What to expect at the 2019 Singapore International Film Festival

The 30th Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) will run from November 21 to December 1. — Picture courtesy of the Singapore International Film Festival
The 30th Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) will run from November 21 to December 1. — Picture courtesy of the Singapore International Film Festival

SINGAPORE, Nov 15 — The 30th Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) announced its full festival line-up today and it will present a dynamic array of over 90 films by auteurs from 40 countries that take the pulse of Asian and international cinema.

Part of the Singapore Media Festival (SMF), 17 Singapore films have been selected for screening with four shorts nominated for the Silver Screen Awards’ Southeast Asian Short Film competition, including ADAM (2019) by Shoki Lin as well as Jerrold Chong and Huang Junxiang’s Piece of Meat (2019) , which premiered at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.

“In the past year, captivating stories told by brilliant filmmakers have unfolded in varying styles and genres across the global cinematic landscape. As with our line-up each year, we hope to bring distinctive films from around the world to the audience, while staying committed to the strong belief in giving a voice to our own stories that reveal the texture of life in Singapore and the region,” said SGIFF programme director Kuo Ming-Jung.   

The Singapore Panorama section will feature five features and five shorts, including the Southeast Asian premiere of the first two episodes of Invisible Stories (2019) by Ler Jiyuan for HBO Asia on the untold stories from the heartlands in Singapore, and the world premiere of Unteachable (2019) by Yong Shu Ling who spotlights the country’s results-oriented education system. 

In addition, the festival will present short/cut (2019) by filmmaker Ostin Fam and Blessed Land (2019) by Pham Ngoc Lan under the “Special Programme: Contemporary Vietnamese Shorts” that reveal Vietnam’s diverse talents and growing role in shaping the Asian film landscape.

Other strong narratives include 56th Golden Horse Awards contender A Sun (2019) by Taiwanese director Chung Mong-Hong, and Coming Home Again (2019) by Hong Kong-born American director Wayne Wang; country-nominated films for the 2020 Oscars such as Columbian co-production, Monos (2019) by Alejandro Landes, debut feature of French filmmaker, Ladj Ly’s Les Misérables (2019), and And Then We Danced (2019) by Levan Akin.

Film lovers can also revisit two modern gems by Asian masters and delight in the legacy of cinema previewed under Classics section including Memories of Murder (2003) by Palme d’Or  winning director Bong Joon-Ho, which traces his masterful blend of genre and social observations; and the newly-restored Flowers of Shanghai (1998) by Asian legend Hou Hsiao-Hsien that rightfully demands its place on the big screen with its delicate storyline and breathtaking cinematography with scenes lit only by period oil lamps.

Other films to look out for under the Special Presentations section include Wet Season (2019) by Anthony Chen as the opening film as well as  Downton Abbey (2019) directed by American filmmaker Michael Engler that will see the Crawley family from the beloved series hit the big screen.

Myanmar-born, Taiwanese filmmaker Midi Z also returns to the SGIFF with his latest acclaimed psychological thriller, Nina Wu (2019) . The film with eight nominations at the 56th Golden Horse Awards stars Taiwanese actresses, Wu Ke-xi, Hsia Yu-chiao, and Sung Yu-hua, and is a timely exploration of the dangerous games played in a competitive field of filmmaking.               

You can expect Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt as well as Nina Wu director, Midi Z, and actresses Wu Ke-xi and Hsia Yu-chiao to be gracing the red carpet during the film premieres on November 22 and 24 at the Capitol Theatre. 

To commemorate the festival’s landmark edition as well as close the festival, there will be a special screening of The Truth by Palme d’Or Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda on December 1. Kore-eda’s first film out of Japan, this latest feature presents a unique taste of France as it tells the story of prima donna actress Fabienne (played by Catherine Deneuve) whose newly published memoirs are challenged by her daughter, Lumir (played by Juliette Binoche). 

Japanese filmmaker, Takashi Miike, who is known for his innovative, uncompromising and genre-bending aesthetics will be presented with this year’s Honorary Award. With over 100 films (and counting) under his belt, including notable works such as Ichi the Killer (2001), 13 Assassins (2010), and Yakuza Apocalypse (2015), he will also present his latest drama feature, First Love at the SGIFF — after its screening at Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight.

The SGIFF Cinema Icon Award will be presented to distinguished Chinese actress Yao Chen, for her outstanding achievements in bringing Asia’s story to life on screen. Also a recipient of the Best Actress Award at the Asia Contents Awards by the Busan International Film Festival, Yao will present her first produced film Send Me to the Clouds (2019) under the new Filmmakers Present section.                

This is alongside early shorts of Hong Kong filmmaker, Pang Ho-Cheung, and Star Trek (2009) as Academy Award winner for special effects make up, Barney Burman, brings the audience into the ingenuity of prosthetic effects.

The SGIFF will also confer the third “Inspiring Woman in Film Award to actress Yeo Yann Yann, who has built a successful career across the mediums of film, television and theatre. For her performance in Cannes Camera d’Or winning Ilo Ilo (2013) by Anthony Chen, she was awarded a Golden Horse Award for Best Supporting Actress at the Asia Pacific Film Festival, and Best Actress Awards in India, Russia and Dubai. Yann Yann has also been nominated for Best Leading Actress at the 56th Golden Horse Awards for her role in Wet Season (2019).

The 30th SGIFF will run from November 21 to December 1 and will be hosted across multiple venues, including Capitol Theatre, National Museum of Singapore, National Gallery Singapore, Oldham Theatre, The Projector, Filmgarde Bugis+, Golden Village Grand and Objectifs Centre for Photography & Filmmaking. 

For more details and to download the full festival guide, visit www.sgiff.com .  

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