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Highlight on Southeast Asian Films in 27th Singapore International Film Festival!

By Freddy  /  27 Oct 2016 (Thursday)

Photo credit: 27th SGIFF

The 27th edition of Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) puts Southeast Asian cinema front and center in this year’s festival. The festival, which runs from 23 November to 4 December 2016, will open with Asian premiere of Interchange, a Malaysian-Indonesian collaboration by the Malaysian filmmaker Dain Iskandar Said. This opening film will be accompanied by the world premiere of The Pursuit of A Happy Human Life, a short film by Gladys Ng, a Singaporean filmmaker who won the Best Singapore Short Film at the 26th SGIFF.

The three special presentations films all come from the region too, with Mrs K by award-winning Malaysian filmmaker Ho Yuhang, Three Sassy Sisters by renowned Indonesian filmmaker Nia Dinata, and The Road to Mandalay by Burmese filmmaker Midi Z, which was shot in Thailand.

Regarding this year’s line-up, SGIFF Programme Director, Mr Zhang Wenjie, said, “This year we are thrilled to present Southeast Asian filmmakers such as Dain Iskandar Said and Ho Yuhang who are forging bold new paths and ways of making films in our region. These films expand the possibilities of Southeast Asian cinema and are testament to the vitality of our regional cinema.”

SGIFF Executive Director, Yuni Hadi (middle) and SGIFF Programme Director, Mr Zhang Wenjie (right)
Photo credit: 27th SGIFF

Despite a focus on Asian cinema, which makes up approximately 60% of the films this year, the festival features 161 films from 52 countries. There are dedicated sections for Estonian animation shorts, Nepalese shorts, and Latin American cinema as well.

SGIFF will also present the Cinema Legend Award to Hong Kong veteran actor Simon Yam at the Silver Screen Awards held at Marina Bay Sands. Having starred in over 200 movies, Yam became a household name after his roles in popular TV series such as Return of the Condor Heroes and New Heavenly Sword and Dragon Sabre. Yam will share his acting journey and advices at an In Conversation session at ArtScience museum on 4 December.

The festival also organises An Evening with Darren Aronofsky on 24 November at ArtScience Museum. The renowned American director is well-known for his work in acclaimed films such as Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, and Black Swan. The session will screen his first feature, a 1988 science fiction entitled Pi, followed by an extended dialogue session with him.

Darren Aronofsky, filmmaker in attendance
Photo credit: 27th SGIFF

The theme for this year’s SGIFF, which is part of the annual Singapore Media Festival (SMF) hosted by Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), is “Telling our stories.”

SGIFF Executive Director, Ms Yuni Hadi, said, “As the longest-running international film platform in Southeast Asia, there is a continuous effort in fostering the understanding of our regional cinema and giving a voice to individuals through stories and dialogue, as we bring creators, thinkers, critics, and audiences alike from all over the world to Singapore for this 12-day festival.”

Besides screenings, the festival features various programmes including masterclasses with directors-in-attendance and guest filmmakers, the “Future of Cinema” forum, Southeast Asian Film Lab, and Youth Jury & Critics Programme. It also presents ‘SG Originals’ series of talks, a new initiative aimed at promoting local content making, generating discussions as well as spotlighting talent. The talks will encompass topics such as working with actors, developing screenplays in Singapore, sound design and exploring virtual reality in short films.

27th Singapore International Film Festival
Date: 23 November - 4 December 2016
Venue: Various
Ticket Pricing:
  • Opening film: $25
  • Special Presentation film: $15
  • 'Imagine' film screenings: Pay as you wish
  • Masterclasses, In Conversations & Talks: Refundable registration fee $5 at Peatix! (Register here!)

Tickets for SGIFF go on sale from 28 October at all SISTIC outlets! 
(Book your tickets here!)

