If we’re not telling our stories,
Photo courtesy of SGIFF
Wahyuni Hadi is a film producer, author and curator specialising in the management of film and media projects. Hadi’s ties with the Festival and the Singapore arts scene go back a long way – in 2009, she was Festival Director of the 22nd instalment of SGIFF after serving as Festival Manager in 2008. She is also co-founder of the independent film distribution label Objectifs Films and was a senior programmer at The Substation. Hadi was awarded the Eisenhower Fellowship 2016 and selected as the 2016 United Technologies Corporation Fellow. She sits on the Board of The Substation, Objectifs Centre for Photography & Film and *SCAPE.
Singapore International Film Festival according to SGIFF Executive Director, Wahyuni Hadi.
Nearly three decades since it was founded in 1987, the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) will soon be returning with its 27th instalment of film screenings, film competitions, masterclasses and more. The longest-running international film event in Southeast Asia has grown to be a highly regarded one amongst the film community. Beyond that, the SGIFF continues to inspire the discovery of independent cinema by providing a platform for established and aspiring filmmakers alike to showcase their films and tell the region’s story.
In anticipation of the upcoming festival, we speak with Wahyuni Hadi – Executive Director of the SGIFF – and got her to share five things you should know!
#1 SGIFF is… A champion for SEA cinema since 1987
“Southeast Asian cinema has always been a big part of SGIFF since the beginning when there was very little recognition and support for cinema from this region. SGIFF has played an important part in its growth, development and recognition within our own countries as well as helping it gain momentum internationally. It’s always inspiring when we come across innovative and sincere works that move us.”
How does the team scout for independent films/filmmakers?
“Apart from receiving entries through open call submissions, there’s always a healthy exchange of ideas within Southeast Asia where we find out about new upcoming works and filmmakers. It’s the spirit of camaraderie and our shared love for cinema that keeps the wheels running. ”
#2 SGIFF is… where the Indie gather
“With our competition and developmental programmes focused on nurturing the voices and stories of Southeast Asia, we continue to be a discovery ground and connection platform for independent films internationally. It is more important now than ever and since our rebirth in 2014, we have been even more committed to it, bringing together creators, thinkers, critics and audiences alike. Because if we are not telling our stories, who will?”
Who are some filmmakers discovered through SGIFF?
“One example of a regional filmmaker recognised at the SGIFF is Malaysian filmmaker, Bradley Liew. Bradley’s debut feature film, Singing in Graveyards, which won the ‘Most Promising Project’ award at the 2014 SGIFF Southeast Asian Film Lab, will be making a world premiere in competition at the 2016 Venice International Film Festival (Critics’ Week). Most recently, well-known alumni of SGIFF Boo Junfeng and K. Rajagopal – both of whom have had winning short films at past editions of SGIFF – premiered their respective feature films (Apprentice and A Yellow Bird) at Cannes Film Festival. As with each edition of the festival, we look forward to giving recognition to regional film talents and allowing them a platform to showcase their works at the upcoming 2016 SGIFF.”
The most number of films the SGIFF team watched in a day is 10! With each film averaging at 90 minutes each, that means 15 hours of film-watching in a day.
#3 SGIFF is… celebrating our differences
“Southeast Asian stories and cultures are so similar yet different. We feel so close yet far apart. Our vision is to celebrate this diversity, create a better understanding through our stories and dialogue, and bring together content makers for collaboration and friendship.”
What is an example of a film that depicts these stories?
An interesting example of filmmakers from other countries tapping into the stories of Southeast Asia is Sailing a Sinking Sea, a documentary on the Mokens – a stateless seafaring community living between Thailand and Myanmar – which won the Audience Choice Award last year .The film is directed by Olivia Wyatt, a filmmaker from USA. It’s amazing to witness the depth of her portrait of a minor community in Southeast Asia, just as we appreciate the way she brings in her own perspective, outlook and aesthetics in the framing of Southeast Asian life.
#4 SGIFF is… a chance to meet cinema idols!
“With the fast development in technology where people can get films on the go, the place of film festivals is always questioned. But at SGIFF we believe that creators and artists need a place to connect and will always do so. That face to face, those late night post-screening discussions, that celebration of works that require thinking and reflection, meeting of cinema idols - these are seeds for new ideas, and serve as inspiration for young artists. For people need connection and we are committed to playing that role to the film community of Southeast Asia and Singapore.”
Is SGIFF more than just film?
“We aim to create an atmosphere where festival-goers are not just watching films, but are immersed in many other activities. A place to meet, to talk about films, its relation to life, and most importantly, to build new friendships and connections. Whether it is mingling with the filmmakers after screenings or hanging out at the festival lounge, we hope for festival-goers to discover lots of spontaneous encounters within and beyond the cinema halls.”
#5 SGIFF is… paving the future for SEA cinema
“Programmes like our Southeast Asian short film competition, Southeast Asian Film Lab and Youth Jury & Critics programme serve as our investment to the future of cinema culture. This year we have also started our first commission of a Singapore short film from our Singapore short film winner. Our role is to continue to create understanding of Southeast Asian cinema to our region and also the rest of the world. We want you to be on that journey with us.”
QUICK FACTS ABOUT SGIFF
The SGIFF team. Photo courtesy of SGIFF.