Festival goers and industry luminaries paid homage to South East Asian regional storytelling Wednesday night, as the 27th edition of the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) kicked off with a star-studded affair at the Marina Bay Sands.
“Sometimes as a small country, it’s very easy to be overshadowed by others, but Singapore has been very steadfast in promoting great talents over the years,” said Mike Wiluan, chairman of SGIFF. “It’s really amazing to see how Singapore’s become a center to promote SE Asian film, as well as promoting the more diverse and the more interesting.”
In what has become something of a festival tradition, Wiluan’s freewheeling opening address included attempts to get audience members to guess his alcohol intake for the night. The Infinite Frameworks CEO was joined on stage by renowned actress and guest of honor, Michelle Yeoh (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”.)
In attendance on the red carpet were the cast of the opening film “Interchange,” French-Vietnamese director Tran Anh Hung (“Norwegian Wood”,) as well as South Korean television star, Lee Sang-Woo.
Local industry stalwarts, directors Eric Khoo and Royston Tan, as well as television actress Felicia Chin also trod the red carpet.
Earlier in the afternoon, the Singapore Media Festival (SMF) was opened by Gabriel Lim, CEO of Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA), the newly formed successor organisation to the MDA.
“We have an industry development plan called Ignite which we are rolling out in full force, we have story telling labs and workshops and we are investing in new capabilities such as manpower facilities like the PIXEL studios opening next week,” said Lim.
The festival also hyped its new digital event, SMF Ignite, a forum for online content creators, long-targeted by the authorities as a growth sector for the city state.
“SMF Ignite and Gaming Matters are two new events that bring together the future of media, online content, gaming and the games talent that are in the industry,” said Rob Gilby, chairman of the SMF advisory board and managing director of the Walt Disney Company (SEA).
Also announced at the SMF opening was an initiative with online entertainment portal Viddsee to create a web-only Singapore Film Channel, which will launch with 30 locally-produced short films. The partnership will also see Viddsee commissioning its first original short film by a Singaporean filmmaker.