ShoutOUT! SGIFF in its 32nd edition with brand new sections and perspectives


Opening film ‘Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash’

A champion of Southeast Asian independent cinema, the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) returns for its 32 nd edition in theatres-only from 25 November to 5 December 2021. This year’s Festival will present a diverse, inclusive range of over 100 films by filmmakers from all over the world. These carefully selected films speak of memories, emotions, inspired conversations and discussions — that together celebrate the rejuvenation and continuity of film and storytelling in the cinematic community. 

Programme Director, Thong Kay Wee’s goal for his inaugural Festival line-up was to build on the Festival’s legacy while introducing fresh perspectives to excite existing and new audiences. “As the largest and longest-running film event in Singapore, SGIFF has the greatest capacity to engage the widest local interest in cinema. We need to use this potential to cultivate a deeper and more diverse appreciation of film culture within our society,” says Thong. “I wish to foster more curiosities, encourage more audiences to embrace different positionalities, and express a principle that humanity vis-à-vis cinema can always be open-ended when we choose to think beyond the lines of regionality and boundaries. We gather in the theatres again simply to enjoy and understand one another better.” 

In this vein, the 32nd Festival line-up is presented across five new sections, expressed by different positionings, to better profile the films based on the nature of their content. Foreground presents some of the film attractions of the year, including award-winners, festival favourites and critically acclaimed new works from established auteurs, including ‘A Hero’ by Asghar Fahadi which won the Grand Prix at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, ‘Petite Maman’ by Celine Sciamma, a French drama film that first premiered at the 71st Berlin International Film Festival and ‘Great Freedom’ by Sebastian Meise, which won the Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival. 

A Hero

Memoria

Milestone highlights films with special significance such as an important event in the development of a filmmaker’s career, national cinema or film history in general that ought to be celebrated with audiences. The films include ‘Memoria’, Apichapong Weerasethakul’s first film foray out of his home country of Thailand. Starring Tilda Swinton, the film had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival 2021. Also in the selection is ‘Barbarian Invasion’ by Malaysian director Tan Chui Mui’s first feature film in more than a decade, with collaborators from the Malaysian New Wave. The piece has won the Jury Grand Prix, one of the two top honours at the Golden Goblet Awards, in conjunction with the 24th Shanghai International Film Festival. 'Those Left Waiting' is a film conceived by Australian director Michael Beets and is the first-ever global live documentary co-directed and filmed by refugee filmmakers, and edited in real time. ‘Karmalink’ is the first science fiction movie set in Cambodia with Khmer actors and characters, and the debut feature by American director Jake Wachtel. 


Mr Bachmann and His Class

Standpoint platforms important attitudes of personal, social and political consequences through the cinematic medium and its accompanying discussions. These perspectives not only align themselves with urgent and topical issues, but also showcase creativity on their own terms. The films include ‘Some Women’ by Quen Wong, which is the debut feature of Singapore’s first transgender film director as she lays bare her vulnerabilities to reclaim her identity, ‘Mr Bachmann and His Class’ by Maria Speth is a sensitive and compelling portrait of immigrant youths adapting to life in a town with a troubled history, aided by their thoughtful and inspired teacher. It won the Silver Bear Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the Berlinale (Berlin International Film Festival) 2021. 

All Light Everywhere

Undercurrent uncovers and affirms imaginative treatments of the moving image within the practice of cinematic presentations. The films include ‘All Light Everywhere’ by Theo Anthony which touches on the broad history of photography and cinematic cameras, and the false fantasies that it is an objective machine that captures indexical truth. It was the winner of the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award at Sundance Film Festival 2021. ‘A Night of Knowing Nothing’ is Payal Kapadia’s debut hybrid feature — a fever dream of impossible love tied to a broader reflection on contemporary India. The film won the Oeil d'or (Golden Eye) Award for best documentary at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival. 'The Edge of Daybreak' is a gothic evocation of a family’s trauma enmeshed in three decades of Thai politics. This is the debut feature by Taiki Sakpisit won the FIPRESCI Award at the 2021 International Film Festival Rotterdam. 

Domain is a new thematic section focused on a sphere of activity and knowledge in cinema. This year, SGIFF has invited film curators Inge de Leeuw and Julian Ross to programme the inaugural edition with their chosen theme: artist and filmmaker collectives. The films include ‘Nightcleaners’, a documentary made by members of the Berwick Street Collective in 1975, raising awareness of the situation of women cleaning offices overnight for very low pay and ‘Inside the Red Brick Wall’, a powerfully immediate account of the November 2019 Pro-Democracy Protest at Hong Kong Polytechnic University by an anonymous collective known as Hong Kong Documentary Filmmakers. 

