- Immerse in the ever-vibrant film scene with 18 world premieres, 17 international premieres and six Asian premieres.
- SGIFF will recognise contributions by veterans in Asian cinema – Garin Nugroho and Koji Yakusho – while spotlighting talents of tomorrow at the Silver Screen Awards held at Marina Bay Sands.
- 11 regional commissioners and producers gather, as part of the inaugural Southeast Asian Producer’s Network, to chart the future of collaborative film-making in the region.
Image courtesy of Singapore International Film Festival
The growth and potential of independent cinema in Asia has been steadily rising over the years. Extending an open invitation to be engaged in the future of cinema, the 28th Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) announced its full Festival line-up at the National Museum of Singapore today.
As the leading international film platform in Southeast Asia and part of the annual Singapore Media Festival (SMF), SGIFF is set to showcase a diverse spread of films that stood out in the past one year. From a melodramatic story edited down from 10,000 hours of surveillance videos (Dragonfly Eyes by Chinese filmmaker Xu Bing); to a high-wire sociological suspense (The Square by Swedish director Ruben Östlund which won the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival), and a female-driven journey of vengeance and justice (Marlina The Murderer in Four Acts by Indonesian director Mouly Surya), the Festival promises to be an immersive journey of unconventional storytelling and striking cinematography, with something for everyone.
Sharing on the film line-up this year, SGIFF Programme Director Pimpaka Towira said, “The demand for quality content has never been greater today. In the last one year, we have witnessed bold experimentation from film auteurs to showcase diversity in storylines, genres and styles, as they push the envelope in filmmaking. Staying true to our role as a vital focal point to uncover these gems and boundary-pushing creativity, this year’s Festival line-up provides an insight into the talent that permeates the region and showcases the promise of the industry here in Asia.”
(from left to right) Film stills of Oh Lucy! and Shuttle Life
In addition to the recently announced opening film, Angels Wear White by Vivian Qu, film-goers can also look forward to 112 films across various genres and presentations during the 11-day Festival. An example is one of SGIFF’s three Special Presentation films – Oh Lucy! by Japanese first-time features filmmaker Atsuko Hirayanagi and stars award-winning Japanese actress Shinobu Terajima and Black Hawk Down leading actor Josh Hartnett. A quirky portrait of a lonely Tokyo woman who follows her English teacher to California, the feature film was expanded from Hirayanagi’s award-winning short of the same title, and evokes genuine emotional poignancy as it explores identity and isolation in this age of decreasing human interaction.
Another finely-crafted debut feature is Malaysian filmmaker Tan Seng Kiat’s Shuttle Life which stars Taiwanese actress-director Sylvia Chang and pop singer and actor Jack Tan will compete in this year’s Silver Screen Awards’ Asian Feature Film Competition. The hard-hitting social drama stands out with its uncompromising realism. It displays the life and complex humanity of the underclass in Malaysia, represented by the male protagonist who faces the destruction of the family he struggles to support. When premiered at the Shanghai Film Festival early this year, it swept the top prizes in three categories – best film, best cinematography and best actor for Tan at the hotly contested Asian New Talent Awards.
(from left to right) Film stills of I Want to Go Home and Nyi Ma Lay
Films presented by Singapore filmmakers also stand out with their remarkable sensitivity and nuance in storytelling. Inspired by a real-life story in Japan, Wesley Leon Aroozoo will present his first full-length documentary I Want to Go Home that takes on a gentle direction in depicting one’s emotions with the loss of a loved one. One of 10 entries shortlisted to compete in Busan International Film Festival’s Wide Angle Documentary Competition, the film follows the journey of a man’s determination to reunite with his wife after the Great East Japan earthquake to fulfil her final wish.
Others drew inspiration from the diverse stories amidst us. One of Singapore’s pioneer female filmmakers, Wee Li Lin will present her latest short – Areola Borealis that features an uptight mother who tries to upstage her daughter’s untraditional wedding. This year’s Festival Commission Nyi Ma Lay by Chiang Wei Liang also questions and raises awareness on social issues that plague society by drawing viewers into the psyche of domestic workers who suffer from emotional abuse.
Honouring the contributions of veterans in Asian Film Industry
(from left to right) Garin Nugroho and Koji Yakusho
The allure of Asian cinema, too, lies with the strong foundation established through iconic works by experienced regional filmmakers and actors who were pioneers in forging new ground. Thus, the 28th SGIFF will present Indonesian filmmaker Garin Nugroho with the Honorary Award for his contribution to the film industry.
