Perspectives Film Festival 2018: An Interview with Festival Directors Claudia Loo and Lee Yi Jia
The Perspectives Film Festival returns for its 11th edition from 25th – 28th October 2018! Taking on the theme of ‘Instituitions’, Singapore’s longest running student-run film festival will examine stories in which individuals tackle the the limits of their institutions head on, featuring seven films and other fringe activities during the festival. We spoke to Perspectives Festival Directors Claudia Loo and Lee Yi Jia to find out a little more about their experience working on the festival and what visitors can expect this year. Read the interview in full below:
Bakchormeeboy: How did you come onboard the Perspectives team, and why did you decide to take charge as FD?
Claudia: My background is in event management, it’s been about 6 years since I stepped into this industry and I’m not sick of it yet – I hope I never get sick of it! I love bringing different aspects of an event together, and honestly I love
the challenges that come with it. I actually applied to be Festival Director during my first year of university because I wanted to dream big and aim high but that wasn’t going to happen… Getting the role in my final year has allowed me to
put my skills to use and give back to the school through one last event before graduating to the “real world”.
Yi Jia: This is my second time as part of the Perspectives team, with my first being in 2016, under the Festival Management committee. I loved organising the festival back then — so much so that I still wanted to be a part of it two
years after! Taking on the role of a Festival Director this time felt like a natural decision to make, because I wanted to take my efforts a step further, and carry on pushing the voice that Perspectives has had over the past eleven years.
Bakchormeeboy: Tell us more about this year’s theme – how did it originate and what was the process of selecting the films like?
Yi Jia: We decided on the theme as a committee (that’s like 27 people), but the specifics are largely dependent on our amazing Programming team (of 4 people). In the early days of planning the festival, we went through multiple rounds of theme pitching before INSTITUTIONS became this year’s headline.
Claudia: The committee had a lot of good ideas, we were exploring themes of heteroglossia and coming of age as well. Everyone had a say and the discussions really helped our committee bond a bit too!
Yi Jia: One of our programmers, Toby, brought the idea of institutions to the table. He made us question our sentiments towards these structures that govern our behaviour, and how they may impact the ways in which we see the world. We loved the boldness of the theme and we saw a lot of potential for new conversations to be started.
Claudia: The film selection came later, and it was really long process. The committee would suggest films, and our Programming and Editorial teams would watch them and see if they were suitable for our festival. The selection wasn’t just based on whether or not they liked the films, we also wanted to present a wide selection to our audience. Perspectives focuses on Breakthroughs in Cinema, so by the end of 2 months, the Programmers pitched a lineup that was not only diverse in terms of language and theme, we also have an interesting selection of films that present breakthroughs in film.
Bakchormeeboy: As Festival Director, your role is to have an overview of the festival and steer it in the right direction. How would you say this edition is an improvement over the last one, and what impact would you say you’ve left in your stint?
Claudia: Well I don’t know if you can say that we improved, because the nature of the festival is that something new is brought to the table every year. The theme doesn’t repeat, the Festival Directors and committee members change, and I guess that leads to a different vibe every year.
Yi Jia: Something special that we are doing this year though — a private second screening of 3 Faces, after it’s screened on opening night. This event, called Face to Face, aims to create a platform women in the film industry to have the conversations they’ve always wanted to have. The focus on women in film is strongly tied to 3 Faces’ focus on the patriarchal system in play. It’s a step Perspectives is taking to impact the wider landscape of the arts in Singapore, and we hope that this will also inspire future editions of PFF to make bold statements and take brave actions.
Bakchormeeboy: As students, what has been the most rewarding part of working on this, and how do you hope you’ll take this experience and apply it to your future?
Yi Jia: I feel like the best part about running this festival is that we sometimes forget that we are still students and that PFF is a module! It’s really about the feeling that we get to work on something a lot bigger than ourselves, and see that a
mark is left on the film and arts scene in Singapore. Film has always been a guiding factor in my life and I have a lot of faith in its emerging presence here. I would love to help the industry grow, and for the industry to help me grow too.
Claudia: I agree with Yi Jia! Our course supervisors are really just there to guide us, and they are happy to let us run the show. It has been very collaborative, and I’m grateful that they’re so willing to pass on their knowledge. I personally hope
to be able to continue being a part of festivals and exhibitions both locally and internationally. Art events have been a part of my career since poly but with each event I learn and grow, and I hope to continue doing so for as long as
Bakchormeeboy: Why should audiences attend Perspectives, and what is the one film you would recommend they watch?
Yi Jia: I am going all out to brag that we have a great line up of films that audiences would probably never get to watch on the big screen in Singapore, on any other occasion. Also, going to watch a film during a festival always feels a little more special than a weeknight run to the cineplex to catch blockbusters — it’s an Event.
Claudia: I would say that film festivals are a chance for you to broaden your perspective (wink). Film is a great form of cultural exchange, and we usually have panel discussions after the screenings for our audience to think more about what they just watched. People often don’t think too much about the content they consume but if you dig a little deeper, it’s interesting to dissect why the filmmakers make certain choices in their films.
Yi Jia: I’d recommend audiences to watch something they would normally not watch, and let their minds run wild throughout the process! Personally, I usually stray away from watching older films, but we have a selection of films that are (unintentionally) from the 70s. Out of the lot, I really enjoyed A Woman Under the Influence for its impactful portrayal of love and marriage, in light of the time period the film was set in.
Claudia: Ok la don’t want to play favourites but I really enjoyed Stations of the Cross, it’s visually stunning and the content is close to my heart, so it’s a personal fave!
The Perspectives Film Festival runs at the National Museum and Alliance Francaise from 25th to 28th October. For full lineup and more information, visit their website here