Here at True Colors Festival, we are one big family of artists, creators and planners. In this first instalment of the Meet the Family series, get acquainted with Teo Swee Leng, producer of the first True Colors Film Festival in 2020 and co-producer of the second, held in December 2021.
By True Colors Festival Team
Name: Teo Swee Leng
Accolades: Swee Leng’s work in arts management began in the mid 1980s when she was an administrator/producer in a local theater company. Today, after organizing 20 editions of the Singapore International Film Festival, she continues to produce and organize film festivals and arts-related events for educational and arts institutions in Singapore and the region.
Q: First, tell us how you came to be a film festival professional. Was there a particular film that cemented your desire to work in this space, and how so?
I worked with the founding team of the first edition of the Singapore International Film Festival in 1987 and continued working for 20 more editions. Those 20 years provided a strong foundation to connect worldwide with filmmakers, distributors, fellow film festival professionals, film critics and audiences. The focus on Asian Cinema at the Singapore International Film Festival cemented my desire to work in this space and to be at the forefront of promoting and creating a network for Asian Cinema through organizing film screenings, publications, symposiums and educational outreach activities.
Q: As one of the producers of TCFF 2021, how do you feel about the audience numbers greatly surpassing that of 2020?
I was relieved that the TCFF 2021 numbers surpassed that of 2020. In a pandemic situation and with so many choices of online programming available for viewers, we had to stay focused and work hard to reach out to as many audiences as possible. The team developed several strategies and we are happy that the viewership increased.
Q: How did the programming team choose the films? What was the selection criteria?
The programming team researched and watched many films from all over the world on issues of disability, gender, discrimination, migration, adversity, racism and woman representation. We looked for films that would raise questions and reflect the vision of a more inclusive world. The films were carefully curated to raise the awareness and understanding of what an inclusive and diverse One World, One Family could be like.
Q: What were you hoping to achieve through the second edition of the film festival?
Film has a unique power to inspire, change perceptions, raise awareness and educate. Through watching these films that we have curated, we hoped that audiences would deepen their understanding and reflect on the vision of a more inclusive world.
Q: The theme of 2021 was “Perspectives”. Has the festival changed your own perspectives, and if so, in what way?
The festival has provided us a platform to discuss issues such as disability and accessibility, diversity and inclusion and equipped us with the sensitivity and a cause to continue these dialogues and inspire change.
Q: The message of True Colors Festival is “One World One Family” – what do these words mean to you?
The vision and purpose of True Colors Festival is unique and most needed in these challenging times. With so much disparity and adversity in the world now, the vision of One World One Family brings hope and human connection.