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August 6, 2001 2:00 AM
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DAILY NEWS: Ray Officially at UA; Short Films in Singapore

DAILY NEWS: Ray Officially at UA; Short Films in Singapore


>> MGM Confirms Plans for UA: Indiewood Studio Moving to NYC with
Bingham Ray at the Helm

(indieWIRE/08.03.01) -- MGM made it official yesterday (Thursday), naming
October Films Co-Founder Bingham Ray the President of United Artists (UA),
its specialty film division. UA will relocate to New York as part of the
pact with Ray.

"Bingham is one of the most talented and highly regarded independent
filmmakers in the business," commented MGM vice-chairman and COO Chris
McGurk
in a prepared statement. "I have worked with Bingham for many years
dating back to his days as head of October Films, and I believe that his
inherent passion for filmmaking, combined with his impeccable creative
instincts, make him the ideal choice to lead United Artists and further
advance its unparalleled legacy."

Ray will take the helm on September 1st. Crossroads, the company that
Bingham Ray joined earlier this year, will maintain its deal with the
studio. [Eugene Hernandez]


>> Postcard from Singapore: American Short Shorts On the Road


(indieWIRE/08.03.01) -- Ah...beautiful Singapore...rickshaws, chicken
rice, and...short films? As yet another sign that the world arts community
has a growing interest in the art of the short film, American Short Shorts
successfully invaded the small city/state with its July 11-14 festival.

Founded two years ago by Los Angeles-based Producer Douglas Williams and
Tokyo-based Executive Director Tetsuya Bessho, the 2001 installment marks
the first time the festival has crossed its Japanese borders and pulled into
Singapore's port -- the Southeast Asian city/country best known these days
for outlawing gum and dishing out corporal punishment to an American
teenager guilty of vandalism.

Organized in association with The Substation, the local 'multi-disciplinary,
multi-media, multi-cultural and multi-lingual arts center,' the festival
sold out each of its 4 screenings, which underscores the success of the
festival with the American-savvy Singaporean audience. According to Festival
Executive Wahyuni Hadi, "because American culture is so predominate in
Singapore people are not in a big hurry to see American films like Japan. So
we had to think of how we were going to sell it and we sold it through
artistic merit, which I think the films we are showing deserve."

Shortened from the Japanese program in order to appease the local government
censors and fit the allotted time frame, Singapore highlights included Jason
Reitman
's "In God We Trust," Michael Horowitz and Gareth Smith's "This Guy
is Falling
," Sam Hoffman's "The Ride Home," Rebecca Rodriguez's "Soul
Collectors
," Marc-Andreas Bochert's "Kleingeld" and David Greenspan's "Ohagi
(Bean Cake)." To give some perspective on the use of short filmmaking in an
artist's development, the program also included Tim Burton's animated
student film "Vincent." Despite some of the technical limitations -- all
films were transferred and projected on video, the program succeeded in its
mission: to expose the diverse art of short filmmaking to a new Asian
audience.

This focus on short film comes at an important time in the reconstitution of
Singaporean cinema. While the country has many theaters that are
technologically up to par with or exceed American standards, local
production has been limited to about 2 to 3 features a year. Go to any
theater and you'll find that they are filled with American or Hong Kong
imports.

The last decade has seen a few homegrown hits, which include Eric Khoo's "12
Storeys
" (1997), T.L. Tay's "Money No Enough" (1998), and Chee Kong Cheah's
"Chicken Rice War" (2000). Director Glenn Goei's debut dance movie "Forever
Feve
r" (1998) was the first feature from Singapore to find a U.S. release.
It was picked up by Miramax and subsequently retitled "That's the Way I Like
It
."

As nervous business interests flee from a post-English Hong Kong looking for
a safe business harbor, Singaporeans are beginning to realize that they have
the opportunity to develop their own artistic voice. In response to this
growing interest in Singaporean cinema, the Singapore Film Commission was
established in 1999 to "nurture, support and promote Singapore talent in
filmmaking, the production of Singapore films and a film industry in
Singapore."

Singapore has discovered that short films are the perfect foundation for
this new voice and the Singapore Film commission is handing out funding
accordingly. Thus far, 34 short films have received up to S$5,000 each, 2
features have received up to S$250,000, and 5 Singaporeans or permanent
residents have been awarded up to S$100,000 each for undergraduate or
post-graduate film studies overseas. Not a bad start for a 646 square
kilometer country with a population of 3.1 million.

According to Wong Wai Leng, Assistant Director of the Singapore Film
Commission, "We believe that if [Singaporeans] really want to make
[filmmaking] a career, it's really best to start making short films."

Using American Short Shorts as a testing ground, according to Festival
Executive Wahyuni Hadi, The Substation is planning on starting its own short
film festival in December that will focus on Asian short films. This
coincides with an important change within the American Short Shorts Film
Festival. Starting next year, the festival is dropping the "American" and
transforming into the Short Shorts Film Festival. No doubt, Singaporeans
will have more to contribute in future installments. [Tim LaTorre in Singapore]

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