ATF 2018 ended with SAFF project market 2018; ‘Filipino’, ‘The Carjacker’ and ‘The Women’ emerged as winners

The final day of Asia TV Forum was booked for the fourth edition of Southeast Asian Film Financing (SAFF) conference. SAFF Project Market is a partnership between ScreenSingapore, Southeast Asian Audio-Visual Association (SAAVA) and Ties That Bind: Asia/Europe Producers Workshop (TTB). ScreenSingapore is Southeast Asia’s definitive marketplace for filmmakers, producers, distributors, financiers and film buyers to explore co-production opportunities, seek financing, make deals and stay abreast of the evolving film landscape. The conference and project market is supported by the Asia-Europe Foundation. ScreenSingapore is co-located with the Asia TV Forum & Market and is part of the Singapore Media Festival. ScreenSingapore, together with SAAVA and TTB, announced three producers from the Philippines, Singapore and Myanmar as award recipients of the SAFF Project Market.   After its continued success in 2017, ScreenSingapore once again hosted the SAFF Project Market to connect promising filmmakers and producers from Southeast Asia and Europe with international co-producing partners, festival programmers, distributors, commissioners and financiers. Conceived in 2015 to promote opportunities for the meeting and matching up of film creatives with their investor counterparts, the SAFF Project Market is a platform for promising feature-length projects with Southeast Asian elements to connect with global network of media financiers, distributors and collaborators. By facilitating interaction between producers and key players in the film industry, the initiative strives to grow the standards of filmmaking in the region. Filipino (Philippines) took home the prestigious Cre8 Co- Production Award, while The Carjacker (Singapore)  won the Aurora Media Award and The Women (Myanmar) received the AV8 Award. Filipino is a political thriller set in Cebu, Philippines and revolves around a journalist who sneaks through the blockade and gets intertwined with five individuals trapped in a fatal chess game between fundamental extremists and higher powers. Filipino stood out amongst the finalists for its potential to be commercialised and co-produced across Southeast Asia and beyond, and also for its evocative storytelling. For this project, producer Mel Allego will receive a co-producing financing worth between US$20,000 and US$200,000 from Cre8 Productions. An elated Mel Allego commented, “I’m totally thrilled and gobsmacked! Although this is my first feature length film, I have always had an artistic background, as a dancer and lately as an organiser of the Cebu International Film Festival. This award will certainly go a long way for my passion and love for great storytelling through films.” On his inspiration for a political thriller Allego said, “I always have had (these) thoughts and ideas about my experiences living in contemporary Philippines. I wanted to do a film that is something non-conventional, and get people thinking about what is correct, what is incorrect – against the backdrop of the current uncertain socio-political landscape.” Separately, The Carjacker won the Aurora Media Award that provides co-production financing worth between US$10,000 and US$150,000. Set in a small town in Malaysia, this is a contemporary crime drama of a taxi driver with a violent past, who must hijack a car off the street and deliver it to a mafia boss who is holding this estranged younger brother ransom. Equally thrilled, director and writer Oman Dhas shared, “I am truly amazed – I did not expect to win this award. I am grateful that I got a chance to participate in SAFF, where I was hoping to find potential financiers, co-producers and distributors. But this win will now change everything, and it will also certainly elevate the project’s appeal and eventually help for its fruition.” This year’s SAFF Project Market also honoured an aspiring young producer and a director each with a training voucher worth S$2,000 as part of the AV8 Award. The award went to producer Youngjeong Oh and director The Maw Naing for their work on women’s issues and struggles in Myanmar titled The Women. On the win, producer and writer Oh exclaimed, “It’s totally unexpected! This is our first time participating in the SAFF Project Market and it was a great platform to network with who’s-who from the industry, learn from great experts from the region and the world, and most importantly – it gave a much-needed exposure to the budding Myanmar film industry.” “There have been huge changes for women in the past decade, but the story of about their everyday struggles and rights for women in Myanmar is rather unusual. They are in a dilemma as they aim to catch up of with rest of the world after years of suppression,” director Naing shared in summing up the story. The SAFF Project Market 2018 received submissions from across Southeast Asia, with the 15 finalists representing Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines and Singapore, covering a myriad of genres such as action, drama, horror, science fiction and thriller. Apart from the SAFF Projects, the attendees at Marina Bay Sands also witnessed a host of sessions that started with ‘Europe & Asia: An Insight into Co-Productions And Co-Financing’ with Backup Media Group / Millimages co-Founder / COO Jean-Baptiste Babin, Aurora Global Media Capital managing partner Justin Deimen, Films Distribution A-list Sales Agent Nicolas Brigaud Robert and Ici Et La’ Productions French film producer Christophe Bruncher as the moderator. They discussed the areas of focus in the coming years and understand the practical steps in structuring a co-production through different kinds of considerations.
‘The Women’
ScreenSingapore’s country of focus this year is the Philippines, an emerging powerhouse of content creation in ASEAN with lauded filmmaking talents known across the globe. So the second session saw a spotlight on the  ‘Genre and Artistry’. The speakers present were Star Creatives chief operating officer Malou Santos, Regal Entertainment executive VP Marie Roselle Y. Monteverde, Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia deputy director Mike Hostench, Media East Productions director Mikhail Red accompanied by Ursa Entertainment filmmaker Jessel Monteverde moderating the session. The consecutive sessions of the day were ‘The Asean Film Economy: The Trends And Movement Ahead’, ‘Funding the Idea: Success in the development process’ and ‘Film and Finance: Opportunities across the Pacific Rim’. Both ATF and SAFF Project Market promises to be bigger and better next year with the confluence of creative minds and business experts.