Homegrown Design Film Festival spreads its wings
SINGAPORE — Since it started in 2010, A Design Film Festival has quietly become an event for design lovers. Last year, it drew a crowd of 6,500 people, with 21 of its 23 screenings sold out. Its profile has continued to grow as it prepares to kicks off its fifth edition on Sept 5. More than half of its tickets are already sold out, and it’s the first film festival to be held at the reopened Capitol Theatre (part of the screenings will also be held at Shaw Lido theatres).
The festival, organised by Singaporean design studio Anonymous, is also making its global presence felt: It debuted in Bangkok last month and will be in New York in October.
“While we have been previously invited to take Design Film Festival to cities such as Bangkok in 2010 and Portland in 2012, they were on a smaller scale (three to five films), and were typically fringe events as part of a much larger event,” explained festival director and Anonymous creative director Felix Ng. “The international editions in Bangkok and New York this year are on the same scale as the one we’ve been organising in Singapore, with 10 films.”
Films chosen reflect the design trends and challenges in each city. The festival in Bangkok was curated in partnership with Thailand Creative and Design Centre, focusing on design processes as design literacy is not very widespread in the city. New York’s edition, held in conjunction with creative conference Brooklyn 1.0, zooms in on the “whys and hows” in keeping with the conference theme.
As for Singapore, where issues of craftsmanship, cross-disciplinary designs, crowdfunding and entrepreneurship are pertinent, Ng pointed out that films such as Capital C (the first feature-length documentary on crowdfunding) would prove insightful, while Hand Made With Love In France, a moving film about craftsmanship, strikes a chord given the rising popularity and trend of handmade and bespoke items.
A Design Film Festival is travelling beyond New York and Bangkok as well — thanks to Singapore Airlines. For the second year running, the airline’s entertainment system KrisWorld will screen films from the event on all international flights from October to December. To top it off, Anonymous is producing a range of socks to mark this year’s festival in collaboration with local lifestyle store Supermama.
“Supermama is working with a traditional sock maker in Nara, Japan, and felt that the patchwork graphics we designed for DFF would be interesting when applied on tabi socks. So we created 10 different designs to showcase the multi-faceted roles of designers such as specialist and multidisciplinary,” explained Ng. “It used to be that a graphic designer was someone who produced logos, editorial layouts and designs books. Today, a graphic designer designs spaces, creates new products, curates exhibitions, directs films, makes music and art.
Little wonder then that with the expanding role of designer and design consciousness, a festival like this has found a firm niche in our cultural landscape.