SAAVA, the Southeast Asian Audio-Visual Association was launched by a group of producers from the ASEAN region at ScreenSingapore earlier this week. The non-profit organization aims to “advance creative development across the region, promote Southeast Asian audio-visual content and capabilities internationally, and stimulate collaborations between its members.”
Singapore-based founding member of SAAVA, Chan Gin Kai, executive producer at Silver Media Group said, “Southeast Asia has grown in terms of hours [of content produced], quality and number of films. Across the region, storytelling and cinema has developed and the number of theatres is going up. There needs to be strategic support and representative bodies in place to protect and properly utilize intellectual properties across platforms for international trade and investment.” The organizers spoke of the growth in production but the lack of regional distribution to back it up.
“We have successful films like Ilo Ilo, the Thais have Uncle Boonmee and other indie and horror films that have done quite well, Indonesia has The Raid and others, but these films are often pushed by producers themselves. We plan to hold workshops and share best practices. We see how Pact worked for the UK and EAVE for Europe. We want to learn from them,” said Chan.
SAAVA aims to work with similar organizations and associations in the region and around the world. They plan to actively participate in festivals, markets and forums as well as offer awards to students and professionals including exchange trips.
Jakarta-based Salto Films founder Shanty Harmayn Hofman said, “There’s a great need to build ties and reinforce relationships between producers around the region as it’s the logical next step. The distinctive films and content this region produces deserves a wider berth and this association provides an opportunity and platform for these filmmakers to collaborate on larger-scale and higher quality projects.”
Cambodian producer Chhay Bora said, “Film producers play an important role in their society. They tell stories of their culture and country. If they do not get support from their own government, at least they are able to receive guidance and support from their filmmaking family across the borders.”
“You don’t need to be Southeast Asian as long as you have done a Southeast Asian project in the past five years and plan to keep working here,” adds Chan.
“We want to galvanize producers throughout the region and be independent but united,” said Justin Deimen, in charge of Public Relations & Communications on SAAVA’s executive committee.