The upcoming Singapore Film Festival evokes the country in all its diversity.
Given the presence of several diplomatic missions, audiences in the Capital have been a default beneficiary of their cultural activities, chief among which are film festivals. French and Italian films have become something of a fixture in the city, due also to their status as heavyweight film industries. But embassies of countries that have hitherto not been known as film hubs are also making efforts to exhibit their film culture. The Bangladesh High Commission organised a festival of its films this year, as did the embassies of Belgium and Columbia. Joining them is the Singapore High Commission with the Singapore Film Festival.
The festival hopes to “expose India to our fledging film industry and encourage greater interaction between Singaporean and Indian film makers,” says Acting High Commissioner Jonathan Tow.
Organised in partnership with India Habitat Centre (IHC), the festival will be launched on October 1 and the films will be screened in IHC’s Stein auditorium. The opening film of the festival is “881” by Royston Tan. It tells the story of two childhood friends who grow up mesmerised by the glamour of Getai (a boisterous live stage performance held during the Ghost Festival) and eventually become the most sought-after pair of Getai singers. Unbeknownst to them, however, they become the subject of the jealousy of their rivals, the Durian Sisters, who are determined to unsettle them by messing up their schedule.
The screening will be followed by a conversation between Royston Tan and Anurag Kashyap, director of “Gangs of Wasseypur”. A graduate from Temasek Polytechnic, Singapore, Tan has numerous short films to his credit. He has won the Grand Prix at Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival 2007 for “Monkeylove” and the Best Director award at the Beunos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema 2004 for “15: The Movie”.
The second day comprises screenings of “Singapore GaGa” by Tan Pin Pin and “Red Dragonflies” by Liao Jiekai. Both films are uniquely atmospheric; while “Singapore GaGa” is a documentary that presents the country’s everyday sights and sounds that often go unnoticed, “Red Dragonflies” depicts a world littered with incongruity, absences and traces of childhood dreams.
The closing film of the festival is Boo Junfeng’s “Sandcastle”, which tells the story of an 18-year-old’s life, thrown into disarray by a series of events and disclosures on the eve of his conscription in the Singapore army. The film became the first Singapore film to premiere at Cannes Film Festival’s International Critics’ Week in 2010, and was also screened at the Pusan International Film Festival, the BFI London Film Festival and the Chicago International Film Festival. The film was listed by The Wall Street Journal as a notable Asian film of 2010. The screening will be followed by a conversation between Boo and film producer Bobby Bedi.
The festival will also travel to Chennai and Mumbai later in the year. Entry is free.