How is the process of bringing in films for Anticipate different from those at mainstream distributors?
“Larger distributors have films that are supplied via their studio headquarters based in Los Angeles, so for example the Disney distributor here would get all the Pixar, Marvel films to distribute in cinemas, and don’t have the autonomy to buy films outside their slate. We cherry-pick our films directly from film festivals and release only about eight titles each year, thus ensuring tight curation and a very up-to-date slate, and we often show the films at the same time as the U.S. or UK theatrical releases, sometimes even slightly earlier.”
What’s on your list of criteria when choosing a film to bring in?
“Buzz from the critics and audiences at the festival where the film has world premiered. Talent involved in the film – meaning stars, either celebrities or acclaimed directors. Topicality of the content. Marketable subject matter. These are just a few of the reasons for why we acquire what we acquire.”
What’s your take on Singapore’s film industry currently? Is there adequate support from authorities and audiences?
“On a whole there has been a growth in appreciation for independent films thanks to places like The Projector, who are one of our exhibition partners, the Internet and higher standards of living that allows people here to self-actualise. But to be blunt about it, there is zero support from the government for a company like mine, because we don’t invest in local productions. Which government body would justify spending public money on a company that invests solely in distributing foreign films? My argument is if you don’t invest in cultural companies who are incorporated and run by locals, whom face immense challenges bringing world cinema into Singapore, then your local talent generating the content that you provide grants for will not be able to easily access what is considered to be a global standard of world cinema, thereby understanding the landscape of world cinema at the highest echelons, where our own works from Singapore can be situated.
In an alternate universe, I would have started Anticipate Pictures as a non-profit organisation. It feels a lot like that sometimes.”
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