Asian storytelling will take centrestage at Southeast Asia’s leading international media event, Singapore Media Festival (SMF), as it returns for its third edition this year from 23 November to 9 December 2016.

Hosted by the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) of Singapore, SMF brings together the region’s distinguished talent and exciting film and TV content, and is a gateway to a wider audience in Asia and beyond.

Mr Robert Gilby, Chairman of the Singapore Media Festival Advisory Board and Managing Director of The Walt Disney Company (SEA), said, “Asia’s diverse cultures, heritage and communities have led to the creation of inspiring and innovative stories that have both relevance and resonance with an international audience. SMF was established as a platform to identify and nurture the next generation of storytellers in this region, with guidance and mentorship from industry veterans from across Asia.”

This year’s SMF constituent events include the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF), Asia TV Forum & Market (ATF), ScreenSingapore (SS), and Asian Television Awards (ATA).

A series of festival firsts

Echoing the festival’s theme of “Celebrating Asian Storytelling”, a new keystone digital event will be launched in recognition of the rich opportunities in the age of digital disruption. SMF Ignite brings together digital content creators to learn, experience and create through an exciting line-up of interactive workshops and insightful conference tracks in various fields led by industry thought leaders. It aims to highlight current digital trends and complement the different and new entertainment formats to be shown at the festival.

Budding digital content creators can look forward to meeting with leading industry players including Maker Studios, StyleHaul and Dailymotion to gain insights and exchange ideas on new innovation topics like virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and gaming. The event is slated to be a recurring component of the annual Festival.

Besides SMF Ignite, this year’s ATF will see the debut of ATF Formats Pitch, a pitching competition for creators and producers of innovative concepts for new and original, non-scripted entertainment formats. Backed by global partner all3media International (UK), the winner will not only walk away with SGD$20,000 worth of full-suite consultancy and cash support, but the winning format will also have a chance to be aired.

Other festival firsts include two associate events, namely CASBAA Spotlight Series: Emerging Southeast Asian Markets, a one-day conference offering insights on a chosen Asian market or sector, and ciNE65, a Singapore-centric short film competition.

Grooming Asian filmmaking talents

Asian storytellers are undeniably the linchpins of SMF and festival organisers have made sure to give them the spotlight. SGIFF will be highlighting the works of three Singapore filmmakers –Mr K Rajagopal, Ms Gladys Ng and the late Mr Abdul Nizam.

Amongst them, Ms Ng’s short film, The Pursuit of a Happy Human Life, will make its world premiere on the opening day. This short film is the first work by a Singaporean filmmaker to be commissioned under a new SGIFF initiative to further encourage the growth of the local film scene. Incidentally, Ms Ng won the Best Singapore Short Film at the festival last year.

In its bid to groom Asian filmmaking talents, ScreenSingapore has partnered with the Southeast Asian Audio-Visual Association (SAAVA) for a second edition of the region’s largest film financing platform, Southeast Asian Film Financing (SAFF) Project Market 2016. After an overwhelming submission of entries last year, SAFF Project Market 2016 will feature up to 15 projects, up from 10 in its inaugural year. A panel of international film industry experts will shortlist from a mix of fiction and non-fiction feature-length projects.

Asian storytelling for television

Often the most star-studded event in SMF, this year’s ATA will feature popular artistes such as Singaporean Mandopop singer-songwriter JJ Lin and British pop star Charli XCX.

Another highlight is the Award for Outstanding Contribution to Asian Television, which seeks to recognise individuals who have made distinguishing contributions to the television industry in Asia Pacific and beyond. This year’s award goes to Ko Dae-young, President and CEO of Korean Broadcasting System (KBS), the broadcaster behind the wildly popular K-drama, Descendants of the Sun.

More than 20,000 media industry players and members of the public gathered for SMF last year, which grossed US$263 million (S$360 million) in film, television and digital content collaborations and sales. The third edition of SMF is expected to gather a similar turnout and business opportunities.

More information on the Singapore Media Festival can be found on