Friday, November 28, 2014

The Inaugural Singapore Media Festival - A Celebration of Asian Film and TV

After a two-year hiatus, the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) returns this year with a showcase of a total of 147 films from 50 countries.

SGIFF's comeback heralds a glorious celebration of cinema, together with three other industry-related film and TV events, namely the Asian Television Forum (ATF), Screen Singapore and Asian TV Awards (ATA).

All four events will be held at Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre in December 2014, under the umbrella of Singapore Media Festival, the first of its kind hosted by the Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA).

Epy Quizon in "Unlucky Plaza"
For its 25th anniversary this year, SGIFF kicks off SMF on 4 December with a Singapore film by Ken Kwek entitled "Unlucky Plaza". The black comedy, which is oddly enough based on a true story, stars Filipino actor Epy Quizon in the lead role and features other familiar celebrities like Adrian Pang, Shane Mardjuki, Pamela Oei and Guo Liang.

Watch the trailer below:

UNLUCKY PLAZA - A Ken Kwek film - New Trailer from Unlucky Plaza on Vimeo.

The festival's screenings will be held at multiple locations including Shaw Theatres Lido, Marina Bay Sands, National Museum of Singapore, The Projector and The Arts House from 4 to 14 December.

And guess who will be walking down the red carpet at SGIFF?? This announcement will make most action movie fans SQUEE!! ........ Are you ready?

Acclaimed Hong Kong director John Woo (yes, he of the fluttering doves and slo-mo shots in elaborate action sequences) will be here for the red carpet screening of "The Crossing" together with actress Zhang Ziyi, who also stars in the film. If you haven't got tickets to the movie, too bad. They have already been sold out. John Woo will also be holding a Masterclass for the public on 5 December.

Then, there's the luminous Juliette Binoche, who will be here for the Singaporean premiere of Olivier Assayas’ "Clouds of Sils Maria (Sils Maria)". Unfortunately, tickets for the screening of this film have also been snapped up.

Veteran screen star of Chinese films Chen Pei Pei, whose film "Lilting" is also one of the many screened at SGIFF, will be attending the Silver Screen Awards on December 13. She will be giving a tribute to the late Sir Run Run Shaw, who founded Shaw Brothers Studio and TVB.

The directors and cast members of the opening and closing films of SGIFF, "Unlucky Plaza" and Indonesian-made "In the Absence of the Sun" will also be attending the respective red carpet events on December 4 and December 14 respectively.

For those who are more interested in obtaining tips and information from industry players, the ATF and market and Screen Singapore is the place to be. One of the keynote speakers is James Wang Zhonglei, President of Huayi Brothers Media Corporation. Huayi Brothers is one of China's most influential entertainment and media companies, and have spearheaded deals with a broad spectrum of platforms like online gaming and a theme park which opened last June. As for pop-culture fans, two of the ATF/ Screen Singapore guest speakers who may be familiar are Academy Award and Golden Globe Award winner, producer Jon Landau and HBO's "Game of Thrones" storyboard artist, Will Simpson.

And just before the SMF wraps up on 12 December, there will be a gala ceremony announcing the winners for the 19th Asian Television Awards. This year's awards attracted a total of 1,371 entires across 14 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, which was a 10% increase in the number of entries compared to the year before.

Recently, Red Dot Diva attended a media briefing for SMF featuring high profile panelists from the media industry:

- Robert Gilby, Chairman of SMF advisory board and Managing Director of the Walt Disney Company (SEA)
- Angeline Poh, Assistant Chief Executive (Industry), Media Development Authority
- Michelle Lim, Managing Director of Reed Exhibitions Singapore and Malaysia
- Mike Wiluan, Chairman, Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) and Chief Executive of Infinite Studios
- Raymond Wong, Chairman, Asian Television Awards (ATA) and CEO of Contineo Media

All of them seemed confidently positive about how the SMF platform will help provide more opportunities for cross-over collaborations as well as bring the local and regional content into the limelight to international industry players.

Ms. Angeline Poh said, "Being both an Asian and a cosmopolitan city, media companies and talent in Singapore are able to blend their understanding of Asian cultures and Western sensibilities, to create and present compelling stories that resonate with audiences in and beyond Asia."

She also said that international brands, like HBO and Disney, have benefited from such collaborations with Singapore-based companies like Infinite Studios and InFocus Asia, and mentioned about two Hollywood movies which have chosen to film here this year - "Agent 47" and "Equals". In addition, MDA was very excited to have more than 170 talent involved with this shoots as well as see local VFX and post-production companies coming into play. For example, the Double Negative Singapore was involved fully with the VFX of both Parts 1 and 2 of "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay". And if you have watched Part 1, the movie looked pretty awesome, right? Singapore represent!

The happy and excited looking panelists at the SMF media briefing

When discussing about ATF/ Screen Singapore, Ms. Michelle Lim of Reed Exhibitions said, "This year, we expect the show to be bigger, and we will be seeing 5,000 attendees from 60 countries. We expect to be market to be bigger with representation from China, Japan, South Korea, India, Thailand and also developing markets like Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar. In fact, this year, 1/3 of the buyers are new and some are coming to this market for the very first time. For example, buyers from Bangladesh, Finland, Nepal and Poland."

Mr Robert Gilby of Disney added, "The world's attention is increasingly driven to this region for innovative and original stories. Look at some of the recent successes in film. From South-east Asia, includes "The Journey" from Malaysia, which topped this year's Malaysian box office. An Indonesia, "The Raid: Redemption" which was distributed by Sony Pictures Classic was a box-office hit in the U.S. and Indonesia, and the U.S. remake is in the works."

"This brings us back to the importance of the SMF which provides a platform to benefit not only Singapore, but also the rest of the region."

A summary rundown of the events at SMF again:

SGIFF: 4 to 14 December, various locations

ATF and Market: 9 - 12 December

Screen Singapore: 9 - 12 December

Asian TV Awards: 11 December

With December being a more dreary and rainier season for local residents, the inauguration of SMF is like a ray of sunshine for lovers of film and TV. Here's to a vibrant and successful SMF that will continue to bring the industry and fans together for many years to come!

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