be increasingly picky.
“While films have been made in Singapore since the 1920s, the marketability and global doors have opened only in the last few years,” says Sreyashi Sen, managing director at Singapore-based producer, distributor and sales agent Darpan. “The efforts to do so are commendable from Singapore government and companies.”
Photo Credit: Variety