Singapore: The sixth edition of the Singapore Media Festival (SMF) saw a record breaking attendance of more than 93,000 thought-leaders, media and creative professionals, film and television enthusiasts, and pop culture lovers from all over the world gathered in celebration of Asian storytelling – more than four-fold increase in attendance from last year’s edition.
Hosted by Singapore’s Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA), this year’s three-week long festival successfully closed on 8 December 2019. As one of Asia’s most dynamic and multi-faceted media event, the Festival saw an expansive line-up that included the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF), Asia TV Forum & Market (ATF) and Screen Singapore, Asian Academy Creative Awards (AAA), and for the first time this year, Singapore Comic Con (SGCC). The first VidCon Asia Summit also took place in conjunction with SMF.
This year’s festival saw a strong focus on growing Asian storytelling through initiatives that reflect the “Made-with-Singapore” ethos, where Singapore serves as a gateway for the world and the region – facilitating exchanges, creating partnerships, and enabling regional talent to fulfil their aspirations.
Strengthening the media ecosystem through collaboration
The inaugural Media International Advisory Council (IAC) was launched at SMF by Singapore’s Minister for Communications and Information, Mr S Iswaran, to gather top international industry leaders from the media sector to exchange views and develop insights to the rapidly evolving media landscape. The Council also discussed how policy makers and industry players could work together to increase the vibrancy of the industry in Southeast Asia.
Members at the inaugural meeting on 2 December unanimously agreed that there are significant opportunities in this region – both as a market and as a source of talent. The meeting discussed how Singapore could play a role that is more active and catalytic, as a media hub to support the regional ecosystem, and to develop creative as well as technical talent in the industry. IMDA will be studying and following up on the key ideas that emerged from the deliberations of the Media IAC in order to seize the rising opportunities in Southeast Asia.
- Minister for Communications and Information, Mr S Iswaran, also announced a series of initiatives, spanning across content development, financing, partnerships and programmes to uplift the capabilities of media talent and enhance the vibrancy of Singapore’s media ecosystem, as follows:
- A S$20 million fund set aside by IMDA in a call for international partners to jointly fund media projects in the region and boost financing for television shows, animated features, movies and more. The initiative is the first of its kind in Southeast Asia.
- A series of new partnerships with global media and tech players like CJ ENM Hong Kong, HOOQ, Tencent – VS Media, and Viacom International Media Networks. Facebook will also return as a partner for the Facebook Creator Lab initiative.
- The second call-for-proposals for the Public Service Media Digital Partnership Fund (PDPF).
- A new partnership with mm2 Entertainment to produce a slate of public service content for their new OTT platform mPlay Asia.
- A collaboration with HOOQ for the 2019 run of IMDA’s WritersLab: Script to Screen initiative, which will see 3 scripts from WritersLab 2019 produced into pilot episodes
- HBO Asia joined as a new partner to IMDA’s Story Lab Apprenticeship programme and received an overwhelming response of close to 1,000 applications.
Celebrating the best of Asian storytelling
- Joining SMF for the first time, the Singapore Comic Con (SGCC) enlivened Marina Bay Sands with a celebration of Western and Asian pop culture. Members of the public were treated to a dynamic mix of gaming tournaments, exclusive launches, panel discussions, exhibitions and stalls. More than 55,000 pop culture fans turned up in full force, and warmly welcomed a star-studded guest line-up that included comic creators Greg Capullo, Jock, Andy Kubert, and David Mack, gamers Alodia Gosiengfiao, Topson and Viva La Dirt League.
- The Singapore International Film Festival celebrated its 30th anniversary with a record-breaking attendance of more than 110,000 audiences and 35 sold-out screenings. With more than 90 films by auteurs from 40 countries, this year’s SGIFF presented a dynamic line-up that took the pulse of Asian and international cinema. The 11-day film festival also saw an outstanding line-up of stars and industry heavyweights that included Golden Globe winning actress, Joanne Froggatt; Hollywood’s leading makeup effects artist, Barney Burman; guitarist of iconic Taiwanese rock band, Stone; and distinguished Chinese actress, Yao Chen.
- SGIFF’s Audience Choice Award was awarded to Unteachable by Singaporean filmmaker, Yong Shuling, marking the first time a local film has received this Award since it was introduced in 2015.
- 2019’s Asia TV Forum & Market (ATF) and Screen Singapore saw a record-breaking performance, from attendance to sales transactions on the market floor. Attended by over 5,700 content players from 60 countries and regions, this continued growth against a backdrop of changing times reflects industry confidence in the annual affair. In line with the theme of “Streaming the Future”, there was a huge increase in the number of digital platforms participating at ATF, such as Alibaba Youku, Baidu Haokan, Google Play, Hoichoi, HOOQ, iQIYI, Netflix, Viu and Youtube.
- The ATF Animation, Chinese and Formats Pitches, along with the Southeast Asian Film Financing (SAFF) Project Market, returned this year and named a total of 11 projects as winners. This included the ATF Formats Pitch prize, awarded to game show concept Don’t Block The Numbers by Gamaliel Paulus S. (Indonesia), while two film projects from the Philippines – Golden, a musical comedy produced by Omar Sortijas and Daphne Chiu; as well as science fiction fantasy Indigo Children, produced by Toni Zuniga – emerged top winners at the SAFF Project Market, with two prizes each.
- Singapore made a strong showing at the Asia TV Forum & Market 2019 (ATF), where 80 media companies at the Singapore Pavilion presented over 750 hours of compelling stories from Singapore and Asia, with over 150 film, television and VR titles from a diverse range of genres ranging from animation, drama and horror, to documentaries and scripted formats.
- The Asian Academy Creative Awards (AAA) returned in its second edition, spotlighting the best of Asian content across 40 production and acting categories, over two star-studded award ceremonies with 800 attendees. Myanmar and Vietnam won their first ever golden “Goddess of Creativity” statuettes, while India emerged as big winners, finishing the two award nights with 6 national wins to their credit – this included Netflix series Delhi Crime claiming the Best Drama Series, and Gully Boy, which won the inaugural Best Feature Film. Alongside the Grand Awards & Gala Finals, the Asian Academy Creative Awards (AAA) also hosted a 2-day Regional Winner Conference, where over 280 industry professionals and AAA members were able to network with the regional winners and judges.
- Held alongside SMF, the inaugural VidCon Asia Summit took place in Singapore where over 650 delegates from 200 companies travelled from over 20 countries around the world to participate in the world’s largest celebration of digital video and online creators. Featuring a host of workshops, keynotes, fireside chats, panels with over 60 speakers, attendees heard from creators working across established channels like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, as well as the new emerging platforms such as TikTok.
Media experiences for all
- This year, the SMF Festival Village took over Armenian Street for two weekends with an exciting selection of programmes for everyone to enjoy. Close to 6,000 members of the public got the opportunity to learn about topics such as 360 content creation, media entrepreneurship and various career opportunities in the media sector. With 40 film screenings, 19 workshops, talks and masterclasses, 6 cosplay parades, 4 meet-and-greets, as well as immersive VR showcases, live entertainment, and food, the SMF Festival Village provided an unparalleled media experience for all.