SAAVA and AIFFA Team Up For 2017 Edition
Providing platform for SE Asian filmmakers to network and strengthen ASEAN bonds. the regional film festival runs from May 4 to May 6, closing with a star-studded awards gala.
On Friday, 9 March 2017, filmmakers and producers all over Singapore came together for the ASEAN International Film Festival and Awards (AIFFA) roadshow with its Festival Director, Ms Livan Tajang, and the Chairman of the Southeast Asian Audio-Visual Association (SAAVA), Mr Chan Gin Kai. At the meeting, both Ms Tajang and Mr Chan emphasized the importance of AIFFA as a melting pot for ASEAN through films.
“AIFFA is a platform for filmmakers to network, to collaborate. To move our films to a higher level, and also to see how we can work together to market our films to the population of ASEAN,” explained Ms Tajang. Sanctioned by the ASEAN Secretariat, the film festival is one of many joint activities to promote relations amongst the regional grouping. It is a biennial event in Kuching, now in its third edition and attracting a growing number of entries compared to previous editions.
AIFFA serves as a dedicated platform to screen ASEAN films, as well as to recognize talents in ASEAN. During the roadshow, Ms Tajang extended invitations to filmmakers, actors, cast, and crew from Singapore to join the festival because “it is an ASEAN festival. It is our festival. It’s the only one that celebrates our films.”
Mr Chan also highlighted the need for Southeast Asian filmmakers to have more confidence in themselves and the region. He pointed out that our common flaw to “belittle ourselves and belittle each other” obstructs the formation of a unified market in Southeast Asia. Any effort to integrate and collaborate with each other is missing. Mr Chan described how he realised many film producers in Southeast Asia, including himself, fell prey to the notion that “outsiders are better” when co-producing a film. In the end, these same film producers experience the same struggles — differing cultures, inability to relate, and the ‘outsiders’ often ‘bullying’ the Southeast Asians.
Mr Chan passionately described how Southeast Asia has many talented filmmakers ready to excel in the growing market. How to move forward from here, he recommended, is to work within the region — appreciating ASEAN’s films more, looking for ways to work with each other, as well as helping to distribute each other’s films in the regional market. Hence, this prompts the need for SAAVA’s current partnership with AIFFA.
“What I appreciate a lot about AIFFA is that there’s a chance to really sit down and make friends and to connect.” Mr Chan stressed the importance of building relationships, establishing alliances and getting to know one another over a meal, which AIFFA encourages. “We believe it’s time for Southeast Asia to step up,” said Mr Chan confidently.
Ms Fadhillah Abdullah, the Manager of AIFFA 2017, explained that it is often difficult for an independent film producer to reach people through complicated political circumstances, especially in Myanmar and Cambodia. As such, AIFFA has helped and succeeded so far in engaging and collaborating with people from these countries. This unique ability of AIFFA has been encapsulated in film projects that are embarked on by actresses, directors and producers from different countries in ASEAN.
She also explains that AIFFA attracts news media from their respective countries, and hoped that upon returning to their home country, they would promote and share about what AIFFA is capable of doing in uniting everyone.
A Singaporean-based attendee to the press conference, Honey Singh, had similar confidence that AIFFA would unite the different ASEAN markets despite the prevalent assumption that ASEAN-made productions cannot match up to bigger international films. “It’s great,” she said enthusiastically. “When my film is ready, I would definitely love to attend.”