Any edition of the annual Singapore International Film Festival would be incomplete without Singaporean films, and this year, we have a bumper crop of 21 films to look forward to catching this November!
This year, there’s both veteran filmmakers and new, breakout stars aplenty showcasing their works, mining countless stories from our island home and presenting them beautifully. Sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes absurdly funny, but always a treat, here’s a look at some of the local selections you have a chance to catch a screening of:
Two short films this year will be focusing on the subject of foreign domestic workers. The first, Nyi Ma Lay, is directed by Taiwan-based filmmaker Wei Liang and will show as part of the Southeast Asian Short Film Competition. Its title translating to ‘little sister’ in Burmese, Nyi Ma Lay is a single take film, set on the top of an HDB block as we watch a young foreign domestic helper grapple with the consequences of an unplanned disaster. Meanwhile, Ngee Ann Polytechnic lecturer Michael Kam tackles a similar topic in a vastly different way. Four years in the making, Melodi is a short film that follows a young boy as he becomes infatuated with the new Indonesian helper next door. Based off some of Michael’s own memories as a child growing up, the short film has even closer ties to his personal life than at first sight, with both his son and father in starring roles.
It’s not all doom and gloom in the short film section though. For a lighter, comedic touch, consider catching Wee Li Lin’s Areola Borealis at the Singapore Panorama Short Film Programme. Based off a real life incident that happened to Wee herself, Areola Borealis is a tightly woven intergenerational family drama that explodes when a bride’s bra breaks on her wedding night. In the same screening session, expect to be introduced to plenty of promising young and multiracial voices as well, including Ngee Ann Polytechnic Film and Media Studies graduates Laavania Krishna with her short film Stitches, a critical study of familial bonds when a poor single mother discovers her son is being bullied in school.
On the feature film side, we’re psyched for Gavin Lim’s revenge action flick Diamond Dogs. Wanting to pioneer a local hero we could get behind, resilient and incredibly brave, Gavin came up with the film’s concept, and will star actor Sunny Pang as the eponymous ‘diamond dog’, forced to engage in brutal underground death matches. Expect non-stop action and elaborate fight scenes, with over 12 fight scenes in total shot incredibly efficiently, over a period of 13 days. Said Gavin: “We actually wanted to have even crazier stunts, but one of the greatest obstacles was actually how insurance companies weren’t willing to cover some of the stunts we proposed.”
Lasalle film academic Wesley Leon Aroozoo on the other hand, will be tackling a subject far beyond our local shores. Inspired by an article he read on the internet, Aroozoo first reached out to Yasuo Takamatsu when he learnt of the disappearance of his wife following the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake. Every week, Takamatsu goes diving in the sea in search of her, even today. Always a dabbler across various mediums, I Want To Go Home was first envisioned as a book, before Aroozoo decided to take things one step further and use it as the subject of his first documentary. Having received rave reviews at the 2017 Busan Film Festival, I Want To Go Home is one of our top picks this SGIFF. The film will even feature gorgeously rendered animated segments from local twin animators Henry and Harry Zhuang, a personal favourite medium of ours, making us all the more excited for its premiere in December.
Perhaps Shammini G, NTU ADM graduate and co-director of short film Rehearsal best sums up why SGIFF’s Singaporean section is worth watching. Said Shammini: “There’s something about these films that manages to bridge these intensely local stories with universal themes. For us, these films are truly something fiercely local that we can truly be proud of, and we’re glad SGIFF believes in us enough to give us this platform to showcase our works on our own home turf.”
With an incredibly strong lineup this year and a myriad of stories from all backgrounds, the local films showing at this year’s SGIFF truly represent our country’s diversity of voices and an undying, endless stream of creativity. Even if your plate is full with international and regional arthouse films in this edition of the festival, be sure to include some local films in the mix – we guarantee you will not be disappointed.
SGIFF 2017 runs from 23rd November to 3rd December across various cinemas and venues. More information and ticket sales available from their website.