We need SIFF more than it needs us

The 21st edition of the Singapore International Film Festival (SIFF) starts next week. For an independently run and curated film festival to reach its 21st edition is amazing. Even more amazing is what it has done for Singaporeans over the years.
Last year, SIFF’s finances were in dire straits and whether it could make it to the 21st edition was in doubt. When we knew SIFF was having difficulty fundraising, a group of us media professionals came together to help. One of the initiatives was to write a letter to the Singapore Film Commission (SFC) and the Media Development Authority (MDA) to persuade them to increase the funding for SIFF.

Our letter didn’t have much of an effect. Our request to meet them was alas not taken up because it “was not necessary”. The SFC/MDA has made very clear that it is not interested in an independently curated film festival like SIFF. For the 2008 edition, the Singapore Film Commission (SFC) gave SIFF $65,000 (US$40,000).

Still SIFF managed to haul itself out and is now presenting the 21st edition to us, starting on the 4 April with the help of a few individuals, some of whom have been working for the festival for many years.
Everyone, please do not take your independent arts institutions for granted. Please donate, volunteer and support your own festival because if you don’t, no one else will.

Send your cheque addressed to “Singapore International Film Festival Ltd”
Film Festival Secretariat
LASALLE College of the Arts
1 McNally Street #B2-17 (E Block)
Singapore 187940
Tel: 6738 7567 / 6496 5327
Your donations enjoy a double tax exemption status

Here is the full text of the letter we wrote to SFC . Written in November 2007, it was addressed to Mr Man Shu Shum who has since left the position Continue reading

ISEAS screening Wed, 26 Mar 3pm

IC 513 photo.jpg
From ISEAS’ programme notes for the screening
“As its name implies, this documentary is about a Singapore that remains invisible, pointing to national consciousness as a fragmented reality with critical bits ignored or demonised. Turning a sharp eye on the subject of memory, the film takes its audience to meet some engaging people struggling to leave a mark before they and their histories disappear: an aging film maker fighting valiantly against time and fading memory to catalogue his treasure trove of rare old footage of the island; an aggrieved student activist from the 1950s wanting to set the record straight for history; etc. In turn poignant, indignant and thought-provoking, the film invites debate about how the past can be remembered and history written, objectively, without fear or favour.”

Invisible City is the second film funded by the ISEAS

A Q&A with the film-maker will follow the screening chaired by ISEAS Fellow Dr Hui Yew-Foong.

Date: Wednesday, 26 March 2008
Time: 3.00 pm to 5.00 pm
Venue: ISEAS Seminar Room II

Please complete the attached Reply Form and return by fax: 6775-6264/6775-6259 to the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies or email: betty@iseas.edu.sg. For further enquiries, please call Betty at Tel: 6870-2472/6778-0955.


le Prix international de la Scam at the Cinema du Reel

The Citation: A witty, intellectually challenging essay on history and memory as tools of civil resistance
Scam? Its a good name for a prize isn’t it?

Its société civile des auteurs multimédia, en dehors de son rôle de gestion, a pour mission de défendre la création audiovisuelle ex aequo.

Invisible to whom?

I am often asked about the reception of Invisible City overseas, They are curious if Invisible may be perceived differently from a Singaporean audience. Recently it was shown in Spain, at the Punto de Vista Festival. I received and email for an interview. The questions give you a flavour of the issues Invisible raises for a journalist from a country far removed from ours:

Hello Pin Pin
– How do you like to introduce yourself? As a filmmaker or as an artist?
– Why do you prefer, as a filmmaker, the documentary cinema?
– Why did you choose a digital format?
– Although in “Singapore GaGa” the City already acquired protagonist, in “Invisible City” the stories create the emerging of an another vision of the history of the island. Which was the point to begin with?
– At a specific moment, an archaeologist claims that if the camera were not present, its discovery would not exist. Do you think that the televising and cinematographic image today is considered as the only source of veracity?
– Morally, are we forced to recover and to protect politician, social and cultural past?
– Forgetting seems one of the blights of our society. Who are the guilty ones of this situation? Are the institutions? Are the mass media? Are Us?
– When Mr Han talks to the students about his past as activist, they seem not to understand the meaning of their story showing the lack of interest.
– Since its premiere in Pusan, which is the attitud of the public and critic towards the film?
. “Invisible City” is part of the Asian Network of Documentary program. Which is the situation of the documentary cinema in Asia?
– The case of the new Film Act in Thailand and the actions of the Free Thai Cinema Movement impelled by Apichatpong Weerasethakul are significant. Which is the situation of the censorship in Singapur?
– Which are, in your opinion, your influences at the time of filming your short movies and movies?
– Which are your future projects?

Invisible is reviewed in Spanish here

Invisible in france

Invisible City is screening at Cinema du Reel, in Seoul at Indiespace and at Busan Cinemateque these two weeks. I am unable to attend the screenings. Marie Pierre Duhamel, the director for Cinema du Reel heaved and said that I was the first director to her knowledge who has a film in competition who isn’t present at her own film’s French premiere, she sounded indignant and full of regret. So I am spiritually in France now trying to decipher the French reception of the movie. I came across this review, and using Google’s translator I got this…

If Fronterismo of the young Sofie Benoot ignores all its promises – were missing in the script elements of a purely technical nature of this situation Mexican border it is perhaps not too late to introduce to the rest of his excellent work would read better – Invisible City of Singaporean Tan Pin Pin, on the contrary, showed a mastery didactic. The director convenes in front of his camera archaeologists, journalists, photographers, witnesses to try, not to give substance to a Singapore of the past, but to talk about the challenges and difficulties of such a refund. Characters out of breath say the urgency, the need to transmit anthropological, the duty of truth despite the censorship But also the challenge of trade.

Invisible City has a life of its own now and I can’t keep up with it

SIFF Delights

The new section Singapore Panorama features new Singapore Films. Many documentaries amongst them, catch Diminishing Memories 2, Keronchong For Pak Bakar, Boom Town Beijing, Women who love women and of course Lucky 7 and Homeless FC. There are so many films from such a diverse group of directors and on such a diverse set of topics. A reason to celebrate, that we have enough movies to fill a whole section in a film festival! The screenings are all in Sinema Old School which everyone should check out, its a cool space!

Full list here