The Singapore Chinese Film Festival (SCFF) returned with a bang for its sixth edition, SCFF2018, from 27 April to 6 May. The 10-day festival, co-organised by the Centre for Chinese Studies @SUSS (Singapore University of Social Sciences) and Singapore Film Society (SFS), has grown over the years with SCFF2018 pushing record new boundaries. This year's festival offered six different 'inaugural' experiences for its growing audience, including:
- Opening with a documentary film,
- Screening an almost five-hour long film,
- Screening a Wuxia film,
- Offering an Animation Shorts selection,
- Ticket bundle packages.
Most significantly, this was the first time the festival screened its closing film at the iconic Capitol Theatre, a venue which holds nostalgic memories for many cinephiles in Singapore!
SCFF started from humble beginnings back in 2013 with only 10 films and 20 screenings. This year, the festival presented a total of 59 films and 51 screening sessions including 11 sold-out sessions, garnering over 27 media reports including two from overseas news agencies. Attendance size also increased to a record-high of 7,000, up from 6,433 last year.
Clockwise from left: Francis Kuo-Hsin Liang (the Republic of China (Taiwan)'s representative to Singapore), Professor Eddie Kuo (Academic Advisor to SUSS and Centre for Chinese Studies @SUSS), Professor Cheong (SUSS President), and Associate Professor Foo Tee Tuan (Director for Centre for Chinese Studies @SUSS)
SCFF2018 kicked off with a lavish opening night reception held at Golden Village Vivo City graced by over 200 guests from academia, business, cultural, performing arts, film, and media industries. The by-invitation only event featured the festival’s opening film Manfei, a documentary on late Taiwanese dancer Ms Lo Man-fei. The evening was made extra special by the presence of Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, SUSS President, and Professor Eddie Kuo, Academic Advisor to SUSS and Centre for Chinese Studies @SUSS, as well as Madam Effie Lo, eldest sister of the late Man-fei. Director En Chen was also present to interact with the audience at the post-screening Q&A session. The sharing continued the next day at the festival's first discussion panel which explored the relationship between film subject and filmmaker. Director Chen delighted audiences by relating his experience and challenges at capturing the beauty and essence of Man-fei 10 years after her passing.
In his welcome speech, festival co-director Associate Professor Foo Tee Tuan (Director, Centre for Chinese Studies @SUSS) highlighted that the opening film would, "…resonate powerfully with many of us, especially my colleagues at the Singapore University of Social Sciences." Associate Professor Foo explained that the documentary portrayed Man-fei as a committed teacher and mentor who dedicated time and effort to ensure her students were able to pursue their dreams to be a professional dancer or choreographer. From the vivid recounts of her students and friends, it was clear that Man-fei's legacy as an educator will continue through the lives she had touched. Madam Effie Lo also shared touching memories of her late sister, which added a sense of immediacy beyond what the movie screening could afford.
From left: Associate Professor Foo, Madam Effie Lo, Director En-Chen
While selecting this year's crop of movies, the organisers found a unique opportunity to pay tribute to moviemakers and stars the industry had lost. The festival honoured the late Taiwanese director Chi-Po Lin, who tragically passed away last year, with the screening of five eco-documentary productions, including Chi's Golden Horse Award winning Beyond Beauty: Taiwan From Above, and budding local director Yeo Kai Wen's The Disappearing Hills. Associate Professor Foo explained this decision, "Beyond screening movies for entertainment, SCFF hopes to create a deeper impact on our audiences by provoking thought and reflection on important societal issues. This year we decided to focus on creating more awareness on sustainability and the domino effects of our actions and urban lifestyles on the environment we live in. We thought this would be a meaningful way to remember Chi-Po Lin who was here personally to support SCFF back in 2014."
Three of the eco-documentary filmmakers also participated in a panel discussion dedicated to Chi Po Lin where they passionately shared the inspiration behind their productions as well as their environmental convictions. Their fervour triggered an immediate positive response amongst the audience, with some commenting on how we could all do more to help protect our planet. Hopefully this will create a long-lasting impact by inspiring Singaporeans to play their part towards this cause!
Another tribute this year was to the late Mr Leslie Cheung, one of the most popular movie stars the Chinese speaking world has seen. As 2018 coincided with the 15th anniversary of his passing, Loving Leslie – featuring four of his famous films - was curated to commemorate his achievements as an artiste. Wong Kar Wai's widely acclaimed Happy Together, screened only once in Singapore 20 years ago at the Capitol Theatre, was selected as the festival's closing film. SCFF2018 recreated that nostalgia by choosing to screen the film in its restored version and in original Cantonese at the Capitol Theatre. The sold-out session saw an overwhelming response from many Leslie fans. Their excitement was palpable from start to end – when thunderous applause followed with the roll of the end credits. As the audience streamed out of the theatre, many lingered on to take photos with festival posters and video footage featuring Leslie!
While SCFF continues to re-invent itself, it stays true to its commitment to promote the appreciation of Chinese films to all, including non-Chinese speaking communities. The festival strives to screen the movies in their original languages to showcase the beauty and diversity of the Chinese culture and language. As such, as far as possible, the festival tries to provide both English and Chinese subtitles in order to attain a wider outreach of audience, including those from non-Chinese, and/or non-Chinese-speaking backgrounds.
SCFF2018 was made possible by Catchplay on Demand, Hong Leong Foundation, Shaw Foundation, the Chinese Language and Culture Fund, the Taipei Business Association in Singapore, and the Taipei Representative Office in Singapore. The success of the event is a result of the impressive team effort put in by sponsors, festival organisers, volunteers, participating filmmakers, and other partners. Fans can definitely stay tuned to a more exciting line-up of films and events next year!
2018年新加坡华语电影节是由CatchPlay on Demand、丰隆基金、邵氏基金、中华语言文化基金、新加坡台北工商协会及驻新加坡台北代表处协力赞助。非常感谢赞助商、志愿者、各位嘉宾以及其他合作伙伴的热烈支持，今年的活动才得以圆满落幕。我们明年再见！