Returning for its 29th edition, the Singapore International Film Festival turns its eye once again on Asian cinema, with 103 film screenings by talents from 44 countries. Starting from Nov 28, the 12-day festival will showcase classics and new titles, including debut features from Asian filmmakers such as Mag Hsu and Hsu Chih-yen. Their work, Dear Ex, takes viewers through loss, identity, and acceptance in the story of a widow who attempts to make peace with her late husband’s hot-headed former lover.
Another highlight in the Special Presentation category is The Third Wife, a period drama by Vietnamese filmmaker Ash Mayfair, which chronicles the life of a young woman who marries into a wealthy family and deals with issues like child marriage and women’s right in 19th century Vietnam.
The opening film, a 2018 feature called Cities of Last Things by Malaysian filmmaker Ho Wi Ding, brings you on a journey through three “extraordinary” nights in the life of an ordinary man, each one involving a different woman.
On the local side, 18 films and co-productions from Singapore will be screened, with six feature films and 12 shorts in the mix. One intriguing title to watch out for is the world premiere of Craig McTurk’s The Last Artisan, a documentary following Teo Veoh Seng, who recently retired after seven decades as the head artisan of Haw Par Villa.
There’s also A Time For Us, a tale of a pregnant woman who purchases a black market residency permit for her unborn child in Beijing by director Alvin Lee, and 2200 Volts, Tan Siyou’s short story of a woman who tries to find freedom from her life’s regrets while waiting for her time in the electric chair to come.
Film buffs can look forward to chatting with Cambodian filmmaker Rithy Panh, who will be receiving the Honorary Award at the festival, and Chinese-American actress Joan Chen, who will be presented the Cinema Legend Award this year. The former is a survivor of the Khmer Rouge genocides of the ’70s whose work revolves around his country, while the latter has appeared in over 40 film and TV roles in her career, from 1987’s The Last Emperor to 1990’s Twin Peaks.
If you’re a fan of classics from around the region, this year’s line-up includes comedies, dramas, and movies inspired by true stories. Thai filmmaker Yongyoot Thongkongtoon’s The Iron Ladies is a rib-tickling tale of a queer volleyball team that triumphs against the odds; Sepet, by the late Malaysian filmmaker Yasmin Ahmad, sets a boy-meets-girl story in her home country; while Midnight Express by Alan Parker takes on the controversial real-life story of American college student Billy Hayes, who was imprisoned in Turkey after he was caught smuggling drugs.
Going beyond Asia, films from other festivals like Sundance and Cannes are spotlighted as well, alongside coming-of-age narratives, social critiques, and fantasy thrillers from countries like France, Czech Republic, Belgium, and Chile.
Singapore International Film Festival 2018 is on from Nov 28-Dec 9 at various locations and timings.
Tickets $12-$25 per film; masterclasses/talks: refundable registration fee of $5.