The Singapore International Film Festival will open with the screening of local film “Tiong Bahru Social Club” at the Shaw Lido theater. But, for social distancing reasons, the occasion will not be marked with a red carpet pageant.
Throughout its 11-day stretch (Nov. 26-Dec. 6), the festival will run as a hybrid event, mixing in-person and online activities. And although the festival is targeted primarily at a local audience in a country which has successfully wrangled the coronavirus back to manageable levels, it will also be scaled down.
Organizers this week unveiled 70 films, down from a more usual 90-plus. About half of the reduced total are contemporary feature movies.
Some will be presented only in theaters, while others will also be available online, but geo-blocked for Singapore audiences only. In order to reach audiences at a time when physical distancing regulations still persist in Singapore cinemas, there will be two in-person screenings per film. Venues include Filmgarde Bugis Plus, Oldham Theatre and The Projector.
“This year is definitely unique, but SGIFF will continue to be a cultural institution that inspires, creates, and shapes the direction of film across the region. It was our priority to ensure that the festival program and budgets were put together, without compromising on artistic integrity or rigor,” said Emily Hoe, the new artistic director.
“Tiong Bahru Social Club,” a gentle satire about mandatory happiness and the country’s obsession with measurable results, is directed by Tan Bee Thiam, a producer-writer-director behind the 13 Little Pictures company. The film is his first feature as solo director.
It joins seven other film in the competition section for works by first and second time Asian directors. The others are: “A Balance,” by Japan’s Harumoto Yujiro; “The Cloud in her Room” by China’s Zheng Lu Xinyuan; “Beginning,” by Georgia’s Dea Kulumbegashvili; “Geranium,” by Turkey’s Cagil Bocut; “Milestone,” by India’s Ivan Ayr; “No Love For The Young,” by Malaysia’s Ridhwan Saidi; and “The Wasteland,” by Iran’s Ahmad Bahrami, and which won Venice’s best film prize in the Orizzonti section.
The Asian Vision section showcases: “Wife of a Spy” by Japanese director Kurosawa Kiyoshi”; “Genus Pan” by Fillipino filmmaker Lav Diaz, who won the best director prize in the Venice festival’s Orizzonti section; Tsai Ming-liang’s “Days”; Kawase Naomi’s “True Mothers”; and “A Yellow Cat,” by Adilkhan Yerzhanov from Kazakhstan.
In the Cinema Today section, which plays films from further afield, the lineup includes: Venice Film Festival Golden Lion winner “Nomadland,” by Chloe Zhao; Cannes selection “Gagarine,” by French directors Fanny Liatard and Jeremy Trouilh; and Kelly Reichardt’s much traveled “First Cow.”
Four industry-themed talk sessions will be held online. With speakers including Ichiyama Shozo, Ann Hui, Fran Borgia, Anthony Chen and Anderson Le.