Singapore: The sixth edition of the Singapore Media Festival (SMF) returns with an expanded line-up and a strong spotlight on propelling the voices of Asian talent. This year’s festival will see wider offerings for both industry players and the public alike – across film, television, comics and popular culture, digital video content, VR and AR technology, and more – with new avenues for emerging players and talent to be part of the region’s vibrant ecosystem.
Over 50,000 thought-leaders, creative professionals, and members of the public from Asia and around the world are expected to be part of the festival this year, more than double the number last year.
Robert Gilby, Chairman of the SMF Advisory Board, said, “There is a rising wave of Asian creativity driving growth opportunities in the media sector, as global players look to tap the stories and market in this region. The Singapore Media Festival plays an important role in bringing together the best of Asian content and talent across different formats, genres and platforms, to create potential for creative, collaborative and commercial partnerships to happen. We look forward to taking the future of Asian storytelling forward together.”
Hosted by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), the Singapore Media Festival will take place from 21 November to 8 December 2019, and consists of the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF), Asia TV Forum & Market (ATF) and ScreenSingapore (SS), Asian Academy Creative Awards (AAA), and this year’s new addition, Singapore Comic Con (SGCC). The two-day VidCon Asia Summit will also be held in conjunction with SMF.
SPURRING LOCAL AND REGIONAL CREATORS
This year, SMF offers new programmes and enhanced platforms to propel the voices of rising media talent and content creators, taking their stories to a bigger stage.
For the first time, Singapore Comic Con will be introducing a new initiative, the Work in Progress Programme, to support the discovery of local and regional talent. It offers aspiring comic writers a platform to bring fresh and original content ideas to life, and the chance to be matched to Singapore and regional publishing houses – Asiapac Books, Shogakukan Asia and Vividthree + Darkbox Studio.
In light of its 30th anniversary, the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) has commissioned three short films that will centre on the theme of celebration by Southeast Asian directors Yeo Siew Hua (Singapore), Mouly Surya (Indonesia) and Anucha Boonyawatana (Thailand). These films will make their world premiere at the festival’s opening night on 21 November.
SGIFF’s line-up will include a Focus on Southeast Asian cinema, titled Stories We Tell: Myth, Dreamscape and Memory in Southeast Asian Cinema, encompassing four features that trace imaginative and dreamlike storytelling, a characteristic of films from the region. The line-up includes Mysterious Object at Noon (2000) by Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul, seminal Singaporean omnibus, Lucky 7 (2008) directed by seven local filmmakers (Sun Koh, K Rajagopal, Boo Junfeng, Brian Gothong Tan, Chew Tze Chuan, Ho Tzu Nyen, and Tania Sng), A Short Film About the Indio Nacional (2015) by Filipino director, Raya Martin, and The Missing Picture (2013) by Cambodian filmmaker Rithy Panh.
ATF’s Animation, Chinese and Formats Pitches are platforms that showcase Asian originality, and expose ideas for export and development within and outside of the region. Riding on its success in 2018, the ATF Chinese Pitch widened the doors for more scriptwriters to enter Chinese-speaking territories by accepting both Chinese and English submissions this year. Past winners of the Animation and Formats Pitches have made great strides, with pigsy (winning concept for Animation Pitch 2017) expected to be released by early 2021 and Serenade (winner of ATF Formats Pitch 2018) now being considered by regional and international networks.
The Southeast Asian Film Financing (SAFF) Project Market, organised by ScreenSingapore in partnership with the Southeast Asia Audio-Visual Association (SAAVA), returns this year to connect promising project ideas to potential investors and financiers. A successful case study is Laotian director Mattie Do’s The Long Walk, which was a finalist at the inaugural SAFF Project Market in 2015. The film, completely produced and funded by Singapore’s Aurora Media Holdings as well as 108 Media, is presently making waves in the international festival circuit to high acclaim, most recently at the Venice International Film Festival and Toronto Film Festival.
CONVENING WITH INTERNATIONAL MEDIA THOUGHT LEADERS
As a key event promoting collaboration, knowledge exchange and thought leadership, SMF charts the way forward for the advancement of the region’s industry.
SMF 2019 will host its inaugural CEO Mixer – a networking event which will bring together about 60 top executives and thought leaders from both the media and technology spheres, such as iQiyi, Netflix and Disney (Southeast Asia). A prelude to ATF Leaders’ Summit on the following day, the CEO Mixer will offer local media companies the opportunity to network, exchange ideas and discuss key media trends and developments with global media players at this event.
Delegates at ATF’s Leaders’ Summit can look forward to an insightful session featuring keynote speakers like Gong Yu, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of iQIYI and Shibasish Sarkar, Group CEO of Reliance Entertainment who will shed insights into the growth, trends and challenges facing two of the world’s biggest markets. Also headlining the summit will be Giorgio Stock, President, WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks, Distribution & Advertising Sales (EMEA & APAC).
