Karen Chan (Asian Film Archive) is the Executive Director of the Asian Film Archive (AFA). Under her watch, the AFA has grown from two-persons to a team of eleven as a subsidiary of the National Library Board. Karen teaches film literacy classes, contributes to film related publications, and presents at international archiving conferences. She has written articles for FOCAL International, CROSSCUT ASIA, a publication by Tokyo International Film Festival, and Frames Cinema Journal by University of St Andrews, UK, amongst others. As part of her belief in continually reaching wider audiences through AFA’s work, Karen participates in discussions of lesser-known areas of Asian cinema, most recently sharing with filmmakers in a talk organised by the UNESCO Cluster Office in Almaty on “Cinema Heritage of Central Asia: Conservation and Promotion Challenges”. She helmed AFA’s successful inscription of the Cathay-Keris Malay Classics to the UNESCO Memory of the World Asia-Pacific Register that remains as Singapore’s only moving image documentary heritage in the Register. Karen has been featured in various broadcasted documentaries such as Singapore on Film and has been interviewed by many print and online media outlets. She is the current President of the Southeast Asia-Pacific Audiovisual Archives Association (SEAPAVAA) and is a member of the Advisory Committee of the Singapore Film Commission.
The AFA runs regular screenings at the Oldham Theatre, screening Asian classics, contemporary releases, acclaimed titles, and more obscure films to allow audiences to develop an appreciation of Asia’s rich cinematic heritage. Within 2020, a range of new programmes have been presented by the AFA, including the Monographs series featuring AFA commissioned video and written essays about Asian cinema, a VOD platform for audiences to enjoy AFA’s screening programmes any time, special features of AFA’s collections on its YouTube channel, a monthly Asian digest, and a regular podcast series Coming Attractions. Regular favourites like State of Motion, AFA’s annual film and visual art event is a highlight of Singapore Art Week. Back for its sixth edition, SoM21 runs from 20 Jan-19 Feb 2021.
The AFA continues to focus on preserving Asian films that are not archived in their home country and to prioritise the restoration of deteriorating films that could be lost forever if nothing was done. One of AFA’s latest restoration projects, Bambaru Avith (1978) by the late Sri Lankan director Dharmasena Pathiraja, was selected for the 2020 Cannes Classics. This has given the film a new lease of life and raised awareness of AFA’s work.