BUS-STOP May 2018: Your Monthly SG Film Calendar

Come May 6, Sunday, we will witness a film screening with some measure of significance. Happy Together, an iconic Wong Kar Wai film starring the late Leslie Cheung will have only its second ever screening in Singapore at the Capitol Theatre. It is the closing film of the 6th Singapore Chinese Film Festival. This is happening almost 20 years after its first screening also at the Capitol Theatre, when it was the closing film of the Singapore International Film Festival in 1998. Film festivals and screenings come and go in a dizzy but we love it when a seminal film pulls all the film buffs, critics, academics, makers, whos whos and nobodies all together in a single night and set tongues wagging and everyone is in some kind of spiritual solidarity. A landmark screening aside, we are just blessed with a continuation of more distinguished films crossing over from April into May with Singular Screens under the Singapore International Festival of Arts and the Singapore Chinese Film Festival still running their final leg. But the big event in May is the 28th European Union Film Festival (EUFF), quite an institution in the scene by now. The selection this year is diverse, with everything ranging from war to Warsaw. Also, look out for Fragment in the EUFF, a Southeast Asian omnibus of short films made in 2015 by a line-up of some of the most progressive filmmakers in the region, including the Golden Lion-winning Lav Diaz.

1. Singapore International Festival of Arts - Singular Screens

Opened on 28 April, Singular Screens is a film screening programme under the Singapore International Festival of Arts 2018 (SIFA 2018) that celebrates independent voices across the world with an international line-up of 13 new films — one Asian premiere and 12 Singapore premieres. The films respond to the general sentiment of SIFAs programming with ideas revolving around the notion of resistance and the experience of the individual, from the adversity of fictive or real-life icons to the positions of the marginalised.

Curated by the Asian Film Archive, some recommended films include:

A Man of Integrity (Lerd)
Director Mohammad Rasoulof, Iran
117 min, Farsi
3 May, 7.30pm
As a scathing critique on the inherent corruption in contemporary Iranian society, the film tells the story about a man who lives in a simple life tending to his goldfish farm in northern Iran, but is threatened by the growing power of corruption. Banned in Iran, it won the 2017 Un Certain Regard prize at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, as well as the Best Director (International) and Best Actor (International) at the 54th Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival.

Directors/writers Affonso Uchoa & João Dumans, Brazil  
97 min, Portugese
4 May, 7.30pm
This political road movie is marked by boundless humanism and mature insights about the colourful life experiences of Cristiano after joining a theatre group at his factory. After he is incapacitated by an unseen incident at work, his hand-scrawled memoir is discovered by a bookish teenage neighbour, Andre who plunges into Cristiano’s life. The story of Brazilian social and economic development are reflected in Cristiano’s life, his happiness and his sufferings.  

Team Hurricane
Director Annika Berg, Denmark  
96 min, Danish
5 May, 7pm
A punk chick flick about teen girls that mixes highly stylized fictional elements with documentary material: loneliness, pussy-power, Kawaii, electric green, hentai, graffiti, vibrators, friendship, teddy bears, resting bitch face, ART, fire, fear, bubble-gum, mom & dad, anorexia, cactuses, homemade piercings, nail art, cherries, cutting, dolphins, Lolita, secret diaries and daydreaming. Radical girls in an ordinary world.
Madeline’s Madeline
Director Josephine Decker, USA
93 min, English
5 May, 9.30pm
Starring Cannes-award winning filmmaker and actress, Miranda July, who has been described as leading talent of the U.S. avant-garde, raw, unleased emotions are presented in this psychodrama as Decker probes the ambiguity between mental illness and teenage rebelliousness, as the teenage Madeline becomes an integral part of a prestigious, progressive and experimental theatre troupe in the city.

Tickets for SIFA Singular Screens are on sale at sifa.sg and all SISTIC authorised agents.

2. Singapore Chinese Film Festival

The 6th Singapore Chinese Film Festival takes place between 27 April to 6 May. It is the second largest film festival in Singapore with over 50 films screened across 11 days. This year's selection consists of 58 films in four main sections: Chinese Panorama (25 narrative feature films), Documentary Vision (12 documentaries), Chinese Shorts Showcase (17 short films) and a Tribute to Leslie Cheung (4 classics). Among the 58 films, a total of 44 are making their Singapore Premiere, of which four are presented in original Cantonese-dialogue for the first time in Singapore.

Some of the highlights include:

The Bold, The Corrupt and The Beautiful
Taiwan’s darkest and most highly regarded drama this past year. The feature makes its Singapore premiere at SCFF2018 after sweeping major accolades at the 54th Golden Horse Awards, including Best Picture, and Best Actress for Kara Hui’s uncanny performance as a political fixer.

