SINGAPORE:More than 1,200 entries have been submitted to Project Lapis Sagu, a contest to produce a film focusing on cultural diversity.
Part of ongoing efforts to promote greater understanding and mutual respect between locals and foreigners, the project is spearheaded by the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI), in collaboration with local filmmakers Eric Khoo, Kelvin Tong, K Rajagopal and Sanif Olek.
The 1,209 entries, which were submitted by the closing date of Dec 11, came from people of varying ages, nationalities and professions who are all vying to be one of the four winning short film ideas picked by the filmmakers and MCI. The winning projects will receive a cash prize of S$5,000 each as well as the opportunity to be mentored by the four filmmakers, who will help produce a screenplay and bring the winning story idea to life on the big screen in March.
According to an MCI press release, the competition entries, in keeping with the idea of addressing issues of social integration and cultural diversity, offer interesting and multiple perspectives on the challenges and opportunities presented by an increasingly diverse Singapore. The story ideas ranged from zombie apocalypse tales to sci-fi fantasies, intercultural love stories, workplace conflicts and neighbourly tensions.
“The entries come from a broad range of genres. What’s interesting is that a lot of them are about food,” observed Tong. “So perhaps it is food that obsesses Singaporeans as well as non-Singaporeans.”
Shortlisting is currently underway, followed by further story development with the four directors for the chosen entries. The entries will be shortlisted based on their relevance to the theme of social integration, potential to be developed into a compelling story, as well as originality and creativity.
While all four filmmakers were in unison about the variety and volume of entries, Rajagopal said he is “more inclined towards the more challenging and dramatic ones”.
For Khoo, it is all about the story. “A good story will keep you absorbed and focused on what's happening,” he shared.
As for Sanif, he was fascinated by the treatments written by amateurs. “They are really impressive,” he said. “And they have the potential to be turned into great films.”
Said Karen Tan, Senior Director of Public Communications Division, MCI: “We are pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming response from the public for the Lapis Sagu Film Contest. The topic of social integration and cultural diversity is close to the hearts of people in Singapore ... We hope the stories will strike a chord, deepen understanding and strengthen bonds among various communities here, locals and foreigners.”