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100 SECONDS ON THE RED SOFA: MINDS Film Festival

8 January 2020

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100 SECONDS ON THE RED SOFA: MINDS Film Festival

MINDS is one of Singapore’s oldest and largest social service agencies looking after the different life stages of persons with intellectual disability. Challenged to raise further public awareness and support for their cause, Kevin Chew, Director of Social Enterprises and Employment Development at MINDS, was among the first in the management team to suggest the creation of a film festival. 

Growing up in a family of avid film-goers, Kevin felt that film was a good fit to reach this goal. He explains with excitement, “I think film has that very magical quality in which it draws you in, it engages you and makes you laugh, it makes you cry, it makes you feel for the protagonist, it makes you feel for the story… it can change your viewpoint in perspective and your viewpoint in life.”

With its inaugural edition held in 2016, the MINDS Film Festival aims to use the medium of film to raise awareness and understanding of persons with intellectual disability amongst the wider community. 

From American drama The Peanut Butter Falcon to Spanish comedy Campeones, MINDS Film Festival 2020, with organising partner Singapore Film Society, will boast another international offering of films, all centred around tackling the issues faced by the special needs community. For the first time ever, this year will see the festival host community screenings right in the heart of two neighbourhoods – Tampines and Yishun – with Malaysian film Redha as the showcase. 

Kevin, who is part of MINDS Film Festival’s organising team, sees the festival as an important way to keep the organisation updated. While he believes that the older generation is familiar with the organisation, he stresses that subsequent generations need to continue to be aware and involved with supporting persons with intellectual disability, who are “amongst the most invisible in our society.”

With Singapore having one of the largest cinema-going audiences in the world, the meeting of the two worlds was a natural fit. 

The overall response to the MINDS Film Festival has been heartening for Kevin. He shares, “I think that it is amazing that almost every movie [in the festival] has always sold out, and I think the amount of media coverage we get as well more than justifies the cost of what it is to run the film festival. So I think overall, if I look at the different matrices, it is achieving what it is meant to be.” 

In working towards achieving their goal, Kevin recalls the “very laborious effort” by the team in picking the movies to be screened. Each year sees them scour the world for not just movies that are attuned to the festival’s theme, but also their overall quality. Kevin explains, “I think in running a film festival of this nature, you really have to feel for it; you have to be authentic about it, and you really want to show quality films on the related themes that would otherwise not be screened at all.”

Furthermore, Kevin believes that this attitude towards the curation will encourage a “more quality driven and diverse audience in Singapore who appreciates good films not just for its snazzy marketing, or for certain genres like action, and to go beyond that.” He hopes that this will play a part in Singapore’s nascent state of film industry development – all while bringing social consciousness into the sector. 

Kevin hopes that the public can see the film festival as a “transformative journey,” coming out after its selection of films more in touch with their more compassionate, tolerant, and open side to learn to be more accepting.

“Persons with intellectual disability are not invisible. They have needs just like us, they have desires just like us, they are normal as we are. They are not crazy as sometimes people think they are or violent like sometimes people think they are. So I think, really, a bit of understanding, a bit more care, a bit more compassion bodes well for a much more open and tolerant society going forward.” 

Tickets to the MINDS Film Festival 2020, held from 15 – 19 January, are now on sale at the Shaw Theatres box office and the Shaw website. This year’s edition will be offering the Asian and Singapore premieres of six international selections: The Peanut Butter Falcon; Distinction《非同凡响》; Champions (Campeones); My Brother Chases Dinosaurs (Mio fratello rincorre i dinosauri); and Innocent Witness 증인. 

Additionally, the festival will be hosting its free community screenings of Malaysian film Redha on 10 January at Tampines Hub, and 11 January at Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre at Yishun.

Find out more about the MINDS Film Festival through their official website and follow the festival on their Facebook page.


About 100 Seconds On The Red Sofa

100 Seconds On The Red Sofa shines the spotlight on movers and shakers in the Singapore film and media scene, with each episode featuring people that are making waves and contributing to the industry’s growth and enrichment.

The Red Sofa has come a long way and has a rich history, dating all the way back to Sinema Old School in 2007. It’s seen a generation of young local filmmakers come into their own; now we’re dusting it off for another round.

There's nothing Matt loves more than "so bad, they're good" movies. Except browsing through crates of vinyl records. And Mexican food.
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