The fourth year of A Design Film Festival wrapped up recently, to much success and a growing attendance that far surpassed previous years. With a solid selection of films to catch and its new central Shaw Lido venue, audiences were treated to two weekends of handpicked selections from all over the world—topics ranging from design, art, street art, to even the food ecology of rice—that blurred the lines between design and art. We caught the founders, Felix and Germaine from Anonymous, for a quick chat to find out a little more on the inner workings of DFF.
This year’s venue is a unique one compared to previous years, where they were held at Old School and SOTA. How did Shaw Lido come into the picture?
F: Ever since the land that Old School were was returned to the authorities, the biggest challenge for us is sustainability. The venue rental was waived by Old School in 2010 and 2011, and that helped us to focus our efforts into the programming, but since 2013, we’ve had to cover the venue rental all by ourselves. We approached several venues since last August to be a venue sponsor but unfortunately, we haven’t been lucky so far so we just had to work much harder to make the rental cost work. We paid full corporate rental rates to Shaw Lido, just like we did last year at SOTA. So we are very, very lucky and thankful to have our community sponsors, RJ Paper and Chatsworth Media Academy who chipped in to help make it happen.
If we’re allowed to be a little curious on the behind-the-scenes— how did the idea of getting SIA on board as a partner come about?
F: Singapore Airlines wrote to us earlier in the year to ask if we were interested to collaborate with them on curating films from our past and present editions on their inflight entertainment system, KrisWorld. Initially we were skeptical about what a small event like DFF could offer a world class airline, but when we met up with their team for a chat, we realised that we both had a shared belief that the knowledge of design should be shared and enjoyed by all.
G: When we started the Festival in 2010, our goal was to showcase design through a medium that appeals to designers and non-designers. We see the partnership with Singapore Airlines this year as a milestone not for us, but one for the design industry — that will see the Festival and its films reaching an international audience upwards of 50,000 passengers that travel with SIA daily.
It’s DFF’s fourth year running and we’re curious—how has its growth affected the festival?
F: The growth has been very encouraging and we’re very proud to see familiar faces each year.
G: The biggest change for me is as we grow, while we get to see a lot of familiar faces coming back, we also make a lot of new friends from different professions and different parts of the world. Seeing how the Festival is increasingly bringing people together despite their different backgrounds and nationalities has been very rewarding.
It’s so impressive that Anonymous, being a small outfit, is able to plan such a large-scale festival that grows exponentially every year.
F: Well, we do get our rest. We rarely work past 7pm because Germaine and I have to head home to feed our cats… Otherwise they’d be tearing up the house.
The week leading up to the Festival, we went home by about seven in the evening, almost everyday. We did start earlier than usual at 6.30 am on a handful of days, when we had our screen tests before regular movie screenings at Lido.
G: Truth is, you don’t feel tired when you’re doing something you enjoy and believe in. Sure, there’s a bit of withdrawal symptoms post-festival, but that’s just our bodies reminding us we aren’t getting younger!
Amazing dedication. So what’s in the future pipelines for DFF? Will we see even bigger things in 2015?
G: One of our hopes for the festival is to see more regional film submissions. Asia is so rich in culture and diversity, we hope more filmmakers will be motivated to make more films on our creative industries.
F: DFF is nothing without great films, so we will continue running it as long as there are films relevant to the audience because we know that’s what brings people back year after year.
Looking forward to the next one, guys. Until next year.
Photos courtesy of Anonymous
Interview by Shannon E. Wee
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