Reflections — Sinema Showoff! Class of 2020 and 2021: First Edition5 min readReading Time: 4 minutes
The first run of the revived Sinema Showoff! finally concluded last week. Four sessions. Two months. About a month and a half of prep before that. And countless fires we had to extinguish along the way. It was madness — but undoubtedly all well worth it.
The aim was clear: we wanted to give youth filmmakers from the graduating classes of 2020 and 2021 opportunities to shine. Why no one else decided to do something similar before is beyond me. But we had the technology, we had the manpower (sort of), and Sinema does have some precedent moulding youth filmmakers so we had to do it.
I think we well-exceeded expectations, especially as far as online film events nowadays go. We launched the Sinema Disco(rd) Club in August and now have over 150 members. We averaged about 20 – 35 participants every session and facilitated a few memorable moments during the Q&As. Right from the first programme, when JD Chua offered to write one of the participating filmmakers a recommendation letter for school, I was sure we were on the right track because moments like that are exactly what we wish for.
And all the films we screened are great too! I’m still amazed how we had the opportunity to share them with the public.
This run of Sinema Showoff! is only the first of many programmes we’re looking to organise for the Class of 2020 and 2021. But before then, I just wanted to do a little victory lap and give thanks.
July 12 2021. We decided, f- it, let’s launch a Discord channel and bring back Sinema Showoff!. We recognised there was a gap that needed to be filled. We had a great team. Celeste was (and continues to be) working miracles with her social media designs and work. Qingru was (and continues to be) a fantastic host for video content and knew all about Discord. I was around. The three of us had little to no experience with film programming but Nicholas (Managing Director) and Ying Tong (Project Manager) were supportive.
Side note: one of the most common follow-up questions I get after sharing that I am with Sinema.SG is “Oh, is there a big team?” (the other being “Oh, but what about your full-time job?”). Nah. It’s a seasonally rotating team of one or two plus myself focused on the website. I’ve seen curational teams that are bigger than our entire operation.
The original plan was eight bimonthly screenings but I’m glad we scaled back. We were already down to two team members at the start. On top of our usual workload of editorial and video content, we were venturing into relatively uncharted territory.
Even now when everything is over, I still have a nagging fear that there must be a reason why no one else has done something like the Sinema Showoff! on a Discord server before; any moment now we’ll be stumbling into a pitfall.
I guess this possibly irrational fear is probably the leading cause of death for countless ideas that could’ve otherwise been industry-changing (not saying ours is).
In all honesty, we didn’t know sh-t when we started out. There was no guide, no film programming mentors. At one point, we had a table full of post-it notes detailing everything we had to do and yet we were still frequently assaulted by the unexpected. What was exhausting wasn’t with the work we had to complete, but with trying to be one step ahead of all the possible blind spots within the unknown, and creating answers to questions we never knew existed.
I feel it would be disingenuous to tout what we did as some massive achievement — it really isn’t, especially when it pales in comparison to the hard work all the films we showcased put in. I’ve been in Singapore’s film and creative space long enough to know that it’s the norm to be forgotten — everything from minor film events to short films and feature-length productions, or even names and what they have accomplished. And that just sucks.
No matter what the future holds for all of us, Sinema Showoff! is our way of remembering and recognising these short films and filmmakers; as long as we’re around, we will remember. It’s the least we can do and all we ever needed to keep moving forward.
Furthermore, if there can only be one takeaway for everyone else from our experience organising the Sinema Showoff!, I hope it is one that transcends this amnesia. I hope it is one example of how even if the unknown seems untraversable, a little grit will go a long way especially when the vision is worth fighting for. You will be surprised, like we were, with how supportive and receptive everyone else is once the first step is taken.
We’re eternally grateful to the lecturers for their unyielding support of the Sinema Showoff!, for entrusting us with their students’ works, and for their tireless work moulding the future of Singapore film: Wesley Leon Aroozoo, Nicole Midori Woodford, Ross Adrian Williams, Gail Goodenough and Atlantis Tay.
Similarly, we want to express our gratitude to all the filmmakers taking time off their busy schedules to join us and for giving us the opportunity to screen their films: Lee Si Min, Glen Michael, Haziq Adam De Silva, Nathaniel Jareth Nonis, Shafna, Lucas Kua, Nguyen Minh Truong Giang, Sherlyn Lee, Hannah Yoong, Josiah Tan, Cheryl Mong, Bernice Ng, Nor Elfiezah Bte Tarmonoh. Filmmakers who were part of the Sinema Showoff! have gone on to become established names and we’re excited to see the same happen to this class.
And, definitely, a huge thank you to everyone who has joined in on the screenings and for making Sinema Showoff! screenings the place to be for the past two months.
We’ll be back.