27th SGIFF Concludes Successfully With Close To 13,000 Audiences And 11 Sold Out Screenings

  • Absent Without Leave by Malaysia’s Lau Kek-Huat also emerged as the winning film of the Audience Choice Award.

Singapore, 4 December 2016 – The 27th Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF)’s 12-day celebration of independent cinema came to a close today, with a well-attended crowd of close to 13,000 festival-goers from Singapore and across the region to its film screenings, talks, forums and masterclasses. 

Committed to telling the region’s story through film, the internationally-recognised film festival showcased a total of 161 feature and short films from 52 countries this year, of which 11 screenings, including that of four local productions, were sold out. There was also an increase of over 50% in attendance for the masterclasses and talks this year, a testament to the growing support and interest towards independent cinema.

Absent Without Leave by Malaysian director Lau Kek-Huat also emerged as the favourite feature film among festival-goers at this edition of SGIFF’s Audience Choice Award, in recognition of the growing desire by festival goers for greater involvement. The film, which is also Lau’s debut feature documentary, navigates the murky waters of Malayan history that appears far removed from the present as Lau attempts to reconnect with his absent father. What follows is the gradual unravelling of his grandfather’s forgotten story: an absent father to the filmmaker’s own absent father, but also a guerrilla Communist soldier, a protector, a martyr of Malaya during WWII.

Across the 12 days, festival goers also had the opportunity to get up-close with distinguished film personalities from around the world, including Taiwanese actor Kai Ko, USA director Darren Aronofsky, veteran Hong Kong actor Simon Yam, Vietnamese-born French filmmaker Tran Anh Hung, Hong Kong filmmaker Fruit Chan, Indian director Anurag Kashyap, Hong Kong actress Kara Wai, Taiwanese rocker Wu Bai, award winning Japanese filmmaker Naomi Kawase, at masterclasses, talks and In Conversation sessions.

SGIFF Executive Director, Yuni Hadi, said, “Stories bring people from all walks of life together, and remain as the cornerstone of filmmaking. This year, we continue to gather many diverse stories told by the region’s talents, and provide a platform that allows our audiences to both enjoy the films and expand their perspectives on filmmaking. We are encouraged by the strong support from the film community and our partners who helped enable a successful 27th edition of the festival, and hope to continue growing the pride and interest in independent cinema in the years to come.”

Deputy Chairman of the Singapore Media Festival Advisory Board and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA)’s Assistant Chief Executive (Content & Innovation), Angeline Poh added, “This year’s SGIFF celebrated the best of Asian storytelling with its stellar line-up of excellent films from Singapore and the region. The SGIFF continues to be an integral part of the IMDA’s Singapore Media Festival. It enables our filmmakers to share their heartfelt stories with an international audience and inspires the next generation of storytellers.” 

Mr George Tanasijevich, President and Chief Executive Officer of Marina Bay Sands, said, “The response to this year’s festival further reinforces its importance in Singapore’s cultural calendar and its growing international profile. SGIFF is more than the art of moving image and red carpet events. Through meaningful discussions held at ArtScience Museum with celebrated film talent, we gave a voice to the craft and imbued the audience with knowledge to pursue further interests in film. Marina Bay Sands continues to champion this cause as we endeavour to enrich, educate and entertain the art audience. We are proud to play our part in supporting SGIFF to achieve yet another milestone in their ongoing narrative.” 

“The festival has once again impressed with its commitment to honour the hard work of filmmakers, with the wide diversity of films presented, and most importantly, the dedication of the team behind the festival, which deserves full laudation. This year, IWC has not only renewed our partnership with SGIFF, we have also upped the ante with our inaugural “For the Love of Cinema” benefit dinner, in which we also presented our first IWC Filmmaker Award to Vietnamese-born French filmmaker Trần Anh Hùng. These milestones are not only monumental for the brand’s accomplishments in the Southeast Asia region, it also underlines IWC’s burgeoning commitment and passion for the fascinating world of filmmaking. It has been a great start, and we look forward to further developing our meaningful partnership with the SGIFF,” said Managing Director of IWC South East Asia, Matthieu Dupont.

The SGIFF celebrated the closing of the Festival by screening White Sun, the Best Asian Feature Film at this year’s Silver Screen Awards, as well as the winning film of the Audience Choice Award, Absent Without Leave. The winners of this year’s Best Southeast Asian Short Film – In the Year of Monkey – and Best Singapore Short Film – Anchorage Prohibited – will also be rescreened alongside the Best Asian Feature Film and Audience Choice Award film respectively.

