Singapore International Film Festival celebrates 30 years of nurturing film-loving community

Teng Yong Ping
Lifestyle Editor
Unteachable, a documentary by Yong Shu Ling about Singapore's education system.

SINGAPORE — The Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) draws to a close this weekend and it’s an opportune time to celebrate its 30th year. Boy, that’s some history!

This year’s SGIFF is screening over 90 films from 40 countries around Asia and the world from 21 November to 1 December. There was a focus on Singapore films, of which 17 were screened, including the festival’s opening film Wet Season as well as HBO’s series about the HDB heartlands, Invisible Stories.

Other local films screened include Unteachable, a documentary by Yong Shu Ling about teachers and students navigating Singapore’s results-oriented education system, as well as short films ADAM by Shoki Lin and Piece Of Meat by Jerrold Chong and Huang Junxiang.

As SGIFF marks its milestone in nurturing the film community in Singapore and across the region in the past three decades, we speak with Boo Junfeng, vice-chair of the board of SGIFF, as well as Kuo Ming-jung, programme director of SGIFF.

Boo, who has directed acclaimed films Apprentice and Sandcastle, won his first film awards for his first short film at SGIFF in 2005. “It kind of opened up not just a career but also a community to me. Over the years the different filmmakers like Kirsten Tan or Yeo Siew Hua, for example, these were all my peers who were in competition with me at various times – we grow, and we exchange, we learn from each other. And that's why this festival remains such a strong rallying point for the filmmaking community in Singapore: because it's not only just a festival that has discovered so many of us as filmmakers, but it's also kind of the community centre in a way, whereby, once a year, filmmakers come together, we watch the same films.”

Kuo said, “The film festival wants to support a younger generation of filmmakers. I hear a lot of filmmakers say, when they first started, they don't really know if they can call themselves filmmakers. I make a film, but then am I a director? If I go around and say I’m a director, people might say, oh, okay, but you just made one film. But then film festivals actually validate and also give the encouragement and the support for the filmmaker to feel they belong to somewhere. They're not lonely. They're not strange.”

This video made by SGIFF features various filmmakers and film lovers in Singapore talking about how attending the festival over the years fed and nurtured their love for film:

You can still catch the last weekend of SGIFF films – check out screenings on the SGIFF website.