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Meet The Family: Tan Bee Thiam

By True Colors Festival Team

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January 21, 2021

Here at True Colors Festival, we are a big family of artists, creators and planners. In this first instalment of the Meet the Family series, get acquainted with Tan Bee Thiam, curator of the True Colors Film Festival 2020.

Name: Tan Bee Thiam

Accolades: Director, Tiong Bahru Social Club (2020); Co-director, Fundamentally Happy (2015)

True Colors Festival event: True Colors Film Festival 2020

Event date: 3 to 31 December 2020

About the event: An online film festival that offered a selection of films that reflects the “One World, One Family” theme—one that speaks of the pressing need for greater awareness of differences, acceptance and celebration of human diversity. True Colors Film Festival showcased these issues through beautiful, thought-provoking and award-winning works by talented filmmakers from Asia and beyond. 

Q: What was the selection criteria for the True Colors Film Festival 2020?

We looked for films that added to our understanding of what an inclusive and diverse “One World One Family” could be like. The films cover themes about disability, female representation, gender and sexuality issues, poverty and adversity, and racism.

Q: What were you hoping to achieve through the film festival?

We hoped that the carefully curated film selection would deepen people’s understanding of what an inclusive world could be. We also hoped that by watching the films, our audience would be equipped with the vocabulary and sensitivity to discuss social issues such as disability, so that dialogues around these issues can take place, leading to greater representation.

The Chess Game of the Wind (1976; Iran), is every bit as dramatic as its discovery, and certainly not to be missed.

Q: What was a memorable experience putting the festival together?

A memorable experience was during the online dialogue session with Portuguese-based filmmaker Ana Rocha De Sousa (Listen), who teared when she shared about a personal experience. It was a moving moment and we were fortunate to have filmmakers who were so giving and generous with their creations, thoughts and ideas. Such intimate online sessions have the potential of bringing people closer together even though we are physically apart.

Watch the dialogue session “Separation, Injustice, Family… Where Does Innocence Lie?” on Vimeo.

Q: Can you share an insight as to how the pandemic has changed film festivals?

The pandemic has made it possible for an audience to view screenings and dialogue sessions with filmmakers online and in the comfort of their homes. In the past, the  lifespan of a new film is about one to two years, as it tours from country to country around the world through film festivals and film distribution, before it goes on Video on Demand platforms.

With the pandemic, it is theoretically possible to have just one global world premiere, a shorter and more impactful marketing and publicity campaign and a longer shelf life for the film to be shown to the online audience, beyond a one-to-two-week festival. Watch parties and even live audience reactions are possible though they have not been widely adopted.

But is that what we want? Convenience and efficiency? I personally hope that day won’t come so soon and that film festivals will continue to be an event that audience members can look forward to seeing the most exciting works on the big screen together.

Watch True Colors Film Festival 2020 short films & dialogues on Vimeo

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True Colors Festival 2020/2021

True Colors Festival (TCF) presented by The Nippon Foundation is a series of performing arts events presented across geographies, in celebration of diversity and inclusion as “One World One Family.”

Through festivals since 2006 in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore, and Japan, TCF has presented more than 1,100 performing artists from more than 30 countries and attracted more than 40,000 people.

The re-start of TCF 2020/2021 marks its commitment to tap on the power of the arts to connect artists and audiences in experiences such as music videos, film screenings, children’s programs, musicals, concerts, and workshops.

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