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Perspectives Film Festival director Nanthinee Shree shares how festival moved online

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This year's Perspectives Film Festival, Singapore’s first and longest student-run festival of its kind, runs from Oct 23 to Nov 1.

The last quarter of the year in Singapore is traditionally a treat for film buffs with the slew of film festivals lined up, including several hosted by embassies and the Singapore International Film Festival. 

Since 2007, the Perspectives Film Festival (PFF), Singapore's first and longest student-run of its kind, has steadily etched its mark on calendars to join these festivals as one of the fourth quarter's marquee events. 

Undeterred by the global pandemic, the film festival, in partnership with independent cinema The Projector, returns in 2020 with its curation of films all available for rental streaming online. 

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PFF 2020 runs from Oct 23 to Nov 1.
PHOTO CREDIT: PERSPECTIVES FILM FESTIVAL WEBSITE 

Bringing to life the festival's first-ever digital edition was, understandably, no small feat for the team. 

"When we started planning for the festival earlier this year, we had no reference points or any tested format to emulate. Bigger local and international film festivals were either postponing their events or just beginning to plan their virtual editions too," shared Nanthinee Shree, one of the two co-festival directors of this year's edition. 

"The team did a lot of research to decide which platform we were going to present the films on, how were we going to recreate the festival experience for viewers at home and most importantly, how were viewers going to receive this new festival experience." 

These were uncharted waters that Nanthinee had to navigate the team through. Their main concern was to assess the technical feasibility of hosting a festival virtually while looking to retain the core festival-going experience. Together with co-festival director Ryan Lim, she oversaw the conceptualisation, planning and execution of the film festival as well. 

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Planning for the festival happened over Zoom during the circuit breaker.
PHOTO CREDIT: NANTHINEE SHREE 

Being a student-run film festival also meant that even without a pandemic, the team would have the added challenge of having to juggle between schoolwork and their roles as well. Thankfully, most of the work happened during the students' holidays. 

"A lot of the planning and research for the festival happened before the academic year began. Hence, there was ample time for me to orientate myself towards the responsibilities that came with my role," said Nanthinee Shree, who is currently in the fourth-year of her Bachelor's Degree in Communication and Information programme at Nanyang Technological University. 

"Once school began, I did have some trouble getting used to school full-time and overseeing the festival. It really helped that I had such a motivated team to work with and made sure I was not alone on this journey!" 

The team's collective hard work would pay off and PFF 2020 packs a strong lineup of films from across the world all converging around this year's theme, "Truth". The films are available for viewing anytime during the festival period. 

"After careful deliberation and recognising the relevance of truth in today's social, cultural and political climate, we settled on the theme. Through our lineup, we hope to present alternative stories, unearth realities that diverge and inspire viewers to examine potential blind spots in their perceptions of truth," explained Nanthinee. 

Indeed, from documentary Feels Good Man's exploration of the distortion of the Pepe the Frog meme to controversial Israeli thriller Incitement, each of the eight curated picks will highlight the fickle nature of truth and how what is true differs between people. 

Not only will PFF's website be the festival's main hub, it also hosts a set of insightful written analyses based on the festival's lineup.

For Nanthinee, her favourite out of the lineup is American drama Farewell Amor which explores how an immigrant family from Angola reunites in America after 17 years. 

"I have grown to appreciate documentaries during the curation process for the Perspectives Film Festival. However, I can't deny my love for dramas," she elaborated. 

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Heartfelt drama Farewell Amor recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival where it was nominated for the prestigious Grand Jury Prizes.
PHOTO CREDIT: PARK PICTURES 

"The story is told through the disparate perspectives of the members in the family. Director Ekwa Msangi aces the detailed portrayal of fractured family relationships and beautifully unveils each of their insecurities, uncertainties and aspirations through her narrative style." 

Ultimately, Nanthinee is keenly aware that realising a film festival is by no means an individual effort. 

She said: "I have to thank the entire team for being so patient and ever-ready to face the challenges that came our way. Despite the many uncertainties, they believed in our collective vision and have made this festival possible." 

For more information on PFF 2020, visit its website or follow its Facebook page

BANNER AND TEASER PHOTO CREDIT: NANTHINEE SHREE

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