ScreenSingapore: 5 Reasons the Show Matters

Courtesy Everett Collection
"Murder She Wrote"

With the Asia TV Forum & Market, the annual confab offers Hollywood a point of access to major players in the Pan-Asian entertainment landscape (including China).

This story first appeared in the Dec. 6 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

ScreenSingapore and its sister event, the Asia TV Forum & Market (ATF), have become an essential stop on the Asian entertainment calendar. Running concurrently at Singapore's plush Marina Bay Sands hotel, the events offer a relaxed environment where industryites can buy, sell, finance, distribute and co-produce across all entertainment platforms. Opening with the world premiere of the Hong Kong actioner Firestorm, this year's events provide several reasons to be on Hollywood's radar.

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1. Singapore is a gateway to China.

"We are in a position where we can be a bridge to China, not just because of the language but also culturally," says Singapore-based producer Melvin Ang. His company mm2 has worked on various co-productions in the region, including the film I Want You, with its China partners: Star China Media, Zhejiang Star TV and Beijing Enlight Pictures. Adds Ang: "ScreenSingapore should be a hub where the focus should not just be on distribution but on production, marketing, branding. There is a lot of growth potential." For Western execs, there's no need to worry about a language barrier: Mandarin and English are among Singapore's four official languages.

2. There is money in the city-state.

At AFM in November, Singapore-based film-financing and production outfit Vega, Baby! launched a production and financing fund, with the Salma Hayek starrer Everly the first project to emerge from the venture. Vega, Baby! will seek future projects at ScreenSingapore. Indeed, co-production will be a big theme during the event. Says Choi Yeonu, vp international film financing and production at South Korea's CJ: "The world is now being connected into a single culture and asks for new content that may satisfy a wide audience. That is why we seek co-productions."

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3. A local film has serious Oscar buzz.

The Singapore movie business has been given a major boost by the success of local filmmaker Anthony Chen's Ilo Ilo. The director will discuss the family drama's unlikely box-office success at ScreenSingapore. "This is the first time a Singaporean film that has received critical acclaim and gone to festivals is having [commercial] success," Chen tells THR. Ilo Ilo's list of achievements is impressive: After winning the Camera d'Or in Cannes, it was selected as Singapore's entry for the foreign-language Oscar then received six nominations for Taiwan's Golden Horse Awards. "It subverted a lot of expectations of what could and couldn't be done in Singaporean cinema," says Chen, who signed with UTA in October. "It's kind of a game-changer."

4. It brings together Asia's massive TV market.

This year, ATF will include the one-day MIPAcademy, which aims to bring TV producers and executives together to compare notes and exchange ideas. "It's informative but informal and, deliberately, very interactive," says Ben Hall, managing director at London-based Chalkboard TV, who will lead a session titled "The Art of Pitching." "Our speakers are there to start a meaningful dialogue rather than to simply tell you how it is."

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5. It's a regional animation hotspot.

As home to Lucasfilm Singapore and The Jim Henson Co., Singapore has established credentials as an animation hub. ATF and ScreenSingapore aim to highlight this strength with the launch of the three-day Animation Lab, a platform for Asian animation producers to pitch to top programmers from throughout the world. Singapore will market some of its own animation titles, including The Insectibles and Oddbods from local toon house One Animation. Barbara Uecker, head of children's programming and acquisitions at Australia's ABC TV, says the program offers an opportunity to find fresh material she otherwise wouldn't see. "Asian animation is strong and varied," she says, "and we are excited to see what we can pick up and develop with the producers from that region."