While the Singapore International Film Festival has managed to foster a local cinema-going culture that goes beyond the typical Hollywood or Hong Kong films, Hadi says more should be done.
“The cinema audience has changed so much. It is exposed to a lot of things with the development of internet. With online film platforms and even airlines reflecting diverse programming, our challenge is really to create a dialogue between the audience and the filmmaker, to provide insight into new culture and create a thirst for something more,” she says. “At the Festival, we see audiences come alive when the discussions with the filmmaker are in-depth and interesting.” In fact, last year, besides a growth in the number of festival-attendees, there was a 50 per cent increase from the previous year in attendance for masterclasses and talks.
In light of this trend, the Festival organises a monthly public dialogue series called New Waves with emerging Southeast Asian filmmakers. It also has the Audience Choice Award that allows attendees to nominate their favourite film to be re-screened on the last day of the festival.
Beneath these ambitious and innovative initiatives lies the challenge of ensuring the Festival stays sustainable. Says Hadi, “We are actively looking for like-minded partners as sponsors. For example, this year, we expanded our partnership with Marina Bay Sands and co-launched a Youth Film Project with them. We really want to continue to champion the film talent and cinema of Southeast Asia.”