One of the most important Southeast Asian filmmakers of our time, Nugroho captures his love for Indonesia, his people and the Javanese culture through the camera, while keeping to an undeniable poetic, reflective film style that resonates strongly with audiences. His natural filmmaking flair was recognised from the very start, with his debut fiction feature film Love in a Slice of Bread (1991) clinching the Best Film Award at the Indonesian Film Festival that year. He went on to receive various awards for his films – Letter for an Angel (1994) won Best Film, while Leaf on a Pillow (1998) won the Special Jury Prize at the Tokyo International Film Festival. A recipient of the French honorary decoration of Chevalier dans l’ordre des Arts et Lettres, he was also accorded the Best Young Director at the Asia Pacific International Film Festival in Seoul in 1992, Best Director at the Pyongyang International Film Festival and the Young Filmmakers Jury Award at the Berlin Film Festival in 1994. Gaining critical attention internationally, he also made the region proud by directing a gamelan musical Opera Jawa (2006) as part of a commission by the government of Austria for the 250th Anniversary of Mozart’s birth. His latest black and white silent movie Setan Jawa (2017) impressively combined the performances by a traditional Javanese gamelan ensemble with modern symphony orchestra in his expression of the complexities of Indonesia.
The Cinema Legend Award this year will be conferred on Japan’s leading actor, Koji Yakusho. The award recognises the body of work of Asian actors while celebrating their talent and outstanding achievements in bringing Asia’s story to life on screen.
Best known for his sensitive portrayals of the common man, Yakusho rose to stardom with his breakout role of feudal lord Oda Nobunaga in the NHK drama, Tokugawa Ieyasu in the 1980s. Having worked in over 60 films, including Palme d’Or winner The Eel (1997), Shall We Dance (1996), Memoirs of a Geisha (2005), Babel (2006) and 13 Assassins(2010), he was also a recipient of multiple awards that recognise his prolific careers. This includes the Shiju Hosho Medal of Honour from the Emperor of Japan for his outstanding achievements, making him a recipient at the youngest age for an actor. He continues to inspire with his lifelong dedication to acting with his latest works, including Japanese thrillerThe Third Murder, an official selection in competition at 2017 Venice International Film Festival, and a special appearance in Oh Lucy!.
Festival goers can look forward to meeting and interacting with both Yakusho and Nugroho at their masterclasses at ArtScience Museum on 2 December 2017, and the National Museum of Singapore on 3 December 2017 respectively.
Exploring the future of cinema at SGIFF
While the Festival casts a spotlight on quality films and outstanding filmmakers, it is no secret that the industry is evolving largely through the impact of new technologies on cinematography, production, and even the way we consume our films. As a champion of regional cinema, SGIFF will continue to take on a key role in facilitating dialogues in light of this advancement and creating a demand for independent films in this burgeoning industry.
The Festival will thus introduce the inaugural Southeast Asian Producer’s Network this year. 11 regional commissioners and producers, including Singapore’s Fran Borgia, Indonesia’s Mouly Surya and representatives from HBO Asia and Astro Shaw, will gather at the Festival to chart the future of collaborative filmmaking in the region, while sharing insights with festival-goers through a public talk.
Speaking on the new initiative, SGIFF Executive Director Yuni Hadi said, “Our movie-going culture has entered a new stage. Filmmakers and producers are producing great content that are played across multiple screens from cinemas to television to online platforms, in search of that space that will allow our stories from Asia to shine and find its audience. It is an important time for us to reflect how and where the stories from our region can be told, and the Southeast Asian Producer’s Network creates that conversation and challenges the industry to think out of the box.”
Casting a spotlight on the integration of technology with filmmaking to create greater opportunities, one of the Festival’s SG Originals talks will see Singapore filmmakers discuss the usage of over-the-top platforms to be more accessible to viewers. The Future of Cinema Forum will also show scenes from films that were shot in Virtual Reality (VR) – including Manic and The Protectors: Walk in the Ranger’s Shoes, while discussing how the use of both VR and Augmented Reality (AR) can connect both creators and audiences.
The 28th SGIFF, which runs from 23 November to 3 December 2017, will take place across various venues, including Marina Bay Sands, Shaw Theatres Lido, National Museum of Singapore, National Gallery Singapore, The Arts House, Filmgarde Bugis+, Objectifs and *SCAPE. Ticket sales will begin on 25 October 2017.
It is an event of the Singapore Media Festival, hosted by Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA). SGIFF’s Official Sponsors include Presenting Sponsor since 2014, Marina Bay Sands; Official Festival Time Partner, IWC Schaffhausen; Official International Realtor, List Sotheby’s; Official Automobile, BMW and Official Airline, Singapore Airlines.