To the O.P.E.N Film Audience, by Tan Bee Thiam

July 2, 2015

This is an essay by the curator of The OPEN Film which appears in our brochure for Week 3. I thought I'd share it with our readers.

I love to look at the audience during screenings. Who are you? How would you respond to these films that we’ve put together? 

Watching the films again with an audience is always a special experience. I feel like I am a matchmaker, setting up a date between you and the film. Would you walk out? Or would the film stay with you after the screening? 

As a curator, I don’t think there’s a bad film in The O.P.E.N. It’s a matter of finding the right audience for each film. Finding that fit is the challenge. If a curator is a matchmaker, writing the programme notes for each film is like preparing its local Tinder account. You may have read ‘About Me’ (the synopsis). Or you may well have selected who to date based on the photo (the film poster). It would be ideal if there could be a platform that enables us to have private conversations to ‘get to know each other’ before our meeting (the screening) to ensure we have a fruitful date. Maybe next year!

An audience member is also like an investor. There are safe investors who look for blue-chip stocks, the films I know would have no problems in filling the halls should we get them past the censors - The Tribe, The Act Of Killing, The Look Of Silence and Citizenfour. These are films that Singaporeans have heard of and look forward to seeing on the big screen. 

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And then, there are audiences who are like early-stage venture capitalists, looking for raw gems – little films by filmmakers who are still not known to many Singaporeans like Battles by Isabelle Tollenaere and Under Electric Clouds by Aleksei German Jr. Some curators are surprised that even contemporary masters like Pedro Costa, João Pedro Rodrigues, João Rui Guerra da Mata and Pablo Larraín have not yet had their works shown in Singapore. These films usually do not get much publicity, even if they have been presented in prestigious festivals. Neither would you find them on BitTorrent. And, like a lot of start-ups, if these little films are not supported, they will wither away. Your support is, therefore, especially crucial to their development. 

Whether you are a blue-chip investor or an early-stage venture capitalist, I would like to thank you for investing your time, money and emotions in supporting cinema and the arts. Thank you for being there to watch these films together. Thank you for being invested. I hope you’ve had wonderful dates at the cinema with The O.P.E.N Films.

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  • 2015