By Parinyaporn Pajee
Thai talent was very much in the spotlight last week with three directors all picking up major prizes at both the Singapore International Film Festival’s Silver Screen Awards and TV Asian awards. The celebrations of big and small screen are part of the annual Singapore Media festival, which meshes media and entertainment events and this year ran from November 23 to December 3.
Director Anucha Boonyawatana was named Best Director in the Asian Feature Film Competition for her film “Malila” (“The Farewell Flower”), which earlier picked up top prizes at the Busan International and the Golden Horse film festivals.
Sorayos Prapapan took home the Best Director award in the Southeast Asian Short Film Competition and the Youth Jury Prize for “Awasarn Sound Man” (“Death of the Sound Man”), a hilarious satire centred on a guy involved in sound recording for film production, while Ratchapoom Boonbunchachoke moved a step closer to making his debut feature by winning the Southeast Asian Film Lab’s Most Promising Project for “A Useful Ghost”. The Film Lab is a story development workshop for emerging filmmakers from Southeast Asia embarking on their first feature film.
Anucha, who was as ever dressed in an outfit made with traditional Thai fabric, said that winning the award had increased her confidence in filmmaking and confirmed that she was on the right path.
“Winning the Kim Ji seok award at the Busan International Film Festival was a great honour for me and taking home the best director prize here in Singapore tells me that my film is a good one, as movies selected by SGIFF always receive recognition from other festivals,” she told XP.
The Kim Ji seok award was initiated this year in memory of the BIFF’s festival programmer Kim who died of a heart attack while attending the Cannes International Film Festival in May. The jury praised Anucha for her “quiet, extremely sensitive, beautifully shot exploration of fundamental themes of our existence”, adding that the film gently “nudges us into a meditative state to enable us to explore for ourselves the meaning of being in the present.”
This year the Silver Screen Awards ceremony was held at the Marina Bay Sands Grand Theatre. A total of 14 awards were presented, nine of them in the two most anticipated sections – the Asian Feature Film Competition and the Southeast Asian Short Film Competition. The Iranian film “Disappearance” by Ali Asgari picked up the Best Film prize in the former category while actress Sadaf Asgari collected the Best Performance award for her role as Sara in the film.
Thai filmmakers were also recognised in ways other than awards through the selection of Pimpaka Towira as the festival’s programme director, the first non-Singaporean to be chosen as the festival’s key figure.
Equally as sparkling were the Asian Television awards held over two days and giving out 47 prizes for excellence in programming, production and performance. More than 1,350 entries from 250 channels and 66 broadcasters across Asia submitted entries to this year’s event, which incorporates every kind of television programme and drama. It is a very open competition as it allows anyone interested in taking part to choose the best part of a series or best episode and submit it to award organiser Contineo Media. The entries are judged by a multi-country jury.
Three Thai programmes were entered into this year’s competition: Channel 3’s “Singer Auction” from Zense Entertainment Company and “House of Blast – Dracula in Trouble” from Workpoint Channel. The third entry was and a gay show hosted Niti ‘Pompam’ Chaichitatorn from GMM 25 –“Talk Ka Toey Tonight” (“Talk with Toey Tonight”) and this won best entertainment presenter, beating out well known hosts like Allen Wu from the “Amazing Race Asia”.
“Given that the show’s title, this award goes to gender equality across Asia,” said Pompam in his acceptance speech, drawing loud applause from the audience in the Suntec City Convention Centre.
Hosted by Singapore’s Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA), the Singapore Media Festival also includes the Asian Television Awards (ATA), the Asia TV Forum & Market (ATF), Asia’s marketplace ScreenSingapore, which offers a series of talk and seminars on film pitching for the SGIFF, and SMF Ignite.
A one-day conference and exhibition, VR X SMF Ignite aims to bring together technologists, creators, developers and users to exchange insights on the VR ecosystem and discuss how this new paradigm can create opportunities for businesses in media. This year the SMF also hosted its very first Country-of-Focus, selecting Indonesia for its rich stories, talents and achievements across the SMF’s various constituent events.
The Singapore Media Festival usually brings together more than 20,000 media and creative professionals, industry thought-leaders and fans of television and film from around the world. The 18th Asia TV Forum & Market (ATF) and the seventh ScreenSingapore ended with an estimated US$289 million (Bt9.42 billion) worth of deals sealed over four days. A total of 760 exhibiting companies from around the world showcased their latest programming and content. Exhibitors included major studios like CBS Studios International, Sony Pictures Television and The Walt Disney Company and Asia’s popular content providers from South Korea, Japan, India and China. Thailand was represented by Workpoint Entertainment, which showcased its TV game shows “Mic Mod Nee” (“Mic on Debt Off”) and the new singing contest show “Diva Makeover” which garnered plenty of attention from Southeast Asian buyers. The ATF also organised talks with well-known creators like Sana Amanat, aka Miss Marvel, cocreator of Marvel’s first Muslim superhero “Kamala Khan”.
“The goal of these media festivals is to bring together the component parts and provide opportunities to get business people and creators together to create new opportunities,” explained Robert Gilby, chairman of the Singapore Media Festival.
“The SMF is largest international media festival in Southeast Asia. It’s a great venue to showcase ideas and stimulate conversations, to find buyers for shows and to find new financiers for programmes,” he added.