The film scene in Singapore is alive and well, but there’s been a surge of interest in it over the last few months, partly because of international recognition for films like Boo Junfeng’s seminal feature Apprentice and K. Rajagopal’s first film in a while A Yellow Bird—both of which have been making the rounds on the international film festival circuit. But as much as we love ourselves some local films, it’s hard to really show our support for them, especially if they’re only being screened at film festivals (kudos to the annual Singapore International Film Festival), or when theaters here decide to have a couple of screenings, or when there’s a DVD release. But that’s all about to change in June.
Local filmmaker and founder of Singapore’s first boutique digital film lab Mocha Chai Laboratories Chai Yee Wei announced that he’ll be teaming up with iTunes to bring a catalog of local films onto this digital platform through his new company, an Apple iTunes aggregator called A Little Seed. The films section of iTunes is pretty underutilized (admit it, who uses iTunes to download films?). For now, the only local film that’s available for purchase or rental is the classic 1996 comedy about National Service, Army Daze. Singapore’s center for photography and film, Objectifs, have been appointed to curate the catalog. The first wave of films is expected to roll out in June this year, with a good variety of old and recent films like Eric Khoo’s artsy Mee Pok Man, Anthony Chen’s award-winning Ilo Ilo and Boo Junfeng’s first feature film Sandcastle.
We think it’s a great initiative to bring these celebrated films to a much wider audience that goes beyond just special events and festivals. Surprisingly, Netflix, which arrived on our shores in January last year, still doesn’t have a catalog for local films at the moment, although they have an agreement with MediaCorp to stream some of their shows (don’t we already have Toggle for that?).
The full list of films:
• Ilo Ilo by Anthony Chen
• Sandcastle by Boo Junfeng
• 7 Letters by Boo Junfeng, Eric Khoo, Jack Neo, K. Rajagopal, Tan Pin Pin, Royston Tan and Kelvin Tong
• That Girl in Pinafore by Chai Yee Wei
• Singapore GaGa by Tan Pin Pin
• Unlucky Plaza by Ken Kwek
• Distance by Xin Yukun, Tan Shijie and Sivaroj Kongsakul
• Banting by Raihan Halim
• 12 Storeys by Eric Khoo
• Mee Pok Man by Eric Khoo