The Empty Hands
Half-Chinese and half-Japanese Mari Hirakawa is the daughter of a Karate coach. Since her childhood, she was forced under her father’s training, and has resented Karate for as long as she can remember–her only wish is to sell the dojo after her father passes away. Following his death, Mari starts fantasizing about her life of freedom; however, she finds out from her lawyer that her father has only left her 49% ownership of the property, the other 51% was left to one of his worst pupils, Chan Keung. The two clash, and Chan has a proposition–if Mari is able to win a match in a legitimate martial arts competition, he will unconditionally give her his share of the property. Mari is trapped in a dilemma, and will have to make a choice that will change her life. Prolific comedienne actor Chapman To makes a stunning transition to film directing and is recognized by film critics as well as the Hong Kong Film Awards for his craft behind the camera and guiding the breakthrough performance of his leading actress Stephy Tang.

Compassionate and optimistic, Yan-kiu starts working as a social worker in an oncology ward, and has to provide assistance to patients and families affected by cancer. She is immediately assigned three cases: Cheung’s family with their little girl, Yan-yan, suffering from leukemia; the bride-to- be, Ka-shun, who is diagnosed with brain tumor; Auntie Lan, who is almost 80 years old and has less than a year to live due to late stage colorectal cancer. They all face death in their own ways: What’s the meaning of life if everyone is going to die at the end?

On Happiness Road
On Happiness Road (Taiwan) was the Closing Film at the 54th Golden Horse Film Festival, and winner of Best Animated Feature at the recent Tokyo Anime Awards 2018. Chi grew up on Happiness Road in Taiwan but has always been living in awe of the USA. Everything she knew about the country excited her; the chocolate, the cartoons. Chi was taught that the only way to earn happiness is to study hard so she could move to the USA. Chi took this to heart and eventually her dreams became reality when she got the opportunity to move to the USA, where she met her husband and settled down. However, Chi’s dream move didn’t turn out the way she hoped it would. She became lost in her seemingly happy life. On a trip home for her grandmother’s funeral, Chi stumbles into classmates and friends from years gone by. She begins to feel nostalgic about her childhood and starts to question her own supposed happiness. As Chi starts to redefine her own happiness with a trip down memory lane, she begins to contemplate the meaning of ‘life’ and ‘home’.

Beyond Beauty: Taiwan From Above
Tribute is paid to the legacy of director Chi Po-Lin, and his unfailing spirit and activism for environmental causes. Director Chi passed away last year in a helicopter crash while filming the sequel to Beyond Beauty: Taiwan From Above (50th Golden Horse Awards Best Documentary).

This is a five-hour long magnum opus that offers deep psychological insights into the lives and experiences of patients in a mental institution in Northeast China. The film won Best Documentary at the 54th Golden Horse Awards, and director Ma Li will be in attendance for the post-screening Q&A.

Happy Together
SCFF pays tribute to Hong Kong cinema legend Leslie Cheung, who passed away 15 years ago on 1st April 2003. Wong Kar Wai’s Happy Together, has been selected as the closing film. As mentioned above, this is one landmark screening event not to be missed. Lai (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) and his boyfriend, Ho (Leslie Cheung), arrive in Argentina from Hong Kong, seeking a better life. Their highly contentious relationship turns abusive and results in numerous break-ups and reconciliations. When Lai befriends another man, Chang (Chen Chang), he sees the futility of continuing with the promiscuous Ho. Chang, however, is on his own personal journey and, ultimately, both Lai and Ho find themselves far from home and desperately lonely.

3. The European Union Film Festival

2018 marks the 28th edition of the European Union Film Festival, (EUFF) making it Singapore's longest running foreign film festival. The EUFF is known for showcasing the best of contemporary European filmmaking and will run from May 10 - May 20, 2018, at the National Gallery Singapore.

The 28th EUFF will be presenting over 20 films from across Europe with Austria as the featured country this year. Opening the festival this year is the film Fly Away Home from Austria. Set in 1945 Vienna where the powder keg of war and the Russian occupation is seen through the innocent eyes of nine-year old Christine. The film is based on a novel by Christine Nöstlinger, the most popular children’s book author in Austria and Germany. Director Mirjam Unger will be present for the opening night screening.
Fly Away Home