Inside the Red Brick Wall

SGIFF also retains the beloved Singapore Panorama category, highlighting local filmmaking talent, which has strengthened in numbers for SGIFF 2021 with 23 local films being showcased, including ‘Scene UnSeen’ by the late Abdul Nizam and his friends, and ‘Mat Magic’ by Mat Sentol and John Calvert. The latter is a 1971 Cathay-Keris classic, 50th anniversary, newly restored film by the Asian Film Archive. 

As an affirmation of the festival’s commitment to promoting Asian cinema and forging new relationships in the region, five regional co-production feature films will also be presented: ‘Anatomy of Time’, ‘Yuni’, ‘Whether the Weather is Fine’, ‘Rehana Maryam Noor’ as well as this year’s opening film ‘Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash’. Opening Films Explore Machismo and Memories 

Yuni

The Opening Film for this year’s festival, “Vengeance is Mine, All Others Pay Cash’ is a riotous, black comedy-drama that explores the prevalence of toxic masculinity. Directed by Indonesian wunderkind Edwin, the film is an adaptation of Man Booker-nominated Eka Kurniawan’s best-selling book. 

“I have been following SGIFF since 2004, and showed my first short film ‘A Very Slow Breakfast’. To now be able to open the festival almost two decades later is an amazing, serendipitous feeling,” shares Edwin. “In fact, it was SGIFF that introduced me to Southeast Asian cinema and correspondingly, a network of peers that are now friends. Within our region, we speak different languages and have different cultures, but we are connected by the same feelings, tastes, voices, memories, and dreams. I very much look forward to seeing more Southeast Asian cinema on the world stage.” 

Edwin and Kurniawan co-wrote the screenplay, and the film won the Golden Leopard for ‘Best Film’ category in the 74th edition of the Locarno Film Festival (2021). It is also a recipient of IMDA and the Singapore Film Commission’s (SFC) Southeast Asia Co-Production Grant. 

Presented alongside the opening film is this year’s festival-commissioned short “Dreaming” by Nelson Yeo, who won Best Singapore Short Film at the 2020 Silver Screen Awards for his work “Here Is Not There”. The 15-minute film looks at the reunion of three old friends that reignites a love triangle. 

Every year, SGIFF honours and recognises the exceptional contributions of filmmakers, whose iconic works have helped shape Asian cinema, at the Silver Screen Awards. This year’s Asian Feature Film Competition presents 10 new films by directors making their first to third features. With entries such as ‘Rehana Maryam Noor’ by Abdullah Mohammad Saad, the first film from Bangladesh to officially screen at Cannes and co-produced by Singapore producer Jeremy Chua, the dynamism of the region is fully expressed through each film’s distinct localism and diversity of style. Likewise, the Southeast Asian Short Film Competition presents 23 new films across five programmes, offering a nuanced overview of the region while accentuating the complexities and specificities located within. 

Rehana Maryam Noor

For the very first time, SGIFF will be awarding the inaugural Outstanding Contribution to Southeast Asian Cinema Award to Southeast Asia Fiction Film Lab (SEAFIC), for their exceptional work in elevating regional cinema. An intensive script and development incubator for Southeast Asian filmmakers, SEAFIC has helped to advance, strengthen and refine the quality of feature-length scripts and projects from the region. Besides filmmaking, the award takes into consideration resource-building, heritage preservation and promotion, among others. 

“At SGIFF, we are reminded every day of the passionate individuals in the film community who work so hard together to bring you on a cinematic storytelling journey. For SGIFF 2021, we want to celebrate the necessary persistence of storytelling as a mobius strip that twists, curls and bends, carrying on as an infinite loop — represented through this year’s festival key visual”, shares Emily J. Hoe, Executive Director, SGIFF. “If 2020 was the year we stepped out of our comfort zones to make SGIFF a hybrid format, I am proud to say we have come full circle, emerging stronger than ever and taking the gathering back to the cinemas, where we experience the true magic of film.” 

The 32nd SGIFF will be hosted across multiple festival venues, with screenings at Filmgarde Bugis+, Carnival Cinema at Golden Mile Tower, Golden Village Grand, Oldham Theatre, National Museum of Singapore, and Shaw Lido; talks and panels will be held at The Arts House and The Projector; and Film Academy sessions at LASALLE College of the Arts, Nanyang Technological University and WILD RICE. SGIFF is an event of the Singapore Media Festival (SMF), hosted by Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA).

Priority Sale tickets for SGIFFriends are available for purchase at SGIFF.com from 8 November, 12pm. Official Ticket Sales commence 9 November, 12pm.

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