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SGIFF 2020: Singapore International Film Festival Announces Recipients of Film Grants

Screenshot 2020-05-27 at 8.33.58 PM

L-R: Film Still from Sandcastle, Aswang and Worship

Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) has announced the recipients of two major film grants: The Tan Ean Kiam Foundation-SGIFF Southeast Asian Documentary Grant (SEA-DOC) and the SGIFF Southeast Asian Short Film Grant (SEA-SHORTS). Aimed at developing inspiring and thought-provoking films that can contribute to the growth of a distinctive and independent Southeast Asian filmmaking landscape, the grants saw submissions coming from right across the region, including Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, The Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.

Under SEA-DOC, the four selected documentary films are each awarded a cash amount of S$25,000 from the Tan Ean Kiam Foundation. By giving to SEA-DOC, the Foundation hopes to encourage and support more local and SEA documentary filmmakers, especially those who are capturing and sharing the unique stories of Singapore and its region. “We believe that documentary films, told through the lens of local filmmakers, capture stories that would otherwise go untold. These stories are unique to our culture, and will be a gift for many generations to come,” said Tan Keng Leck, Vice Chairman, Tan Ean Kiam Foundation.

One of the recipients of the inaugural SEA-DOC, Aswang, by Filipino director, Alyx Ayn Arumpac, premiered in 2019 at International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), and has continued its run through European and North American festivals. In the documentary category, the selection jury stressed the desire to find strong cinematic films that demonstrated the filmmaker’s vision for the project and a clear understanding of their subject. They added that it is important to champion projects whose distinctiveness sets them apart from traditional factual films that may more easily find support within the broadcast sector. In line with this philosophy, the selected projects represent a commitment to the political and the experimental. The grants were awarded to two projects from Thailand, and two from Singapore.

Top row, L-R: Daniel Hui (Singapore), Uruphong Raksasad (Thailand), Polen Ly (Cambodia) Bottom row, L-R: Cao Viet Hoai Son (Vietnam), Carin Leong (Singapore), Thanakrit Duangmaneeporn & Aekaphong Saransate (Thailand)

Breaking the Cycle, from Thai directors, Aekaphong Saransate and Thanakrit Duangmaneeporn, confronts democracy in Thailand, while Worship, from director Uruphong Raksasad, whose previous film The Songs of Rice (2014) screened at IFFR, tackles the subject of spirituality in contemporary Thai culture. Singaporean director, Carin Leong’s Sandcastle, poignantly reflects on the city state’s urban development, while the final selection is director Daniel Hui Sui Fong’s, hybrid experimental and conceptual rumination on a key historical court case, Small Hours of the Night. Daniel’s previous film, Demons (2018), screened in Berlinale. The jury felt that each of these projects represented clear cinematic voices from young and dynamic teams, each presenting powerful stories coupled with ambitious approaches to storytelling that would resonate across Southeast Asian countries.

Under SEA-Shorts, short films receive a cash amount of S$4,000 from C47 Investment, with a further S$4,000 available in-kind for post-production facilities at White Light Studio in Bangkok. When selecting the Short Films, the jury sought projects from up and coming young talents that combined inspiring, meaningful stories with mature and feasible aims. It was felt that the winners, Further and Further Away, by Cambodian director Polen Ly, and Father’s Father, from Vietnam’s Cao Viet Hoai Son, both exemplified those aims, with Ly’s film tackling the subject of tradition and modernity, and Cao’s film approaching the provocative topic of toxic masculinity.

SGIFF 2020 is set to run from 26th November to 6th December 2020. The festival is currently accepting submissions, with more information available here

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