ShoutOUT!: Southeast Asian Film Festival returns with exciting works

The Southeast Asian Film Festival returns for its fifth year with an exciting presentation of the newest and most compelling cinematic work emerging from the region. This year’s Festival features films from Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam; as well as post-screening discussions from emerging and veteran directors. A celebration of independent filmmaking, the Festival reflects the diversity and contemporary socio-political and cultural issues of the region through film genres such as action, comedy, documentary, drama, and more.
 The Last Executioner
 Fundamentally Happy
Jade Miners
Dates: 10 April – 3 May 2015
Venue: Moving Image Gallery, Level 2, SAM at 8Q
$10* for each film screening (concessions available) | $7.50 per screening with purchase of 5 SEAFF tickets and more
Tickets are available from SISTIC from mid-March 2015. For ticket availability at the door, please call SISTIC at 6348 5555.
For more information, please visit the Singapore Art Museum link here.

The Last Executioner
Tom Waller, 2014, Thailand, 95 min
Thai with English subtitles, M18 (Mature content)
Friday, 10 April 2015 | 7.30pm
Singapore Premiere
Featuring a post-screening discussion with director Tom Waller

This film tells the true story of Chavoret Jaruboon, the last person in Thailand whose job it was to execute by machine gun. A wild rock-and-roller in his youth, Jaruboon becomes a state prison guard in a bid for respectability. However, when he is appointed executioner, he is plunged into a never-ending conflict between his morality and his duty. How is it possible to reconcile the good karma that comes from being a dedicated family man and employee, and the bad karma that comes from being a killer?

The Search for Weng Weng
Andrew Leavold, 2013, Australia/Philippines, 96 min
English and Tagalog with English subtitles, PG13 (Brief nudity)
Saturday, 11 April 2015 | 5.00pm
Singapore Premiere
Featuring a post-screening discussion with director Andrew Leavold and producer Daniel Palisa
This film is part of the festival sidebar Action Asia: The Wild Wild Years of Asian Film Action.

Standing just under 85 centimetres, Weng Weng was a Filipino James Bond who was adept at karate chops, machine-gun wielding, and the art of wooing a woman. An enigma even to those who have worked with him, his cinematic reign as the midget Agent 00 was an outrageous novelty that plucked him from complete obscurity and then returned him to it just as quickly. An engaging history of Filipino B-grade cinema and the business of film, power and politics, this documentary features directors, producers, actors, stuntmen, dwarf waiters, and even Imelda Marcos herself, each with their unique place in Filipino cinema.

Fluid Boundaries
Mun Jeonghyun, Vladimir Todorovic and Daniel Rudi Haryanto, 2014, Indonesia/Serbia/Singapore/South Korea, 87 min
Various languages with English subtitles, PG13 (Some mature content)
Saturday, 11 April 2015 | 7.30pm
Singapore Premiere
Featuring a post-screening discussion with directors Vladimir Todorovic and Daniel Rudi Haryanto

In a series of video letters, a director from Indonesia, Korea and Singapore reflect on socio-political, cultural and geographical borders and share stories of people who cross them. Workers of different nationalities flock to Singapore to find a job, renewing their employment passes in Malaysia. Others find themselves frequently crossing the border demarcating East Timor and Indonesia. Desperate realities face an immigrant family in South Africa, while a person who left Vietnam for a refugee camp in Indonesia recounts his past. Another reminisces about tragic life of his uncle, who had to change his nationality from Joseon to Korean. What are the threads that tie these different individuals and their varied stories together? Through the lives of these people and the unpredictable twists of modern history, we witness the rigidity of borders melt away

The Look of Silence
Joshua Oppenheimer, 2014, Denmark/Finland/Indonesia/Norway/UK, 99 min
Bahasa Indonesia and Javanese with English subtitles, Rating to be advised

The 2012 documentary The Act of Killing was a troubling, surreal look at a forgotten chapter of Indonesian history: the killing of more than one million alleged communists, ethnic Chinese and intellectuals following the overthrow of the government by the military in the 1960s. This film focuses instead on the perspective of the victims rather than the victors of history. Village optometrist Adi’s older brother was one of these victims, and as he quizzes his patients about their memories of this violent era, he discovers the story of how his brother was murdered, and that some of his killers are still in positions of great power. Adi decides to confront each of them, asking them how they can possibly live side by side with their victims’ loved ones.

