Remarks by Ambassador Kaplan on the 100th Year Anniversary Celebration of Motion Pictures Association
October 11, 2022
Before I start, I want to mention that the United States and Singapore are united in our disgust for the senseless and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by President Putin of the Russian Ministry. Here we are enjoying a great time, and there are people suffering needlessly in Ukraine. We’re proud to stand with Singapore in opposition to the senseless violence.
With that out of the way, it is a true honor to be with you here tonight as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Motion Picture Association and an incredible 40 years of the MPA in Singapore.
Let me start by thanking my friend Ambassador Rivkin for being here tonight and for his strong leadership as the Chairman and CEO of the MPA. He has been steadfast in driving the MPA mission to promote the American film industry both at home and abroad.
I’m thrilled to be co-hosting this event alongside you here in Singapore and I look forward to the MPA’s continued success in telling America’s story through the powerful medium of film.
The U.S. Embassy in Singapore is truly grateful for the MPA and efforts to produce great stories that influence global audiences.
If you think back over the years, how many of you can point to a film that directly influenced your life in some way?
Whether it was inspiring your career or sparking a desire to visit a faraway land, the movies shape us.
A generation of Americans joined the Navy in the 1980s because of the original “Top Gun,” and now we’re watching a second wave who have been inspired to serve their country because of “Maverick.”
I know teachers who pursued education because of Robin Williams’ performance in “Dead Poets Society” and young girls who were inspired to pursue STEM careers because of Octavia Spencer’s phenomenal performance in “Hidden Figures.”
Even at the Singapore Airshow this year, we saw prototypes of flying cars. I couldn’t help but think that maybe we are actually going “Back to the Future.” Much of the world’s greatest innovations were first seen on screen through someone else’s imagination. What will they think of next?
As the U.S. Ambassador to Singapore, I was thrilled to have my Embassy team partner with the MPA. Together with UIP pictures we launched in Singapore the premiere of “Top Gun: Maverick,” helping to bring people back to the cinema as we move past the last three years of the pandemic. Needless to say, the release was a major success.
Films influence us individually; and bring us together. So many memories come from the magic of movies. Our references, our language, and our quotes comes from films. Every time my partner Karen asks me “How do I look?” I respond with “Very Well, I must say I’m amazed” quoting from one of my own favorites, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”
Films also allow us to experience life across diverse cultures.
Many whom never visited a faraway land can experience culture and place through the movies. Films allow countries and their citizens to share stories. Learn from each other. Experience one another.
All of this is why we are so proud of the work of the MPA. They have advocated on behalf of the global film and TV industry for 100 years. And the MPA supports the artists and creators by protecting their work and rewarding their genius.
The film industry is an economic powerhouse in the U.S. and may indeed be America’s most powerful vehicle for sharing our culture and our values. American storytelling is enjoyed by audiences around the world, accounting for $16.3 billion in U.S. exports worldwide and registering a positive trade balance with nearly every country. Including Singapore.
The MPA has been in Singapore for 40 years. This rich history has helped Singapore become a home to major regional operations for Disney, Netflix, Warner Bros Discovery, HBO, Sony, Universal, Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), United International Pictures (UIP), and LucasFilm.
Films set in Singapore, like “Crazy Rich Asians” have positively benefited the local economy, provided job opportunities, and had a significant impact on tourism. Just last week, my niece was visiting, and she wanted to visit Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay Sands, and the church at Chijmes, all places she learned about from the movies.
On a more serious note, the MPA has a large role to play in protecting intellectual property rights and the importance of the creative arts. They support the United States in a focused effort to ensure a free, fair, and rules-based economy here in the Indo-Pacific region. Copyright laws
enable creators to make a profession out of their passion and talent, and these laws serve as a guidepost for much of what the MPA does here in the region. We also appreciate the MPA’s efforts to ensure fair market access to films across the globe and pursue policies that foster a strong global creative economy.
Over the years, the MPA has also updated its priorities to increasingly focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion – both in front of and behind the camera. With nearly 50 partnerships and new programs that promote a diverse talent pipeline, we can all rest assured that we will see stories on screen from a broader range of voices and creators who will continue to amaze and inspire audiences around the world.
So we thank you, the MPA, Ambassador Rivkin, and the thousands of movies that have been such a part of our lives for the last century and undoubtedly for the century to come!