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ScreenSingapore's new format wins industry approval

The 2nd ScreenSingapore event closed Friday (Dec 7), held in conjunction for the first time with the Asian TV Forum & Market (ATF), with attendees saying it was an improvement on last year’s event, although the market itself was more focused on television than film.

Held by Singapore’s Media Development Authority (MDA), ScreenSingapore was this year pushed back six months to run with the ATF in the Sands Expo and Convention Center, which afforded the event a busy market floor and combined TV and film conferences.

MDA Assistant Chief Executive Officer Yeo Chun Cheng says they took criticisms of last year’s event to give local filmmakers more support, which resulted in a “Sneak Peeks” showcase of nine of Singapore’s upcoming releases and festival films (local productions have doubled from six in 2002 to an expected 13 for 2013); matchmaking sessions for local and Chinese filmmakers, and the red carpet premiere of local film Wedding Diary which closed the event’s galas on Dec 6.

Most of the market floor’s sellers were from the broadcast sector, with umbrella stands generally hosted by non-film entities such as the International Drama Festival in Tokyo hosting the Japan Pavilion. (In this case, “Drama” is used in the sense of “TV drama”.)

“ATF is a bigger and much more established market. But a lot of the buzz is about film. The red carpet premieres generate a lot of excitement. In the long run, if we can find the right balance, ScreenSingapore can get the benefit of the trade floor and ATF can get the benefit of ScreenSingapore’s film. You work hard all day, and go to a premiere at night,” says Yeo.

Stars like Isabelle Huppert and Sophie Marceau added to the glamour at night on the red carpet. Holding Rendezvous With French Cinema, a film festival-cum-trade platform, in conjunction with ScreenSingapore, Unifrance also took a large umbrella stand housing nine French sellers on the market floor.

“I think the French sellers were happy to meet the key buyers from the region here. There is still a huge potential in the Southeast Asian region for our films to grow and it is important to be here,” said Valerie-Anne Christen, head of UniFrance Films, Tokyo Office and head of Research, Asia.

Conferences included speakers such as Sanford Panitch, President, Fox International Productions, USA, who talked about working with local systems outside the Hollywood bureaucracy and “embracing the principles of disruptive innovation”.

Interest in working with China and potentially growing Singapore as a regional hub was reflected in panels and talks such as the one given by Yu Dong, CEO & Founder, Bona Film Group, China, who talked about unique models of coproductions amongst the Chinese-speaking territories of mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and how mainland China’s film sector will be looking for major co-productions with the US as well to satisfy market demand.

Attendance figures are still pending but as of Thursday, Yeo estimated 4,000 participants, up from 3,500 last year.

He says MDA looks to position ScreenSingapore as “the event to end the year.”

“And then you can go have a holiday in the region,” he adds.

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