The inaugural ScreenSingapore opened last night (June 5) with the world premiere of the Chinese thriller The Devil Inside Me, directed by Zhang Qi and starring Tony Leung Ka-fai and Kelly Lin.

Held at the Vivo City mega mall, the opening event saw stars like Zhang Ziyi, Anya and Xie Nan grace the red carpet, along with directors Zhang Qi and Gordon Chan. The latter presented an early trailer of his upcoming film The Mural before the main feature.

Running until June 12, the event’s Closing Night screening will be the Asia Pacific premiere of Larry Crowne on June 11. The film’s star Tom Hanks will be on hand to present it.

ScreenSingapore, which organisers emphasise “is not a festival,” encompasses red carpet gala screenings, sneak preview screenings, seminars and a three-day market called Expo@ScreenSingapore, which starts tomorrow (June 7).

Aiming to launch films from Japan, China, India, France, Singapore and Hollywood into the Asia Pacific region, the gala screenings also include world and international premieres of films such as the recent Tribeca competition title Jesus Henry Christ, French action film The Assault (M18) and Paradise Night, Warner Bros. Japan’s live adaptation of the manga Paradise Kiss.

“It’s a hybrid event. We don’t judge, just celebrate,” said Greg Coote, chairman of the board of ScreenSingapore.

Hosted by the city-state’s Media Development Authority (MDA) ScreenSingapore is organized by Experia, known for its airshow and events. The event’s board features names such as Oscar-winning director Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth), Hyde Park Entertainment CEO Ashok Amritraj, Fortissimo chairman Michael J. Werner and Aubeck Kam, CEO of MDA.

ScreenSingapore’s international ambassadors include actress Zhang Ziyi, director Oliver Stone (who also judged the event’s short film contest) and producer Jeremy Thomas, and Fox International Productions’ Sanford Panitch.

Local papers such as The Straits Times have voiced concerns that the event is not showing enough support for local filmmakers while aiding the launch of Hollywood studio films. Perhaps most noticeably, local director Eric Khoo’s recent Cannes Un Certain Regard film Tatsumi is not in the line-up.

On the other hand, Daniel Yun, CEO of the local production company Homerun Asia, noted, “Key Singaporean filmmakers are at a crossroads. We are looking outward [for coproductions and larger markets]. After attending many festivals and markets around the whole world, at this event, we feel like an insider looking out instead of an outsider looking in.”

As for long-term identity and goals for ScreenSingapore, organisers quipped, “we’ll know at the end of the week,” citing the busy 12-month run-up from initial announcement to the opening day of the event.