Giancarlo Abrahan, 2014, Philippines, 120 min
Tagalog with English subtitles, M18 (Sexual Scenes)
Sunday, 12 April 2015 | 5.30pm
International Premiere
Featuring a post-screening discussion with director Giancarlo Abrahan
Jimmy and Issey are professors who have been married for 25 years and are on the brink of separation. Jimmy’s research work is interrupted by an apparition who seems to be an ex-girlfriend, to whom he is equally haunted by and drawn to. Meanwhile, Issey goes on a creative writing retreat where she is mentoring young writers, and finds herself drawn to university student Gab. When one of Gab’s non-fiction pieces about his sexual awakening comes to widespread attention, a scandal ensues that puts everyone’s relationships under a spotlight. The virtuoso performances of Eula Valdez and Nonie Buencamino complement Abrahan’s deftly written, absorbing screenplay.

Vanishing Point
Jakrawal Nilthamrong, 2015, Netherlands/Thailand, 100 min
Thai with English subtitles, M18 (Sexual scenes)
Friday, 17 April 2015 | 7.30pm
Singapore Premiere
Featuring a post-screening discussion with director Jakrawal Nilthamrong

The starting point of this experimental drama is a disastrous car crash that took place more than 30 years ago. The film then follows two characters whose lives intersect in tangential ways: an idealistic young journalist who accompanies police to crime scene reconstructions, and a factory owner in a border town, who is experiencing some family problems. Along the way we meet his teenage daughter, a motherly sex worker, a dreaming monk, and the film slowly but surely reaches its denouement. Wending through visions, tall tales and strange sceneries, this meditative work always returns to the notion of the karmic cycle and the idea that every action taken and decision made affects the course of one or many lives. Vanishing Point won the Hivos Tiger Award at the International Film Festival Rotterdam (2015).

Chasing Waves
Charliebebs Gohetia, 2015, Philippines, 92 min
Visayan with English subtitles, PG (Some violence)
Saturday, 18 April 2015 | 5.00pm
World Premiere
Featuring a post-screening discussion with director Charliebebs Gohetia

Young Sipat’s family lives in the remote Southern Philippines community Panyan where he has spent his entire life. However, they are forced by their landlord to leave the mountains to migrate to the unfamiliar landscapes of the seaside. Nervous but excited, Sipat is convinced that his greatest dream of experiencing the beach will be fulfilled. As he counts down the days to his departure with his best friend En-En, he is unaware of what the future will hold. The semi-unexplored terrain of Barangay Tamugan with its peaks, caves, falls and rivers forms a dramatic backdrop to the natural, unaffected performances by the child actors.

Garuda Power: The Spirit Within
Bastian Meiresonne, 2014, France/Indonesia, 77 min
Bahasa Indonesia with English subtitles, NC16 (Some violence and gore)
Saturday, 18 April 2015 | 5.00pm
Singapore Premiere
This film is part of the festival sidebar Action Asia: The Wild Wild Years of Asian Film Action.

An incredible journey into Indonesia's action films from their beginnings in the 1920s up to ithe latest international successes, this documentary is an insight into one of the less well-known cinematic action industries. This colourful history is closely related to the country’s own development, with the mythical heroes and spectacular set-pieces serving as escapism and indirect social critique while representing the popular desires of the tens of thousands of ordinary people who enjoyed them over the years. This film features hitherto unseen footage, rare images, unusual poster art and interviews with actors, directors and choreographers.

Pham Nhue Giang, 2013, Vietnam, 87 min
Vietnamese with English subtitles, M18 (Sexual scene)
Sunday, 19 April 2015 | 3.00pm
Singapore Premiere

Leaving their village to earn a living in the big city, Tham and Quy’s relationship soon suffers in the face of their impoverished conditions. Depressed Tham falls for the charms of Thuat, an urbane and sophisticated man. When Quy discovers Thuat’s secret, he embarks on a desperate search for his wife. An examination about the choices and risks faced by women, the film presents the urban environment as a place where independence and agency can be pursued, but in the face of constant turbulence and temptations. Aimless won the Silver Kite from the Vietnam Cinema Association (2013) and the Silver Lotus from the18th National Film Festival, Vietnam (2013).