The SGIFF is an event of the Singapore Media Festival, hosted by Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA). SGIFF’s Official Sponsors include Presenting Sponsor, Marina Bay Sands, Official Festival Time Partner, IWC Schaffhausen, and Official Airline, Singapore Airlines.

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Please refer to the appended annexes for more information.

For Media Enquiries, please contact: press.office@sgiff.com

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About the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF)

Founded in 1987, the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) is the largest and longest-running film event in Singapore. It has become an iconic event in the local arts calendar that is widely attended by international film critics; and known for its dynamic programming and focus on ground-breaking Asian cinema for Singapore and the region. Committed to nurturing and championing local and regional talent, its competition component, the Silver Screen Awards, brings together emerging filmmakers from Asia and Southeast Asia while paying tribute to acclaimed cinema legends. With its mentorship programmes, masterclasses and dialogues with attending filmmakers, the Festival also serves as a catalyst for igniting public interest, artistic dialogue, and cultural exchanges in the art of filmmaking. The SGIFF is organised by the Singapore International Film Festival Ltd, a non-profit organisation with Institution of a Public Character (IPC) status. For more information, please visit https://www.facebook.com/sginternationalfilmfestival/

About the Media Festival

Founded in 1987, the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) is the largest and longest-running film event in Singapore. It has become an iconic event in the local arts calendar that is widely attended by international film critics; and known for its dynamic programming and focus on ground-breaking Asian cinema for Singapore and the region. Committed to nurturing and championing local and regional talent, its competition component, the Silver Screen Awards, brings together emerging filmmakers from Asia and Southeast Asia while paying tribute to acclaimed cinema legends. With its mentorship programmes, masterclasses and dialogues with attending filmmakers, the Festival also serves as a catalyst for igniting public interest, artistic dialogue, and cultural exchanges in the art of filmmaking. The SGIFF is organised by the Singapore International Film Festival Ltd, a non-profit organisation with Institution of a Public Character (IPC) status. For more information, please visit https://www.facebook.com/sginternationalfilmfestival/

Annex A: Quotes from local and international film personalities on the 27th SGIFF

Fruit Chan

Honorary Award recipient

“The Singapore International Film Festival, just like all film festivals in modern cities, is important in creating cultural and artistic exchanges. Although we speak different languages, we can still connect through films on the silver screen. That is necessary and more powerful than anything else.” 

Patrick Huang

Producer, The Road to Mandalay

“Even though we only stayed for 48 hours in Singapore for the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF), we felt the vibrancy of Southeast Asian cinema talents once again. This is alike the feeling we had when we first went to Busan close to 20 years ago. We felt this way every time we are in Southeast Asia. SGIFF is really very well-done and it has become a very important hub for Southeast Asian filmmaking.”

Tran Anh Hung

Vietnamese-born French filmmaker and IWC Filmmaker Award recipient

“My time in the Singapore International Film Festival is quite special for me. After the screening of Eternity, the questions that were asked were really good. The audience pushed me into give a very interesting answers. Sometimes when the questions are not interesting, I have not much to say. But I can say that I gave a lot to the audience with their questions. I feel really happy. 

I like the atmosphere of the SGIFF very much – it is interesting to see a film festival in a very modern city. Venice and Cannes are old cities but in Singapore, there are many modern buildings and it is an interesting experience. I really enjoy being here. 

In Asia, we need to achieve the language of cinema – it’s not enough to just tell the stories of our countries, but we need to create new forms of cinema – this is the most important thing. 

We are trapped by the bigger international festivals in the international scene, where they want to know more about the political socio problems of our countries, but they do not really pay attention to the form and language of cinema. This is something that we need to fight for so that movies will not only go to the festivals only because of a social problem, but a style and form of cinema that is great. Not just about news of the country.”

Lee Sang-woo

Director of Walking Street

“I was here last year because my film was screened as part of the competition. This year

I came back again. I’ve always wanted to come back to the Singapore International Film Festival. It’s amazing – the people and the food. To me, the Singapore International Film Festival is more than the Cannes Film Festival, so I want to come back with a new film next year.”

Midi Z

Director of The Road to Mandalay 赵德胤,再见瓦城导演

“第一次參加新加坡国际电影节,相较过去曾參加过其他电影节,这里精致、温馨、观众热情,也遇见许多特別是东南亚的电影同好和电影人。我们《再见瓦城》在这里放映满座,受到许多观众喜爱及媒体关注,非常惊讶、也非常感动,希望以后有机会还能再來參加。”

“This is my first time participating in the Singapore International Film Festival. As compared to the other film festivals which I had been part of, the Singapore International Film Festival is cozy and intimate; the audiences are warm. I’ve also met many likeminded Southeast Asian filmmakers. The Road to Mandalay was screened to a full theatre, and received lots of attention and love from the audiences and media. We were very surprised and touched by this. We hope to have more opportunities to attend the Singapore International Film Festival next time.”

