When asked to name a local filmmaker on the spot, most Singaporeans would likely say Jack Neo.
“Singaporean films still aren’t considered part of pop culture, you know? When you sit in the taxi and you say that you’re a filmmaker, they’d ask if you work for Jack Neo,” local filmmaker Huang Junxiang quipped.
He doesn’t see that as a bad thing. “It just means that we are beginning to take greater steps towards reaching out to a broader audience,” the 33-year-old said.
He was speaking at the ciNE65 Film Festival launch held on Thursday (July 22) at Singapore Discovery Centre’s iWERKS Theatre. This festival celebrates short films produced by local filmmakers, which will be screened at the said theatre as well as The Grand Cathay from July 23 to 25.
Junxiang entered the film industry with no film school background and started by doing almost everything on film sets. Now, the films he produced have premiered at Fantasia Film Festival as well as Cannes Film Festival.
This year, he co-directed the National Day Parade theme song music video. “Conceptualising the music video was to just listen to the song and understand that it’s about perspectives,” he said.
He wanted to focus on how Singapore “chooses to see our potential future” and that’s why the music video allows each singer to “have their own little chapters”.
From his producing and directing experience, Junxiang urged budding filmmakers to find out “how you can add to the already existing narrative”. “I would suggest watching different types of films, especially the films you don’t normally watch,” he said. “It’ll broaden your perspectives.”
Launched in 2011, ciNE65 is currently in its sixth season and the theme this time round is Stronger, Together.
It’s especially timely and should resonate with many given the nation’s continued fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
The theme calls on local filmmakers to explore and reflect how Singaporeans have braved adversity – and be resolute as one Singapore.
Eric Chua, Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth was present as the guest-of-honour. He said: “Over the years, ciNE65 has become a national showcase for stories that explore our emotional connection to Singapore and affirm our sense of belonging to the place we call home.
“These stories offer us glimpses and experiences and worlds that might be novel and unfamiliar to us, even if they are set in Singapore.”
This film festival, organised by So Drama! Entertainment, will be followed by the ciNE65 Awards Ceremony on July 28 where they will announce the winners of the ciNE65 Movie Makers Award, Jury’s Choice Awards, Audience Choice Awards, and Inter-School Challenge.
Slots for the film festival are limited so do register early.