Top 8 films to watch at Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA)

Staff Writer, Singapore
·Editorial Team
(GRAPHIC: SIFA)
(GRAPHIC: SIFA)

SINGAPORE — 23 films and additional programmes have been added to the lineup for the 42nd Singapore International Festival of Arts this year.

Specially curated by the Asian Film Archive (AFA), SIFA’s Singular Screens will feature five Singapore premieres, 14 Southeast Asian premieres, and four Asian premieres.

The three-week festival – held from 16 May to 2 June – will also see the addition of four new programmes, including a training workshop by director Tadashi Suzuki and a panel by Singapore-based artists Edith Podesta, Soultari Amin Farid and Susan Sentler, and an extra showing for the Frogman.

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Here are our top eight film picks (in no particular order):

Demons (Singapore, South-east Asian premiere)

Directed by Daniel Hui

18 & 26 May, Oldham Theatre

83 minutes; English & Mandarin with English subtitles

The Singapore film, the first of Singular Screens, follows the story of an aspiring actress, Vicki, who lands a role in Hui’s new theatre production. However, what was to be her dream role turns out to be more than what she expected, as she becomes a pawn in a game of manipulation.

Black Mother (USA, South-east Asian premiere)

Directed by Khalik Allah
31 May, Oldham Theatre

77 minutes; English

Loosely structured as the trimesters of a pregnancy, NYC street photographer and filmmaker Khalik Allah’s haunting documentary pays tribute to Jamaican history, culture, spirituality, and philosophy.

The Dead and the Others (Brazil/Portugal, South-east Asian premiere)

Directed by João Salaviza & Renée Nader Messora

20 May, Oldham Theatre

114 minutes; Krahô and Portuguese with English subtitles

Fifteen-year-old Ihjãc, an indigenous Krahô from the north of Brazil, is tasked to organise his father’s funerary feast so that the latter’s spirit can depart to the village of the dead. However, Ihjãc runs away from his duty to the city, where he must face the reality of being an indigenous person in contemporary Brazil.

The Return (Denmark/South Korea, Singapore premiere)
Directed by Malene Choi
19 & 25 May, Oldham Theatre & Screening room at Festival House
84 minutes; Danish, English, Korean with English subtitles

When fiction meets documentary: two Danish-Korean adoptees return to their native land for the first time to find their bird parents. As they get to know each other and the personal stories of fellow adoptees they meet in Seoul, the duo is forced to question their own destiny and identity.

Chained For Life (USA, Asian premiere)

Directed by Aaron Schimberg

18 May, Oldham Theatre

91 minutes; English

A beautiful actress struggles to connect with her disfigured co-star on the set of a horror movie in a dark satire that critiques depictions of disability and disfigurement.

Belonging (Turkey, South-east Asian premiere)

Directed by Burak Cevik

1 June, Screening room at Festival House

73 minutes; Turkish with English subtitles

The film is inspired by the murder of Çevik’s grandmother by his aunt, Pelin, and her lover, Onur 15 years ago. Çevik revisits the locations of the case, accompanied by statements given by the suspects and flashes back to their first encounter and mutual attraction.

Domains (Japan, South-east Asian premiere)

Directed by Kusano Natsuka

2 June, Screening room at Festival House

150 minutes; Japanese with English subtitles

Naoko and Aki are childhood friends who have drifted apart: Naoko now has a husband and daughter, while Aki, remains single and is on leave from work due to a personal crisis. Their lives intersect again when Aki confesses to murdering Naoko’s daughter. The story, which is never visually represented, takes place in a room where three actors recite from a script.

Your Face (Taiwan, South-east Asian premiere)

Directed by Tsai Ming-Liang

2 June, Oldham Theatre

95 minutes; Mandarin with English subtitles (preceded by short film Light)

Director Tsai captures Taipei’s Zhongshan Hall (Light) and people on the streets of Taipei (Your Face). The latter is made of 13 close-ups of men and women, some of whom remained silent.

Tickets ($12 per film and $30 for a bundle of three films) are available at www.sifa.sg, SISTIC outlets and via their hotline.

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