2017 marked 50 years of bilateral and diplomatic ties between Singapore and Indonesia, and the Singapore Media Festival joined in the commemorations by naming Indonesia as its first Country-of-Focus this year. The new initiative was intended to showcase the quality and variety of creativity originating from the selected country, and to affirm its strong community of creators who continue to push boundaries and explore collaborations, contributing to the bold Asian voice and stories being told to the world. With Indonesia’s media industry going through a period of unprecedented growth, there was no better time to get to know its rich media landscape.

Indonesia led a strong delegation to the Singapore Media Festival for the first time, making its presence felt across the various constituent events, including the Asian Television Awards (ATA), Asia TV Forum & Market (ATF), ScreenSingapore, Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF), and SMF Ignite. There were platforms for seasoned players to take the spotlight, but also room for emerging storytellers to learn, network and grow. Josua Simanjuntak, Deputy Chairman of Marketing for the Indonesian Agency for Creative Economy (BEKRAF), expressed his excitement for Indonesia’s participation in the Festival, as he worked with independent agencies and producers to bring in the best of their market to showcase to the Festival’s global audience. Here are some highlights of their time here:

SGIFF featured 20 Indonesian shorts and feature films in its line-up this year, and these received outstanding support from local audiences. Mouly Surya’s highly-anticipated Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts saw a full-house screening for its Singapore Premiere, with a lively post-show dialogue that reiterated the global interest and relevance of her film. Mouly had also participated in the film festival as a mentor of the Southeast Asian Film Lab, and from her point of view, Southeast Asia is, and will be, the future of cinema.

“Over the past 11 days, I have learnt so much about the Singaporean film industry, as well as that of our neighbouring countries. I think we really need these kind of festivals as it provides a very good hub for people and audiences out there to get to know about Southeast Asia, and I am so glad to be able to encourage it, support it and be part of it this year.”

Mouly-Surya-and-Marsha-TimothyDirector Mouly Surya and actress Marsha Timothy at the post-show dialogue of Marlina The Murderer In Four Acts. Image courtesy of SGIFF

For Fauzan Widni, Marlina producer and Chairman of the Association of Indonesian Film Producers (APROFI), participating in SMF was a chance to find new opportunities in a different market. “I’ve been in Singapore to take part in SGIFF previously, but it is my first time attending the Asia TV Forum & Market. It is different here – with new audiences, producers, buyers, and more at the market, from all over the world – and I am looking forward to learning from this experience.”

At the Silver Screen Awards, Indonesian filmmaker Makbul Mubarak’s short film, The Malediction, was given the Southeast Asian Short Film Special Mention prize by the jury, recognised for the way it captured a sensitive issue like religion and polygamy in a country that abides by tradition. This was encouraging for the young film-critic-turned-filmmaker.

makul-mubarakMakbul Mubarak receiving the Southeast Asian Short Film Special Mention prize at the Silver Screen Awards, from Indonesian actress Marsha Timothy and Singaporean filmmaker K Rajagopal. Image courtesy of SGIFF

Over at ATF, a 120-strong Indonesian contingent took part in the conference and market. The ATF Leaders’ Summit saw a large anticipating crowd for the keynote on The Might of Indonesia, delivered by Indonesian media tycoon, and Founder and Chairman of MNC Group, Mr Hary Tanoesoedibjo. There was also an Indonesian Networking Breakfast organised with the opportunity to meet-up and hear from key media players about Indonesia’s evolving media landscape, and this was attended by close to 300 delegates from around the region.

Hary-TanoesoedibjoFounder & Chairman of MNC Group, Mr. Hary Tanoesoedibjo. Photo courtesy of Asia TV Forum & Market.

Chee Hong Tat(L-R) Senior Minister of State Chee Hong Tat, Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia, His Excellency I Gede Ngurah Swajaya, Mr. Joshua Simanjuntak, Deputy Chairman of Marketing, Indonesian Agency for Creative Economy and the Indonesian delegation at the ATF Spotlight on Indonesia Lounge. Photo courtesy of Singapore Media Festival.

One key signing that took place at the dedicated Indonesian Lounge within the ATF market was the signing of an MOU between the Southeast Asian Audio Visual Associations (SAAVA) and the Badan Perfilman Indonesia (BPI), forming a strategic alliance to create an inter-regional creative producing and media investment network, jointly promoting the film entertainment, digital content and media production industries in Indonesia and across Southeast Asia. The MOU was signed between Chan Gin Kai, President of SAAVA, and Chand Parwez, Chairman of BPI. For Parwez, this was a milestone in celebrating and reiterating Indonesia and Singapore’s long history in cinema, and an opportunity to “build a strong platform for next generations of Indonesian, Singaporean and Southeast Asian filmmakers”.

Chan Gin Kai-and-Chand Parwez (L-R) Chan Gin Kai, President of SAAVA and Mr. Chand Parwez, Chairman of BPI. Photo courtesy of Asia TV Forum & Market.

Up-and-coming Indonesian creators were recognised during the Festival, with Gamaliel Paulus (Gammy) winning a closely contested fight between five finalists at the ATF Formats Pitch for his original format, Ranking, while producers Allen Jordan and Delon Tio were awarded for their film project The Hunted, which had topped 15 finalist projects at the Southeast Asian Film Financing (SAFF) Project Market. Their prizes would each help these producers further develop and see their projects to fruition.

Pitch prize presentation ceremony(L-R) Spruce Leong, Mediacorp; Amreet Chahal, all3media International; Janine Stein, Content Asia; Stephen Lambert, Studio Lambert; Gamaliel Paulus (Gammy), Winner of ATF Formats Pitch 2017; Rachel Glaister , EVP Brands & Press(inc Marketing), all3media International and Alan Hodges, A+E Networks at the ATF Formats Pitch prize presentation ceremony. Photo courtesy of Asia TV Forum & Market.

Over at the inaugural Creators X SMF Ignite – a two-day storytelling and content marketing workshop for digital content creators – Indonesian creators/YouTubers Bangpen (@bangpen) and Boim and Andrew (@crackanegg) joined local creators in a cross-exchange of ideas, experiences and perspectives. It was a valuable experience for Bangpen, who wanted to use this opportunity to establish connections with other creators around the region. Faced with the constant challenge of delivering new content ideas, Boim and Andrew also shared that their experience here helped them to better understand the market and be attuned to what audiences want.

Local and international content creatorsLocal and international content creators at SMF Ignite. Photo courtesy of Singapore Media Festival.

Indonesian content creators(L-R) Indonesian content creators Bangpen (@bangpen) and Boim & Andrew (@crack an egg). Photo courtesy of Singapore Media Festival.

All in, it had been a fruitful fortnight for this gem of the Southeast Asian media market. For someone who has grown with the industry for more than 20 years, Indonesian film producer and SMF Advisory Board member Shanty Harmayn’s biggest joy was seeing the younger generation participating actively and seizing opportunities at the Singapore Media Festival – be it through their film projects, fresh partnerships, or winning ideas.

“I’ve always believed in building relationships in both the industry and the region,” she said, “and it is heartening to know that the relationships cultivated at SMF 2017, be they long-standing or new ones, will continue to thrive with this new generation.”

Shanty HarmaynVeteran Indonesian film producer Shanty Harmayn at the SMF Singapore Party 2017. Photo courtesy of the Singapore Media Festival.

Indonesian delegatesAmbassador of the Republic of Indonesia, His Excellency I Gede Ngurah Swajaya, Shanty Harmayn and Indonesian delegates at the SMF Singapore Party 2017. Photo courtesy of the Singapore Media Festival.