K’na the Dreamweaver
PIda Anita del Mundo, 2014, Philippines, 85 min,
T’boli with English subtitles, PG
Sunday, 19 April 2015 | 5.30pm
International Premiere
Featuring a post-screening discussion with director Ida Anita del Mundo

This film tells the story of one of the legends of the T’boli indigenous peoples of Southern Mindanao. A century-old clan war has separated the community into two villages on the North and South banks of Lake Sebu. K’na is her village’s dreamweaver, but her budding romance with childhood friend Silaw is dashed when her father arranges a marriage between her and the heir to the throne of the North so as to end the war. As the wedding date draws near, a revolution brews among those who do not believe in the joining of the two royal clans.

Fundamentally Happy
Tan Bee Thiam and Lei Yuan Bin, 2015, Singapore, 60 min
English and some Malay with English subtitles, NC16 (Mature themes)
Friday, 24 April 2015 | 5.30pm
World Premiere
Featuring a post-screening discussion with director Tan Bee Thiam and Lei Yuan Bin

Twenty years ago, Habiba and Eric were neighbours. When Eric revisits her home to find her still living there with her husband, what seems like a friendly reunion turns into the gradual revelation of a painful secret from the past. Winner of Best Production and Best Original Script at the 2007 Life! Theatre Awards, this chamber drama gets a film treatment by Singapore independents Tan Bee Thiam and Lei Yuan Bin, with the camera helmed by Christopher Doyle. An unflinching look at the consequences of abuse, Fundamentally Happy explores without judgment or condemnation critical issues such as trust, memory, relationships and consent.

Daniel Ziv, 2013, Indonesia, 107 min
Bahasa Indonesia with English subtitles, NC16 (Some coarse language)
Saturday, 25 April 2015 | 5.00pm

About 7,000 buskers roam the busy streets of Jakarta. Easy-going Boni lives in a sewage tunnel with his wife, tapping on city power and water supplies. Rare female busker Titi balances her religious family’s demands with her job, and plans to return to school. Dreadlocked Ho’s specialties are anti-establishment songs, but he is also looking for a stable relationship. With their original compositions as soundtracks, the film traces the three musicians’ elusive quests for identity, autonomy and love in a turbulent city overrun by the effects of globalisation and corruption. This film won best documentary at the Busan Film Festival 2013.

Jade Miners
Midi Z, 2015, Myanmar/Taiwan, 104 min
Myanma Bhasa with English subtitles, PG13 (Some coarse language)
Sat, 25 Apr 2015 | 7:30pm
Asian Premiere

Jade is a prized gem across Asia, and an important source is Kachin state in Myanmar. However, hostilities between the Kachin Independence Army and the Myanmar army have led to hundreds of kilometres of jade mines ceasing their operations as they become a war zone. Despite the risk of arrest or physical danger from the chaotic landscape, workers from all over Myanmar still flock to these deserted mines to dig illegally for jade, desperately hoping to find a piece that will transform their lives. Shot with the aid of locals, Midi Z has complied a sober and intimate social documentary that focuses on the daily lives of these labourers.

Joel Lamangan, 2014, Philippines, 120 min
Tagalog with English subtitles, R21 (Sexual scenes)
Sunday, 26 April 2015, 3.00pm
Singapore Premiere

Biring’s boss runs a human trafficking syndicate in Manila, and her job entails bribing the authorities to turn a blind eye to their illegal activities, which is not difficult when the bureaucracy is already corrupt. Even though her children refuse her money because of how it was made, Biring knows that in this line, it's better to see no evil, hear no evil and look after only yourself. However, when she is framed for murder, she starts on a spiral of ever-deepening reprobation. When she has to make the stark choice of whether to be a victim or a victimiser, her transformation becomes complete. This film features a complex, bravura performance by superstar Nora Aunor.

So Be It
Kongdej Jaturanrasmee, 2014, Thailand, 85 min
Thai and Hmong with English subtitles, PG
Sunday, 26 April 2015, 5.30pm
Singapore Premiere

Seven-year-old Thai-American student William becomes an overnight celebrity when he participates in a reality show that depicts his experiences in a Buddhist summer ordination programme. Meanwhile, 11-year old Bundit, who is from an ethnic minority hilltribe, starts on his own Buddhist journey as he is sent to a temple along with more than 2,000 children, where he chafes at the strict rules and being separated from his family. Both William and Bundit must learn in their own ways to pursue freedom of mind and self-control of spirit. The documentary-fiction hybrid film is a coming-of-age tale of two boys from vastly different backgrounds, who each have their own way of learning the meaning of Buddhism in daily life.

