The 31st SGIFF will be hosted across multiple Festival venues, including Shaw Lido, Filmgarde Bugis+, Oldham Theatre, The Projector and virtual platform The Projector Plus.
Tan Bee Thaim
A Singaporean producer, writer and director, Tan co-directed Fundamentally Happy (2016) with Lei Yuan Bin and produced Snakeskin (2015) and As You Were (2014). Tiong Bahru Social Club is his solo directorial debut.
Singapore filmmaker Don Aravind works in film and television. His shorts have been screened widely in local and international festivals.
Ridhwan Saidi is a Malaysian film director, theatre practitioner and novelist. His short films include Sisa Binasa (2019), and No Love for the Young is his debut feature.
Japanese director Kiyoshi Kurosawa first rose to prominence for his work in the crime and horror genres with films like Cure (1997) and Pulse (2001). He won the Jury Prize of the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes for family drama Tokyo Sonata (2008).
Born in Beijing, Chloé Zhao is a writer, director and producer currently based in the United States. Zhao's Nomadland won the Golden Lion at this year’s Venice Film Festival.
Award-winning Filipino filmmaker Lav Diaz
is known for his lengthy films that deal with
the themes of trauma, violence and the entanglements between national and personal histories.
Ivan Ayr is a filmmaker who grew up in northern India. His debut, Soni (2018), garnered multiple accolades including Best Film Award at Pingyao Int. Film Festival. Milestone premiered at this year’s Venice International Film Festival.
You wouldn't want to miss this year's international film festival in Singapore. With over 70 films by auteurs from 49 countries, the festival is curated to bring the best, most impactful, moving and thought provoking films to engage with audiences and the communities at large.
Over 11 days, festival goers can enjoy films either in cinemas or at home. While some films will show in cinemas only and virtual screenings are only accessible to audiences in Singapore, there will be talks and panel discussions available online to engage international audiences. Minimising face-to-face interactions in cinemas, the festival will provide Singapore audiences the opportunity to connect with filmmakers through online Q&As recorded by SGIFF after film screenings, using the questions received from audiences.
The festival's executive director Emily Hoe says: “We look forward to giving voice to the diverse stories from home and abroad, to audiences here in Singapore, and we are grateful for the opportunity to be screening these films in venues and in homes for the festival.”
The festival is presenting 22 Singapore films, including debut feature Tiong Bahru Social Club (2020) by Singaporean filmmaker Tan Bee Thiam, as the opening film. SGIFF’s Asian Feature Competition spotlights a new generation of Asian talent, including Beginning (2020) by Dea Kulumbegashvili, which won multiple awards at the San Sebastián Film Festival. It also showcases The Wasteland (2020) by Ahmad Bahrami that received Venice’s Best Film in the Orizzonti section and Milestone (2020) by Ivan Ayr that premiered at Venice this year.
All eight features present their take on personal and generational issues, challenge moralities or unspeakable violence, and will collectively showcase the speed of change and momentous future of Asian filmmaking. Let's check out some of the highlights.
For ticketing info, go to SGIFF.
Tiong Bahru Social Club
English, Mandarin, mix of dialects
Ah Bee leaves his dull office job to join the Tiong Bahru Social Club—a data-driven programme that aims to create the world’s happiest residents in the idyllic neighbourhood. Employed as a happiness agent, Ah Bee is tasked with taking care of Ms Wee. From looking for her cat to participating in group happiness exercises, it seems like the best job in the world. However, he grows increasingly alienated and questions their means of achieving happiness. In a society where happiness is quantified and managed, tender moments in which vulnerabilities are revealed become radical acts that forge real bonds and rupture the veneer of an enforced happiness.
A dutiful son struggles to reunite his fractured family as they deal with his ailing father’s condition. However, the shocking discovery of a family secret threatens to undermine his efforts.
No Love For The Young
English, Bahasa Malayu
What is passion? What is pleasure? Actors and non-actors contemplate questions of the heart and play a game of word association, ruminating on definitions. And when words are inadequate, they employ movement. Drunk on life, art and a youthful honesty, characters reveal their inner worlds, relating a generation’s sensibilities.
Collectively devised by Kuala Lumpur theatre group Ensembel Teater Kaos Nol, the film’s theatrical emotive thread is woven through an immersive visual language; combined with the music of poetry, No Love for the Young becomes a wholly original and genre-defying voice.
Wife Of A Spy
Winner of the Silver Lion for Best Director at the Venice Film Festival, Wife of a Spy follows Kobe-based merchant Yusaku and his wife Satoko as they attempt to expose a horrific national secret. Navigating a complex, dangerous web of wartime political and military figures, Yusaku and Satoko’s marriage and trust in each other also enter uncharted waters. This first period piece by the prolific Kiyoshi Kurosawa ingeniously shape shifts between captivating romance, electrifying spy thriller and elegant historical drama. With a side plot involving the making of a film, Wife of a Spy also becomes a thoughtful reflection on the role of cinema in archiving, capturing and disclosing the truth.
Alongside a whole generation of middle-class, middle-aged Americans affected by the recession, Fern takes to the roads. Living in her van, she chases seasonal jobs as they come along, spending summers in desert communes. On her journey, Fern meets many other nomads. They enter Fern’s world, like short chapters in a story, each with a wealth of tales from their own travels. While this camaraderie gives her temporary respite, Fern’s heart lies in wandering. Her unwillingness to settle down propels her to move steadfastly onwards. Chloé Zhao presents a tender antithesis to the American dream.Her sensitivity to transitory connections and instinctive empathy craft a deeply meaningful, circular tale of introspection.
The island of Hugaw is rife with dark myths and strange histories. In one legend, sightings of a black horse bring certain death; in another, the miasmatic fear that clouds the island is a colonial leftover that blights the land and scars the people. Darker still are the hearts of mankind, whose greed and penchant for violence one character likens to the genus Pan, or chimpanzees, humanity’s closest biological kin.
An allegory on the monsters that deprivation and avarice make of men,set against contemporary Philippines’ violent, traumatic history, Genus Pan is a bleak examination of the inescapable fate of the underclass who remains trapped in an endless cycle of violence. The film won Best Director in the Orizzonti section at Venice.
Hindi, Punjabi, Kashmiri
Ghalib, a Punjabi trucker in New Delhi, has hit a milestone. While his truck has covered , kilometres, our aging protagonist finds his life stalled by a workers’ strike, the loss of his wife, and an inexplicable pain in his back. When a young and eager Pash is assigned as his understudy, Ghalib realises what he must do to keep his life’s work from falling apart.
The harsh North Indian winter looms above all this, its grip constricting every worker’s life. Ivan Ayr’s film is a sobering portrait of a man who—even as he confronts his own disposability—insists on preserving his dignity. A stunning follow-up to Soni (2018), Milestone establishes Ayr as the humanist filmmaker of our generation.
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