ORGANISING a film festival isn’t easy – just ask Lydia Teh, the woman behind the annual Singapore Film Festival in Melbourne. But as she tells Diane Leow, the festival’s back in full force and ready to wow audiences with some classic Singaporean cinema.
Since its debut in 2010, Melbourne’s Singapore Film Festival has come a long way. Over the years, the organising team has learned the ups and downs of running an event like this – from the amount of organising that goes into a film festival to learning about various film formats.
The event’s producer, Lydia Teh, says they’re now putting that knowledge to good use, promising audiences a bigger and better festival this year than any they’ve held in the past.
“Coming into 2012, we are slightly more mature. We kind of know the background, all the labour that has to go into setting [a festival like this] up,” she says.
Aside from giving Singaporeans a chance to revel in their home culture and history, Lydia says the film festival will also give Australian movie-goers a platform to experience another facet of Asian cinema.
“Very often, when you hear about Asian cinema, it’s always about Japan, Korea, Hong Kong,” she says.
But this year, the festival will make sure Singapore has a place in that category too.
The movies chosen for 2012’s festival all depict different aspects of Singapore. It’s a Great, Great World represents Singapore’s past; an era that is slightly unfamiliar to Gen Y. Be With Me showcases the difficulties of the deaf and blind in Singapore. And Army Daze will be familiar to almost all Singaporean males who have been through National Service.
In fact, the movie has struck such a chord, Lydia says many who attended 2010’s festival specifically requested for Army Daze to be screened here in Melbourne.
“So many of them came back to say, ‘Can you screen Army Daze?’ And I think it’s probably something they associate with very well, and it’s such a classic,” she says.
This year’s festival will also showcase more than just movies. Singaporean-owned startups will be on show at the Opening Gala as well.
But for all the film enthusiasts, here’s what you can look forward to at this year’s Singapore Film Festival Melbourne:
It’s a Great, Great World (2011)
Nostalgia is something Singaporeans are accustomed to. More often than not, Singapore’s history is often eroded, replaced by images of swanky shopping malls and spanking new versions of antiquated buildings. The stories behind historic landmarks are watered down thanks to progress and modernisation.Perhaps its apt then that this year’s Singapore Film Festival Melbourne is all about Singaporeans engaging in a past they’re familiar with.
This year’s gala premiere, It’s a Great, Great World by Kelvin Tong, is a film based on a now-defunct theme park called Great World. The film offers a glimpse into pre-war Singapore, in an era where Ghost Train rides and drive-in cinemas were part of popular culture.
The film depicts the stories of various characters who worked, danced, played, or simply fell in love with Great World.
Be With Me (2005)
Inspired by real-life deaf and blind teacher Theresa Chan, Be With Me tells her story in four parts – three stories are fictional, one is real. Only a few minutes of the film involve dialogue, invoking the idea that communication transcends sound and words.
Be With Me is a story of triumph over disability. Of love, determination, and success that defies the norm.
Every Singaporean male has an innate ability to bond with each other over army-talk. For those not from the region, it’s legally enshrined that every Singaporean male above 18 years of age has to be conscripted into the army. They undergo what is known as National Service (NS) for two years, serving in various departments of the Singapore Armed Forces.
Well, Army Daze is a poignant, hilarious take on the National Service system, and it’s a great way to acquaint the unfamiliar with an understanding of the bonds forged amongst those who grow up to become men while in the army.
For more information about the films, click here.
For more ticketing information, click here.
Meld Magazine has a pair of tickets to the Opening Gala of this year’s Singapore Film Festival to give away. Simply leave a comment stating which movie you’d most like to watch at the movie and why by 2pm on Wednesday, August 29. Don’t forget to provide us with your full name and contact details.
The competition is open to only those living and studying in Victoria and winners will be contacted directly.