Daniel Hui, 2014, Portugal/Singapore, 105 min
English, Rating to be advised
Saturday, 1 May 2015, 7.30pm
Asian Premiere
Featuring a post-screening discussion with director Daniel Hui
Tickets are available from SISTIC from mid-March 2015.

It is the year 2066, and the sole survivor of an enigmatic cult recounts his country's traumatic history and the events that led to the rise and collapse of this cult. As he reminiscences, ghosts from 2014 and the years before appear as witnesses. Part dream documentary, part city symphony, this hybrid film traces the lineage of oppression as inscribed both in Singapore's physical landscape, as well as its collective unconscious. The narrative voice-over reflects on that which is forgotten, subjective, and polymorphic in history. This unusual film is a thoughtful look at the legacy and future of this strange Southeast Asian island.

Nghiem-Minh Nguyen-Vo, 2014, Vietnam, 98 min
Vietnamese with English subtitles, M18 (Sexual scene)
Saturday, 2 May 2015, 5.00pm
Singapore Premiere

Set in the vast and beautiful coastal regions of southern Vietnam, this dystopic film envisions a near future when water levels have risen to swallow farmlands due to global climate change. The Vietnamese people must now live in houseboats and rely solely on rapidly-depleting fishing grounds for food. As vegetables are now highly priced commodities, huge multinational conglomerates are competing to build floating farms. Amidst all this is fisherwoman Sao, who was briefly involved with visiting science researcher Giang before her marriage. However, when her husband Thi is murdered, Sao sets out to discover the truth and is forced to make a dramatic decision.

Riddles of My Homecoming
Arnel Mardoquio, 2013, Philippines, 82 min,
No Dialogue, R21 (Sexual scenes and violence)
Saturday, 2 May 2015, 7.30pm
International Premiere
Featuring a post-screening discussion with assistant director Yam Palma

One of the most experimental narratives yet to speak of the conditions of exploitation and poverty in southern Philippines, this film is a visual tapestry of evocative symbols, choreography and landscapes. Alfad’s dream is to work abroad. Swallowed by the sea, his soul returns to the island of his birth where he finds his memories on its shore. Aliya is a young girl who represents the spirit of the new day and the uncertainty of the future. When they return to their homeland, they find it destroyed and the people searching for a divine presence to save them, which emerges in the form of old Wahab, ruler of a strange cult. However, female shaman Mariposa and rebel woman farmer Mayka join forces to confront him.

Wukan: The Flame of Democracy
Lynn Lee and James Leong, 2013, Singapore, 90 min
Mandarin with English subtitles, NC16 (Mature content)
Sunday, 3 May 2015, 3.00pm
Wukan, a village in southern China, captured international attention in 2011 when demonstrators took to the streets to rebel against decades of corrupt rule. When the village committee fell and democratic elections were announced, Wukan’s residents then found themselves grappling with the challenges of a new political system. Former rebel leaders now had to respond the demands of the electorate, and deal with provincial and county authorities. This intimate documentary of a rural Chinese community mirrors the complex mix of challenges, euphoria, hopes and hard realities facing fledgling democracies across the world.

Nik Amir Mustapha, 2014, Malaysia, 106 min
Bahasa Malaysia and some English with English subtitles, NC16 (Some drug use)
Sunday, 3 May 2015, 5.30pm
International Premiere

Filmmaker Berg, obsessed with an unidentified blob he saw in the sky when he was a student, reunites his old friends on a whim, calling them to go on a road trip for old times’ sake, while capturing this alien spacecraft on film. Despite their doubts about Berg’s filmmaking abilities and drug habit, they all agree to go on this expedition, as each of them have their personal reasons for doing so. As they reminisce, tension arises as they start to disagree on what happened back in school. This chase for this elusive UFO becomes more than what it seems. A quirky genre mash-up of comedy, sci-fi and buddy movie, NOVA contains several homages to Malaysian cinema.

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