Wu Ke-Xi

Cast of The Road to Mandalay 吴可熙,再见瓦城演员

“感谢「新加坡国际电影节」的邀请,我深感荣幸。电影首映后,我收到许多新加坡电影人以及观众们的诚挚祝贺:「你真的变成了另外一個人!」是身为演员的我所收到的莫大鼓励!很开心大家能感受到我们的辛勤付出与喜欢《再見瓦城》,期待能尽快快再与新加坡热情的观众朋友们见面,谢谢与祝福!”

“Thank you for the invitation by the Singapore International Film Festival. I am really honoured. After the premiere of The Road to Mandalay, I received many well-wishes from the filmmakers and the audience. They told me that I have really transformed into another person, and this is the biggest encouragement that can be given to me as an actress. I am very happy that everyone appreciates our effort and likes The Road to Mandalay. I hope to come back to Singapore soon to meet everybody. Thank you.”

Kai Ko

Cast of The Road to Mandalay 柯震东,再见瓦城演员

“很久沒來新加坡了,这次很开心因为《再见瓦城》又來了。再次看到热情的粉丝很感动~还有新加坡国际电影节很周到的招待,希望很快可以再來参加!”

“It has been some time since I’ve been to Singapore. I am really happy to be here again for The Road to Mandalay, and am touched to see the warm reception from the fans and the thoughtful hospitality by the Singapore International Film Festival. I hope to be here again soon.”

Sam Loh

Singapore filmmaker

“SGIFF feels like an old friend to me. We share our love and passion for films. And it’s important that we have our very own film festival to call our own, and showcase our local works to the world. We’ll grow and mature together and continue to have this friendship for years to come. One of the highlights this year has to be the premiere of two of my films Siew Lup and 4 Love at the festival. It was also heartening to see a good mix of new and old audiences at the premiere of my films. Another highlight would be the Directors’ masterclasses. It’s great to hear that my methods and thought processes in making films are validated and in sync with these masters in their craft. Looking forward to more good stuff next year.”

Tay Ping Hui

Singapore Actor

“It’s always good to be here because I think it’s a celebration of the talents that we have. Every time I come here, I get excited because it’s kind of a reboot – I’m re-motivated to work harder because I look at the directors and actors and I just got motivated to work harder, so it’s good.”

Sunny Pang

Singapore Actor and SGIFF Jury Member

“I think the Singapore International Film Festival has really grown fantastically large and I hope to see much more vibrancy for years to come. I think that the festival is important for Southeast Asia because it will pull everybody together regardless of different backgrounds of filmmaking, and filmmakers can get around to work together. The festival is a bridge across different countries and it can be very happening for all of us.”

Oon Shu An

Singapore Actress

“I was really excited that 4 LOVE is part of the SGIFF because I think it’s probably not the kind of film you normally see. I think there was a really nice range of films and I’m really excited for the way the industry is growing.”

Jocelyne Saab

Lebanese filmmaker and SGIFF Jury Member

“Well I think it was quite an interesting jury session. There were different subjects that we approach and each jury is different. This time we have people from different parts of Asia, and it seems that the festival has reunified the continent of Asia, which is something very interesting.”

 Liao Jiekai

Singapore filmmaker

“I think that it is a really wonderful edition of the festival with many exciting films. I think that the SGIFF has always been very supportive of the Southeast Asian filmmakers and also the audience and I think this is the spirit that we should keep up.”

Bertrand Lee

Singapore filmmaker and SGIFF Jury Member

“I think the Singapore International Film Festival is important for the local industry, especially the students and the young filmmakers to inspire them. And this year, the programme has been quite fantastic and there has been a lot of excitement about the films – the feature film and even the short films. And hopefully it will continue to grow and grow.”

Annex B: List of Sold Out Screenings at the 27th SGIFF

  1. 4 Love*
  2. AN
  3. A Yellow Bird*
  4. Bitcoin Heist
  5. For Nizam, A Retrospective Programme 1*
  6. I, Daniel Blake
  7. Ma’ Rosa
  8. Notes on Blindness
  9. Siew Lup*
  10. The Woman Who Left
  11. Wet Woman in the Wind

*Local films