New Perspectives After a Decade

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of Perspectives Film Festival, this year’s iteration was extended to span over two weekends and featured virtual reality films for the first time.

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A week before its launch, Perspectives Film Festival 2017 faced a logistical problem that sent its crew scrambling.

The team had to figure out a way to quickly transport to Singapore the digital cinema package to Rungano Nyoni’s debut feature “I Am Not A Witch,” which was then being screened at the Busan International Film Festival in South Korea. The DCP had to be submitted to the Info-communications Media Development Authority before the movie could be aired in Singapore.



“Any delays in shipping the DCP — the film’s original digital cinema audio, image, and data files — could cost us our screening,” said PFF 2017 festival co-director Tiffany Soh (CS’18). “Luckily, some students from our team were attending BIFF for the Overseas Film Festival Practicum, so one of them hand-carried the precious cargo back to Singapore.”

Despite the unexpected obstacle ahead of its opening, Soh and her team went on to put together the largest lineup in the festival’s history. Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the festival was hosted in arthouse venues such as the National Museum of Singapore and the Alliance Francaise de Singapour. For this year, the festival, held over two weekends in October, showcased eleven films instead of the usual eight.

This year, festival co-directors Matthew Chew (CS’18) and Soh set out to curate a selection of films for the festival under the theme, “Rebels.” With VR as a new feature, the student-organised festival saw the screening of six VR short films, including two from the Google Spotlight Stories, “Pearl” and “Special Delivery.” The Google Spotlight Stories is an Oscar-nominated, Emmy award-winning platform exploring narrative using mobile 360, VR, and room-scale VR headsets.

“There were many sub-themes we wanted to explore, like rebellious directors, content, and novel uses of technology, which is how we landed on VR,” said Soh. “By curating a diverse set of films from all parts of the world and across various time periods, we do justice to rebels in every shape and form.”

“By curating a diverse set of films from all parts of the world and across various time periods, we do justice to rebels in every shape and form.”

Tiffany SohPFF 2017 Festival Co-Director

PFF is the only student-run film festival in Singapore. The practicum course offers students an opportunity to learn about the various aspects of planning for a film festival.

Planning this year took 10 months, twice the amount of time spent on previous iterations. “The longer preparation time was a decision made by our faculty supervisors, as they wanted to take things to a larger scale for this year’s tenth anniversary,” said Soh.

The festival also included a panel discussion with local artists from the VR field, such as Rajesh Chakravarthy, Academic Director at MAGES Institute of Excellence, and Lionel Chok of VR firm iMMERSiVELY. The panel explored how technology influences storytelling and the challenges and opportunities faced while working with VR.

PFF’s founding faculty member Senior Lecturer Nikki Draper expressed her excitement for the festival’s “Women In Charge” series, namely “The Apple” by Samira Makhmalba, “The Lure” by Agnieszka Smoczynsk, and “I Am Not A Witch."

“I think focusing on women’s presence on the set and behind the camera is very timely given recent research on the low participation of women in film and television,” said Draper. “Filmmaking is a tough business no matter who you are but women face additional obstacles — case in point, the recent news about sexual harassment in the industry.”

After ten years with PFF, Draper envisions even greater things for the decade ahead.

“I hope that we manage to expand our course offerings to include a robust online presence in addition to theatrical screenings and ancillary events,” she said. “I’d like for our site to evolve into a regular publication of young critics' writing and visual essays, as well as potentially curating work like interactive pieces, VR, and games.”