Tan notes that locally, while men have a small lead over women in the producer role, a handful of men has risen to prominence for their work on internationally acclaimed projects. They include Potocol’s Jeremy Chua and Akanga Film Asia’s Fran Borgia.

Singapore does not lack for female producers of note, however.

They include Sam Chua, assistant producer for Vietnamese film-maker Pham Thien An’s drama Inside The Yellow Cocoon Shell (2023), winner of the Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

There is also Tan Fong Cheng, whose credits include the Eric Khoo-directed drama Be With Me (2005), Royston Tan’s comedy 881 (2007) and the upcoming fantasy-drama Spirit World. Helmed by Khoo, Spirit World stars French actress Catherine Deneuve and Japanese heart-throb Yutaka Takenouchi. 

Ms Jean Ng, cluster director (media industry) at the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), says: “Female talent plays a crucial role in bringing out diversity in stories. Over the years, IMDA has nurtured trailblazers.”

She says the list includes directors such as Kirsten Tan and Woodford, along with veteran Mediacorp producer Chan Pui Yin and producers Tan Fong Cheng, Karen Khoo Toohey (the omnibus film 7 Letters, 2015) and Tan Si En.

Ms Ng adds: “We take immense pride in the achievements of our female talent and are committed to supporting our home-grown talent.”

However, American actress and producer Reese Witherspoon, speaking at a 2016 roundtable held by entertainment magazine Entertainment Weekly, said women are held to higher standards. Men who direct flops are given second and third chances, while women who make duds become Hollywood pariahs.

Tan Si En says: “Men are the luckier species.”

To help bring balance to the voices being heard, she works with women film-makers as much as possible.

She is producing Don’t Cry, Butterfly, the debut feature by Duong Dieu Linh, a female Vietnamese film-maker. The film is a multinational co-production supported with funding from the Singapore Film Commission (SFC). A festival release is planned for it in the second quarter of 2024.

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