Friday, 22 February 2013

Watch Singapore short films online

SGFilm Channel on YouTube will offer 40 works in its first year
By Boon Chan, The Straits Times, 21 Feb 2013

You read about an awardwinning short film by a local film-maker - but then have no idea where to watch it.

But now, a new channel on YouTube offering short films by local directors for free is just the ticket.

The SGFilm Channel, was launched yesterday. It will also show trailers of upcoming local feature films.

Feted director Royston Tan, 36, says: "Whenever I travel to festivals with a new film, people always ask to see my other films. I can now refer them to SGFilm Channel where they can also discover other short films from Singapore." His 10-minute-long Sons (2000), about a father seeking to reach out to his son, is available on the channel.

As Mr Yeo Chun Cheng, director of Singapore Film Commission (SFC), notes: "Short films are an important stepping stone for many of our film-makers, for it is where they cut their teeth."

SGFilm Channel will start by offering 40 short films in its first year, rolling out 10 new titles each quarter. The short films, defined as those under 30 minutes long, include fiction, non-fiction, animation and experimental works.

The channel was created and is managed by local centre for photography and filmmaking Objectifs, and is part of Watch Local, an initiative by SFC to promote appreciation of home-grown films.

Objectifs and SFC will choose the films shown on the channel. Apart from exposure for the film-makers, Objectifs partner Yuni Hadi says they get a "token artist fee".

She adds: "Our first year aims to present the widest scope of Singapore short films, new and old, to give new audiences a broad perspective of what our local talent has to offer."

The first batch of titles comprises works from familiar as well as lesser known names. They include Anthony Chen's Ah Ma (2007) which won a Special Mention award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007, Boo Junfeng's Keluar Baris (Homecoming, 2007), Wee Li Lin's Autograph Book (2003), as well as Late Shift (2012) by young film-maker Edward Khoo - film-maker Eric's son - who is in national service.

Chen, 29, says: "It is interesting to grow an audience through social media because we can't ignore the fact that YouTube is the viewing platform for many of this generation."

One concern Boo, 28, had was whether the rights of the films would be protected as "it is easy to rip from YouTube and repost it elsewhere". SFC has assured him it will keep an eye on this.

On the whole, Boo welcomes the greater exposure from the initiative. He points out: "Keluar Baris had a successful run at film festivals and its shelf-life for the film festival circuit is basically over. So I'm glad that it can be seen by more people on this platform."

Objectifs is not worried about the channel affecting sales of its DVD collections of local short films. Ms Yuni says: "Collectors are a different breed. There's music on YouTube but they would still buy the file from iTunes or buy the CD."

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