In this landmark year, the 28th EUFF is proud to showcase the EU-SINGAPORE-ASEAN special collaboration with a presentation of the film Fragment, an omnibus film celebrating the strength and diversity of South-East Asian independent cinema. Made up of a collage of ten stories, each story distinctively embraces the other's subjectivities. SINdie ran an interview with the filmmakers of Fragment 2 years ago. These filmmakers included some of the most progressive names in Southeast Asia, including Lav Diaz, Lucky Kuswandi and Tan Chui Mui. Check out the interview here.
Festival Highlights:
In the Wake of War
Apart from the opening film, the Second World War forms the backdrop of the Danish film Land of Mine (2015) and The King’s Choice (2016) from Norway.  
Overcoming The Odds


The Festival also features inclusive films focusing on stories about challenges faced by those with special needs, such as Ireland’s romantic comedy Sanctuary (2017) about an intellectually disabled couple longing for some time alone. Poland’s Life Feels Good (2013) and Breathe (2017) from the UK tell the story of the heartwrenching realities of strong-willed but physically disabled individuals fighting for the opportunity to live and love without boundaries.
Love, Friendship and Family


Friendship and love are at the core of Spain’s poignant film Truman (2015), about a cancer patient’s final months and farewell with his childhood friend. Italy’s Perfect Strangers (2016) and Portugal’s Mother Knows Best (2016), revolve around the dinner table where friends and family come together over a meal and where sometimes drama unfolds. In Perfect Strangers friends struggle to hide their secrets from each other while pretending they have nothing to hide, while in Mother Knows Best memories are shared and life choices are suddenly questioned. In Latvia’s Grandpa More Dangerous Than Computer (2017), family is once again central to the plot, this time about grandparents who have been left in charge of their grandchildren more used to technology than the rough and tumble of the countryside. Finally, Malta’s Love to Paradise (2017) is a glimpse into young love and the struggles that any seemingly picture-perfect couple would face.
Female Perspectives

The Divine Order

The Festival features several films with strong female leads, offering authentic perspectives from women. The Divine Order (2017) explores the fight for women's suffrage in Switzerland in 1971 through the eyes of the women of a quaint little Swiss village. Demonstrating how peer pressure can influence the political process, the film is a timely echo of current developments. Also anchored in news, Belgium’s Insyriated (2017) tells of a Syrian family trapped in their apartment and a mother trying desperately to keep them together as the war rages on outside. German film Fukushima, Mon Amour (2016) focuses on two women - a German volunteer and the last geisha of Fukushima as they retreat to the formerly radioactive Exclusion Zone to confront their individual pasts together.
Loss of Innocence

Bulgaria's Monkey

Sometimes, childhood is ironically full of struggles. Films such as Bulgaria's Monkey (2016), France’s Custody (2017) and Ukraine’s The Stronghold (2017) show children taking up the role of being courageous and being burdened with having to make tough, life-changing decisions.
In Pursuit of Dreams


From Formula One to horse racing, from long-distance cycling to playing the violin - all in pursuit of a dream to be the best. Documentary film Superswede (2017) is a biopic about Swedish racing legend who perished in a crash in 1978 doing what he loved. Hungarian film Kincsem - Bet on Revenge (2017), lavishly unfolds to tell the true story of an adventure with a miraculous race horse that wins every race. Dutch film Tulipani: Love, Honour And a Bicycle (2017), combines passion for life and love to recount the tale of a Dutchman who cycles south to Italy to start over. Finland’s The Violin Player (2018) follows Karin, a celebrated violin player whose career abruptly ends after an accident but determined to be led by her ambition.
Comedic Capers

The Dissidents

Three films from Estonia, Lithuania and Romania offer movie-goers some delightful comedic twists. The Dissidents (2017) an action comedy from Estonia takes you back to the 80s where three young delinquents flee to the West to seek out the asseen-on-TV dream life. Lithuania’s Miracle (2017) is another throwback to the past, this time to the early 90s when Lithuania was transitioning from communism into capitalism. The Treasure (2015) from Romania is a dark comedy that sees two men going on a hunt for a buried ‘treasure’, unearthing not only dirt but also traces of Romania’s often tumultuous history.

A Platform for Student Films The festival continues EUFF’s established tradition of collaborating with a Singaporean film school and offering several first time student filmmakers to showcase their student shorts. Partnering for the fourth time with Ngee Ann Polytechnic's School of Film and Media Studies, the EUFF will present short films by students and alumni of the school alongside the official film selection.
EUFF 2018 Dates & Ticketing The EUFF will take place from 10 to 20 May and will be held at the National Gallery Singapore.
Festival tickets are priced at $12 and are available for sale through SISTIC from 9 April. Concessions are extended to National Gallery Singapore members, those aged 55 years and above, NSFs, students, Singapore Film Society members, and group purchases of 6 tickets or more ($1 off per ticket).
For ticket sales visit www.sistic.com.sg. Visit www.euff.sg for more information and updates on the 28th European Union Film Festival.

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