Film Highlights 
  • Interchange & The Pursuit of a Happy Human Life
Opening film of the festival is by Malaysian filmmaker Dain Iskandar Said with his second feature, ‘Interchange’, a bold and creative direction about a world of magical shape-shifting shamans and mystical beings levying in the urban landscape.
Up-and-coming local filmmaker Gladys Ng presents her commission work ‘The Pursuit of A Happy Life’ at the opening film screening as well. 
  • Mrs K
Karen Wai, Simon Yam and Wu Bai star in the action-drama ‘Mrs K’ by Malaysian pioneer Ho Yuhang. The film explores Ho’s attractions of a Wuxia epic within the noir-ish cityscape of Malaysia.
Karen Wai, Wu Bai and director Ho Yuhang will be attending the screening.
  • Three Sassy Sisters 
Well-known Indonesian director Nia Dinata presents her musical-movie ‘Three Sassy Sisters’ as part of the film’s epochal Presentation segment. Inspired by Usmar Ismail’s classic from 1956, the film is a stylised contemporary romantic comedy that is set to delight audiences, young and old alike.
Filmmaker and cast will be in attendance.
  • A Yellow Bird
Singaporean K Rajagopal’s debut feature A Yellow Bird was in competition at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year. Making a Singapore premiere at the SGIFF2016, expect to be blown away by the precise cinematography of the director’s own psychological interrogation of the society.
Filmmaker and cast will be in attendance.
  • 4Love
Local film anthology 4 Love makes its world premiere to much anticipation, with four directors chronicling the journey of love in all its many splendours. The film features a stellar lineup of newcomers such as Maxi Lim, Cheryl Wee, Oon Shu An, Shane Pow, Hayley Woo and Jonathan Cheok.
Filmmakers will be in attendance.

4Love makes its theatrical release on 1 Dec 2016!
  • I’m Coming Up
Another local film to look out for this festival is ‘Im Coming Up’ by Min-Wei Ting, who debuts his first feature on a documentation of an HDB flat in Jurong… all in a single take.
Filmmaker will be in attendance.
  • Siew Lup
Remember sexually-charged local film ‘Lang Tong’? Director Sam Loh is back for his second instalment of the femme fatale trilogy with ‘Siew Lup’, a steamy concussion of backstabbing intrigue and murderous delights. 
Filmmaker will be in attendance.
  • Art Through Our Eyes
Created by five award-winning heavyweights of Southeast Asia, ‘Art Through Our Eyes’ is another anthology of shorts by Joko Anwar, Ho Yuhang, Brilliant Mendoza, Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Singaporean Eric Khoo. This is the first ever milestone collaboration inspired by the National Gallery Singapore’s collection of Southeast Asian art. 
Filmmakers will be in attendance.
  • Bangkok Nites
Frenziedly shot from Bangkok to Northern Thailand and Loas, Katsuya Tomita’s ‘Bangkok Nites’ is a unique co-production that portrays with breezy authenticity the dealings of its motley crew of characters: the enclave of Japanese immigrants and expats, and the working ladies of Thaniya Road who serve them.
  • Big Big World
Turkish director Reha Erdem explores the bond between orphaned siblings in his 8th feature  ‘Big Big World’, where their relationships are put to the test as they flee the horrors of the city into the isolation of nature. The film premiered in Venice where it won the Special Jury Prize this year.
Filmmaker Reha Erdem will be present at the screening.
  • The Mobfathers
Funnyman Chapman To produces this comedy-drama ‘The Mobfathers’, with Hong Kong’s most prominent filmmaker Herman Yau directing it. The film leads us into the underbelly of Hong Kong’s socio-political fabric by amplifying the train genre’s tropes to outlandishly comedic proportions. 
Filmmaker Herman Yau will be present at the screening.
  • All We Had
Katie Holmes makes her directorial feature debut with ‘All We Had’, a family drama and an endearing coming-of-age story of a struggling mother and daughter pair. 
  • Notes on Blindness
UK’s ‘Notes on Blindness’ by multi-platform filmmakers Peter Middleton and James Spinney, makes its Asian premiere at the SGIFF2016, a mesmerising and meditative reflection about going blind, as recounted by a man forced to come to terms with his new reality. 
  • Pi
America’s leading auteur Darren Aronofsky will be presenting his film that propelled him to become one of the most-followed directors. Deemed as a cult classic, the 1998 film ‘Pi’ features exhilarating experimental visuals that enchants and captivates.
The screening of Pi will be followed by an extended dialogue session with Darren Aronofsky. 
  • Dumplings
As part of the tribute segment of the festival, multi-talented Hong Kong filmmaker Fruit Chan will be presenting a series of his works. Dumplings, the 2004 film starring Miriam Yeung, Bai Ling and Tong Leung is a genre masterwork that blends subversive social realism with deliciously thrilling horror reinventions. 

The 27th Singapore International Film Festival runs from 23 November - 4 December 2016!

Which films/masterclass/talks caught your eye? Tell us in the comments below!
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