ScreenSingapore Rolls Out The Red Carpet With 'The Devil Inside Me'

The new film festival seeks to establish itself as Southeast Asia's definitive cinema event.

SINGAPORE – The inaugural ScreenSingapore kicks off Sunday with the world premiere of China’s The Devil Inside Me starring Tony Leung Ka-fai and Kelly Lin, as the island nation tries to plant its flag as the definitive film festival in Southeast Asia.

The seven-day business fair, what organizers call a “hybrid event,” is launched in the spirit of “don’t judge, just celebrate,” and encompasses business meetings, a three-day market, seminars, and nightly red carpet premieres of films from China, Japan, Hong Kong, and Hollywood, including Mr. Poppin’s Penguins, Super 8, and Tom Hanks making an appearance for the closing film Larry Crowne.

“I sort of think we stole from the best,” ScreenSingapore chairman Greg Coote told The Hollywood Reporter. “We stole from Cannes, we stole from the American Film Market, from CineAsia, and Showest in Las Vegas. We put together all those things, so we get the red carpets, the independent marketing business, the Cine Expos, where the studios are unveiling all these new products to the exhibitors in the region, and then you get the trade exhibition from Las Vegas, and I think they work.”

The event, hosted by the Singapore Media Development Authority with a reported price tag of S$8 million (US$6.5 million), is established to serve three objectives, said Singapore Media Development Authority chief executive Aubeck Kam: a business event to bring film industry leaders to Singapore, to raise the level of communication between regions, and to spark greater interest in film in the Singaporean public. Over 700 film executives from across the globe had signed up to participate at the event. Local producers are also using the event as a launching platform.

Three-time Oscar winner Oliver Stone will head a short films  jury comprised of Singaporean director Eric Khoo, RGM Media founder and CEO Devesh Chetty, and Maggie LeeThe Hollywood Reporter’s chief Asia film critic.

“The key Singapore filmmakers are all at a crossroads,” said Daniel Yun, founder and CEO of Singapore film company Homerun Asia. “For the last 10 years we’ve been taking baby steps. This is a start of a decade; a lot of us are looking outwards. With ScreenSingapore, we’re insiders looking out, rather than outsiders looking in.” The company will announce two new projects at the event, including a China co-produced remake of Dangerous Liaisons and the Homerun project 1965

But the Singapore film industry might have to wait for a boost from the organizers. “I think right now, while Singapore’s creative talents get its act together, the most that Singapore can offer to the film community is the financial part, with their very skilled expertise. Right now, it’s business to business," Coote said.

“Our business is now a global business,” said Avatar producer Jon Landau, who is in town to speak at a seminar entitled “Defining A Business Case For 3-D Film In Asia."

“It’s not about what you deal with any one place, you have to make movies for the world. There is no greater potential that exists other than Asia today. If we look at the history of Singapore, with the ships and the harbor, for years, Singapore has been the gateway to the world and to Asia. It has the potential to be the same gateway to the world of cinema. You come here and you have access to all Asia has to offer.”

The new event comes on the heels of the Cannes market, which might impact ScreenSingapore's market component.

“If Cannes is very successful, then there may be nothing to sell [here], but if Cannes is unsuccessful, then they might want to keep selling,” said Coote. “It’s like a jigsaw puzzle that we’ve put together, they are all moveable parts. Right now we can see what comes out at the end of the week. We know it’s a success in terms of attracting people, whether or not it’d deliver for them, we’d have to wait and see.”