Celebrating creativity and storytelling: Five highlights from the Singapore Media Festival

Last updated: 02 February 2021

Published on: 02 February 2021

By Jill Arul

From smash hits like Korean drama Crash Landing on You to crowd favourite games like Among Us, various forms of media and storytelling have become a beloved staple in our daily lives. With most people staying home, global content consumption in 2020 soared. Now, the average time spent consuming content is close to seven hours a day, double the amount in 2019[1]. As a welcome break from the challenges of 2020, media—social or otherwise—allowed friends and family to connect across households and continents and be entertained in the process. 

Hosted by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), the 2020 Singapore Media Festival celebrated the power of media and the talents of Asian storytellers and creators across five major events. Already in its 7th edition, the festival took place from 26 November to 6 December 2020 in a unique hybrid format emphasising the industry’s resilience in these trying times. 

In case you missed it, check out these five highlights from the 2020 Singapore Media Festival:

1. Honouring outstanding content creators

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A virtual red carpet allowed celebrities to show up and show off in style through a Facebook livestream.

Celebrating the region’s best and brightest media talents and content creators across multiple platforms like television, digital, mobile and streaming, the 2020 Asian Academy Creative Awards, held in a grand 3D virtual theatre took place from 1 to 4 December 2020.

Despite tight competition, host nation Singapore were the biggest winners with a total of nine golden ‘goddesses’. For her performance on HBO’s Invisible Stories, a six-episode anthology drama revealing the lives of marginalised characters, Ms Yeo Yann Yann took home the award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Singapore went on to claim eight more awards across the Lifestyle, Editing and Cinematography categories.

Meanwhile, Crash Landing on You—a record-breaking drama centred around star-crossed lovers caught between South and North Korea—took home the Best Drama Series award, one of South Korea’s four golden goddesses. Finally, Arjo Atayde from the Philippines and the Indonesian remake of Pretty Little Liars each claimed their respective countries’ solitary gold in the Best Actor in a Leading Role and Best Adaption of an Existing Format categories. The full list of winners can be found here.

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Singaporean filmmaker Mr Tan Bee Thiam’s beautifully dystopian film Tiong Bahru Social Club had the honour of opening the 31st Singapore International Film Festival.

2. Singapore’s biggest silver screen celebration

A staple event for film enthusiasts and creatives around the region, the 31st edition of the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) took place via a hybrid format with talks, panels and cinema and online screenings of ground-breaking films from 26 November to 6 December 2020.

Opening the festival was Singapore filmmaker Mr Tan Bee Thiam’s Tiong Bahru Social Club, a Wes Anderson-esque satirical comedy set in a futuristic Singapore where happiness is meticulously calculated.

Award-winning filmmaker Mr Ivan Ayr from India claimed the award for Best Film in the Asian Feature Film category for his film Milestone, a stunning portrayal of the life of an ageing Punjabi truck driver in New Delhi. Meanwhile, Mr Riar Rizaldi’s Tellurian Drama, a docufiction exploring an alternate Indonesian history, claimed Best Southeast Asian Short Film.

“We are pleased to bring the best, most impactful, moving and thought provoking films to the festival, to engage with audiences and the communities at large, because we believe a film festival can play a revitalising role in this unprecedented time,” said SGIFF’s Artistic Director, Ms Kuo Ming-Jung, in an official press release.

3. Taking television to the next level

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In a fireside chat moderated by Channel News Asia presenter Mr Steven Chia, Minister for Communications and Information Mr S Iswaran spoke about the importance of building the necessary infrastructure for a thriving media sector.

Moving completely online for the first time, Asia TV Forum and Market (ATF) 2020 was held from 1 to 4 December 2020 with a slew of activities like conferences, networking and speed dating all taking place on their digital platform, ATF ONLINE+.

Officially opened by the Minister for Communications and Information Mr S Iswaran, the conference saw industry players sharing their insights with attendees across 60 countries. During the ‘Mornings with Industry Leaders’ sessions, decision makers from media, telecoms and entertainment companies like ZEE5 and True Digital Group discussed navigating the tides ahead and staying relevant in a post-COVID world.

Running in tandem with ATF, ScreenSingapore, Southeast Asia’s premier film marketplace, presented four talks with 10 studio leaders across Asia—tackling everything from content buying and workflow connectivity to best practices and changes in the industry. All content will be available on the ATF ONLINE+ platform until 28 February 2021.

4. A crash course on the gaming industry

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Panellists CEO of Mighty Bear Games Mr Simon Davis, Voodoo Asia-Pacific President Mr Julian Corbett, CEO and co-founder of Singapore games publisher goGame Mr David Ng, and Mr Damien Leyris, a senior associate producer at Ubisoft discuss the advantages of setting up regional offices in Singapore.

At gamescom asia’s Singapore Games Market Bootcamp held on 30 November 2020, industry voices were heard in a hybrid event that tackled the gaming industry’s burgeoning ecosystem and Singapore’s role as a hub for the region.

Setting the stage from behind a screen, the first speaker, Mr Guilherme Fernandes from Newzoo shared stunning new market insights on Southeast Asia’s gaming landscape. Notably, he shared that growth in the PC gaming sector this year was likely entirely due to COVID-19.

The final panel of the event saw leaders from Voodoo, goGame, Ubisoft Singapore and Mighty Bear Games discussing Singapore as a regional gaming hub and the reasons developers set up shop here. 

“To really unlock the opportunities of APAC in general and Southeast Asia in particular, we recognise we have to be closer to where the talent is to be able to talk to them,” said Mr Julian Corbett, Asia-Pacific President of mobile game publisher Voodoo, during the panel discussion.

5. Uniting Asia’s gaming community at the SuperGamerFest 2020

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Tel-U Esport from Indonesia puts up a fight at the last match of the Valorant campus regional championship finals.

The final event of the Singapore Media Festival showcased the vibrancy of Southeast Asia gaming and esports scene as hordes of players, viewers and esports professionals came together virtually for the inaugural SuperGamerFest held over two weekends from 5 to 6 December and 11 to 13 December 2020.

Attendees cheered on their local teams in the PVP regional championships of Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB), a multi-player battle arena and Valorant, a multi-player first-person shooter game—all through the livestreams comment section. Proving the prowess of Indonesian gamers, four homegrown teams dominated the competition making it to the Valorant grand finals for both open and campus categories and winning the MLBB regional championships in both categories.

The festival also held the first-ever SuperGameFest Awards. Famed Dota 2 player Mr Daryl “iceiceice” Koh from Singapore was honoured as one of two awarded “Esports Pro Player of the Year.” Meanwhile, taking home the coveted Content Creator of the Year Award was Mr Akosi Dogie, a popular Filipino streamer.


Missed out on the action? Relive the highlights of the Singapore Media Festival here!

[1https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnkoetsier/2020/09/26/global-online-content-consumption-doubled-in-2020/?sh=3817bf9d2fde

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