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Title: Sensorium R(A) : the Singapore International Film Festival (1987-2000)
Authors: Ng, Chrystal Shu Min
Keywords: DRNTU::Humanities::History::Asia::Singapore::Politics and government
DRNTU::Social sciences::Mass media
Issue Date: 2017
Abstract: Introduced into Singapore’s cultural landscape in 1987, the Singapore International Film Festival (SIFF) has been providing a space for cine-philes in the region. Founded by Australian expatriate, Geoffrey Malone, SIFF was largely headed by film festival stalwarts, Philip Cheah and Teo Swee Leng. Known in the international film festival (IFF) circuit today as a key champion of Southeast Asian (SEA) cinema within the region. SIFF has been actively carving out this niche since its 1995 edition – one that still forms the core of the Festival today. Local filmmakers and film industry professionals have attributed their successes on the global IFF circuit to the exposure provided by the showcasing of their work at SIFF’s Silver Screen Awards. Scholars have identified SIFF as one of the first key IFFs to champion SEA cinema, while recognizing the Festival as one of the key sparks that re-ignited the flame for filmmaking in Singapore, by Singaporeans. In addition, Singapore cinema has been widely discussed as a text with scholars harnessing film as a medium to critique the political state of Singapore. And yet, given the significance of SIFF on the SEA region and Singapore’s film industry, current literature only highlights a fraction of the Festival’s impact on Singapore and the region. Critical discourse on the history of Singapore cinema also do not take into consideration the history of SIFF vis-à-vis State cultural policies that influence the Festival’s programming slate and survival. Noting this gap in research, I hope to contribute to existing literature by providing a chronological historicization of SIFF from its inception to the Festival’s 13th edition in 2000; the year that also marked the launch of Singapore’s Renaissance City Plan. Understanding that the history and growth of SIFF is intricately linked to Singapore’s cultural policies, I propose that the Festival functions as a sensorium within the State’s cultural infrastructure. I will navigate the early history of SIFF vis-à-vis State cultural policies under three themes: the roots of SIFF (1987 – 1990), SIFF in an era of Cultural Enlightenment (1991 – 1997) and SIFF during the emergence of the Renaissance City Plan (1998 – 2000). Harnessing information from SIFF archives, newspapers and face-to-face interviews with key figures of the Singapore film industry, I hope to provide a comprehensive history of SIFF and new perspectives on how IFFs and government policies can influence each other.
Rights: Nanyang Technological University
Fulltext Permission: restricted
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:WKWSCI Theses

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