- SGIFF’s Southeast Asian Producers Network has expanded to a three-day industry programme where 25 invited producers and established professionals from Singapore and Southeast Asia, including Tran Thi Bich Ngoc, Vietnamese veteran producer and co-founder of Autumn Meeting, and Xie Meng, CEO of Beijing-based Rediance will engage in dialogue and seek opportunities for collaboration. Through roundtable sessions, talks and case study presentations, they will discuss pertinent topics relating to the latest developments and strategies of content production in the region.
- With the rise of episodic content as a top choice of entertainment among consumers, SGIFF’s The Future of Cinema – Storytelling through Episodes forum will enable storytellers and content developers to gain insights into creating captivating characters, developing engaging stories, growing and connecting with audiences with evolving consumption patterns. Guest speakers include Singaporean filmmaker Ler Jiyuan who is show running HBO Asia’s drama series Invisible Stories, Thai director and writer Ekachai Uekrongtham who helmed the second season of HBO’s Halfworlds and Netflix’s Bangkok Love Stories, Erika North who oversees Netflix’s content development, and Tanya Yuson who is the founding partner and Chief Creative Development officer of BASE Entertainment.
On 3 and 4 December, the world’s largest online video convention, VidCon, will bring its Asian debut to Singapore. The two-day VidCon Asia Summit will be an interactive digital media playground that explores the future of online video in Asia. This year’s focus is the VidCon Industry Track, featuring the platforms, creators and brands leading innovation and creativity in the online video ecosystem. The line-up includes keynotes and panel discussions by experienced storytellers, social media stars, marketers, and technologists, as well as deep-dive workshops on audience engagement and building influence in the era of video.
A Festival For All:
This year’s Festival will also be complemented by an array of exciting programmes, allowing members of the public – from families, children, young adults, film buffs or pop culture enthusiasts, to be a part of the celebration of the diverse talent and content that Asia has to offer.
SMF 2019 will introduce a new Festival Village, held at Armenian Street, where members of the public can look forward to a slew of film screenings under the stars, including Japanese filmmaker Naoko Ogigami’s Rent-a-Cat (2012), other entertainment, workshops, talks and masterclasses, immersive VR showcases, over two action-packed weekends.
SGIFF has gathered nine local film and media personalities including Fiona Xie and Oon Shu Ann, alongside filmmakers such as Kirsten Tan, to share their self-portraits inspired by nature, at a mixed-media exhibition, Nature’s Playground, held at Gardens by the Bay as it celebrates 30 editions of championing local storytellers and their creative narratives.
The Asian Academy Creative Awards (AAA) is emerging as one of Asia-Pacific’s most prestigious awards for creative excellence and a raft of broadcasters have taken up the broadcast or streaming rights to this year’s ceremonies. International broadcaster E! Entertainment has not only renewed their 34-country deal to broadcast “E! on the Asian Academy Creative Awards Red Carpet” but will be extending the coverage to a full hour (up from 30 minutes in 2018). Regional streamer HOOQ will screen both awards nights live into Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and exclusively into Indonesia. BHD’s Danet Vietnam will also stream the entire awards programmes in Vietnam.
New broadcast deals for 2019 have been announced with free to air broadcaster ViuTV Hong Kong, Mediacorp’s streaming platform Toggle who will stream both nights live, and Malaysia’s first and largest home-grown streaming service tonton with around 7.6 million registered users. The AAA also announced a massive digital media push with the establishment of AAA[tv] to be fronted by actress and influencer Munah Bagharib. AAA[tv] is expected to reach an audience of around 400 million people.
The AAA also announced that this year’s awards would be staged at the historic Victoria Theatre in Singapore (on 5 & 6 December) and the glittering Red Carpet would be held indoors for the first time. Lawrence Wong (who found fame in China by virtue of his role in The Story of Yanxi Palace) has confirmed his attendance for the awards along with Hong Kong born, US based Oli Pettigrew who will host the 2 nights of ceremonies. Yvette King is confirmed to host E!’s Red Carpet broadcast. The rest of the celebrity line-up will be shared after the Regional Winners are announced at an exclusive party in Cannes, France in mid October.
Howie Lau, Chief Industry Development Officer, IMDA, adds, “Singapore is at the heart of Asia, and home to where East meets West, and tech meets media. As a multi-genre, inclusive festival that reflects the converging media landscape, the Singapore Media Festival aims to be a platform that encourages the creation of “Made-with-Singapore” content, where everyone can participate, learn and appreciate the best that Asian content and talent have to offer.”