OWNDAYS MEETS vol. 15 Yuni HadiFilm Producer

Our guest in part 14 of OWNDAYS MEETS is Yuni Hadi, a Singaporean film producer who is known in the Singapore art scene for actively promoting independent Singapore films. We speak to her about her career and her views on the future of the film industry.

Yuni Hadi

Yuni Hadi

Film Producer

Yuni Hadi is a Singaporean film producer. She is known in the Singapore art scene for actively promoting independent Singapore films and creating platforms that connect emerging film talents with audiences.
In 2009, she was the Festival Director of the 22nd Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF). SGIFF is the largest and longest-running film festival in Singapore which showcases international films and opens up Singapore films to a global stage.
In 2006, she co-founded Objectifs Films, an independent film distribution label.
In 2013, she co-produced Ilo Ilo, an awarding winning film that chronicles a Singaporean family. The film won the prestigious Camera d’Or award in the 66th Cannes Film Festival, making it the first Singaporean feature film to win an award in Cannes. The film has also won numerous awards at international film festivals including Best Film at the 2013 Golden Horse Awards.
In 2014, she returned as the Executive Director of the 25th SGIFF and led the subsequent editions in 2015 and 2016.

What led you into the film industry?

I fell in love with cinema when I was thirteen years old. I remember dragging my whole family to the cinemas to watch French films, Spanish films or Japanese films that would come to Singapore. It was a torture for my family but it was really enjoyable for me. And for some reason, I’m really attracted to films that connect with your heart and are able to show you a different world that otherwise, you would not see.

What is the charm in filmmaking?

I think there is some need in us as human beings to tell our own stories because we as human beings are so complex and the world offers so many things including love, friendship and family. At the same time we are dealing with all the political situations that are happening in the world. We can’t help but want to respond to all these things that are happening to us. Through filmmaking and through the eyes of the filmmakers, we are seeing certain perspective on what’s happening in the world. We are able to come in to a discussion and to take home with us a new way of looking at things. I think that is very valuable to us as human beings.

You made an award-winning film Ilo Ilo. How has it changed your life and your career?

It was certainly a dream for us to win so many international awards for the film Ilo Ilo. And what’s more to be able to represent Singapore in the international film circuit. What was most important was strengthening that belief that a Singapore film can fly the flag of Singapore worldwide and we can be true to ourselves in terms of the story we want to tell and not be compromised. And the world is wanting to watch films that we make.

What is the biggest challenge that Singapore filmmakers face?

The cinema landscape is changing so much in the way we make films and watch films. In terms of making films, what is difficult right now is that there are so many platforms in the way we can show films. At the same time, there is much more content that is produced everywhere around the world. So how do you stand out as a filmmaker without compromising your stories and how do we reach an international audience? I think these are the questions that all filmmakers continue to ask.

What do you think is the future of cinema?

I think that doing the Singapore International Film Festival has really opened the whole new world for me in terms of the potential of cinema. Even though they say that less and less people may watch films in the big screen in the future, I think it’s the opposite. At the film festival, what you get is showing the film with the filmmaker around and having that dialogue. When you see the reactions of the audience and their willingness to participate in that dialogue with the filmmaker and their excitement, it tells us that a film festival is still very relevant. I’m very excited about the future of the Singapore International Film Festival.

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