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Although Singapore gained independence in 1965, it took more than 25 years for the first fully funded Singaporean film to be released. With the passage of time, the cinema produced in the country has switched gears, moving from a rudimentary thematic apparatus and plunging into the social consciousness of a nation.

The Singapore Film Festival being organized from Monday by the Singapore high commission presents an opportunity for cineastes and the curious alike to gauge the creative potential of a nation otherwise renowned as a tourism and shopping destination.

The programme is marked by the presence of young film-makers, from Royston Tan—who made his debut feature film at the age of 27—to Boo Junfeng, whose first feature film was screened at the prestigious International Critics’ Week at the Cannes film festival in 2010. The 2007 film, 881, is 35-year-old Tan’s riposte to detractors who alleged that “both Eric Khoo and Royston Tan fall into the category of those who only make films for themselves to watch". It is the story of two girls who are entranced by glitz, glamour and the prospect of performing on stage one day. Tan was vindicated when it
become the second highest grossing film in the history of Singapore.

If Tan is the face of young Singaporean cinema, Junfeng is a major upcoming talent. Sandcastle, his debut feature, has En, an 18-year-old on the verge of military service, discovering first love and a trove of family secrets from the past.

Despite international recognition for directors like Khoo and Tan, Junfeng says, “It is very difficult for producers to compete with big foreign imports." A view echoed by Tan, who considers the commercial-arthouse dialectic fundamental to shaping the future of Singaporean cinema.

The Singapore Film Festival is on from 1-3 October at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. For the schedule, visit sg/content/mfa/overseasmission/new_delhi/events.html.

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