SINGAPORE: Living up to its stature as Southeast Asia’s leading (and longest running) international film platform, the 28th Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) has unveiled a slate of films that not only celebrates unconventional storytelling and striking cinematography, but highlights the steady growth of independent cinema in Asia.
SGIFF 2017 programme director Pimpaka Towira, who took over the reins from her predecessor Zhang Wenjie, said the festival will show a diverse spread of films that stood out in the past one year.
“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,” she said.
“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.”
The final line-up sees a whopping 112 titles, including 18 world premieres and six Asian premieres.
The festival promises something for everyone - 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).
Opening the 11-day event will be Chinese director Vivian Qu’s Angels Wear White, which recently competed in Venice.
Worth mentioning are the three films that will be part of the Special Presentation section: Anup Singh’s The Song Of Scorpions, The White Girl by Jenny Suen as well as Christopher Doyle and Atsuko Hirayanagi’s Oh Lucy!
The Song Of Scorpions stars award winning actor Irrfan Khan, while Oh Lucy! features Black Hawk Down leading actor Josh Hartnett, both of whom will be making appearances at the festival.
With BAFTA winning Indian filmmaker Shekhar Kapur (best known for the Oscar winning Elizabeth) as head of jury, the Silver Screen Awards’ Asian Feature Film Competition will see eight titles in competition.
One of them is Malaysian filmmaker Tan Seng Kiat’s Shuttle Life – a hard-hitting social drama about the underclass in Malaysia starring Taiwanese actress-director Sylvia Chang alongside pop singer and actor Jack Tan. The film won the award for Best Film, Best Cinematography and Best Actor when it premiered at the Shanghai Film Festival early this year.
SGIFF will also be recognising and paying tribute to two veterans in Asian cinema this year - award-winning Indonesian filmmaker Garin Nugroho (1994’s Letter for an Angel and 1998’s Leaf on a Pillow) and renowned Japanese actor Koji Yakusho (2005’s Memoirs of a Geisha and 2006’s Babel).
Nugroho will be receiving the Honorary Award and Yakush will be honoured with Cinema Legend Award. Both of them will be giving masterclasses.
There will also be the inaugural Southeast Asian Producer’s Network this year. A total of 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.
This year’s SGIFF will run from Nov 23 to Dec 3 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.
An event under the Singapore Media Festival umbrella and hosted by the Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA), SGIFF will begin ticket sales on Oct 25.