Film is at the heart of everything we do, but look closer and you uncover a community that is #morethanjustfilm.

So what does it actually mean? From Singapore to Yogyakarta to Los Angeles, from The Projector to Regent Street Cinema and beyond, more than 40 people shared with us about the independent spirit, the filmmaking craft, and the community of film lovers around them.

Find their thoughts and responses below, and join the conversation on Instagram (@sgiffest).


Erika Lim

SAN FRANCISCO. Student. Four Star Theatre.

What’s special about watching a film at a film festival?
Recently, a good friend of mine wrote and directed an independent short about the spread of Ebola in a small village in West Africa called “Out of the Village”. He screened it for me while it was still in production, and we went into discussions about the music and how a slight skew in a drum beat or stretch of a sound can make a huge difference on the emotional journey that the film leads you on. Many times, as a spectator, you don’t really think about how all the elements of a film are precisely composed to create the entire work. It was beautiful to have a perspective from the inside out. This is why indie film festivals exist–to give the masses access to conversations with the filmmakers and give them an inside look into the intricacies that make the film a beautiful whole.


Tan Eng Chong

LONDON. Director of Operations. Richmix.

Any tips for first-time festivalgoers?
Go with an open mind and watch with your heart.


Nguyen Thanh Binh

HO CHI MINH CITY. Filmmaker. Saigon Opera House.

How do you convince a friend to watch an independent film?
I usually start with the story. Give them a good brief about the plot summary, what the highlights are: the twist, the peak, film mood, the director or cast, etc.
In fact, the story is a good start for all kinds of film, whether commercial or independent or arthouse. Not all people care if one film isn’t produced by a big name, but everyone likes to hear a good, inspiring story.


Tammie Chew

SINGAPORE. Actress. The Arts House.

Have you had the chance to meet a director at a film festival or Q&A session? What left an impression?
I remember the Q&A session after watching “Standing In Still Water” by Ric Aw at last year’s SGIFF. I really like the way the audience asked questions about the film, and their genuine interest in knowing more about the director’s perspectives. It’ll be awesome if we have more of such interest and support from the public.


Jason Iskandar

JAKARTA. Filmmaker. Kineforum.

About Kineforum
When I made my first short film in 2007, as a 17-year-old high school student, my film was screened in this theatre. Seeing people coming to a theatre to watch your film, seeing your name in the credit title–I would never forget that moment.


Lien Chen

LOS ANGELES. Marketing. Downtown Independent.

Why do you watch independent films? I watch independent films for the non-mainstream point-of-view on characters, relationships and ideas. Often times highly-produced movies are structured so well, they are no longer a real representation of life. The story lines become too clean and convenient. Life is jarring and messy, and independent films capture that wonderfully human side.


Michael Kam

SINGAPORE. Filmmaker/Lecturer. Shaw Theatres at Lot 1, Choa Chu Kang.

As a filmmaker, what does it mean for your film to be shown at foreign film festivals?
It’s great to have your work shown beyond our local shores. I get to be able to share my film with people from different cultures, to have a dialogue and to discover new insights through those conversations.

When was the first time you attended a film festival?
The Singapore International Film Festival was my first exposure to international works. I can’t remember what was the first film I saw, but the earliest film that made a lasting impression for me was Aki Kaurismaki’s The Man Without A Past. It was one of my first “wow” encounters with cinema that was funny and sad, and a really great journey. Another film that blew me away was the Filipino film Slingshot. I was late for a screening and wandered into the wrong cinema, where this film had just started. By the time I realized I was catching the wrong film, it was too late, I was totally sucked into this brilliant film which kept me in it all the way till its breathtaking end.