Nature-Inspired Portraits Exhibition By 9 Singapore Creatives And Free Outdoor Film Screenings At 30th Anniversary Of Singapore International Film Festival

  • 9 local film and media personalities showcase their self-portraits and creative journey from 25 October to 1 December 2019
  • Moonlight Cinema, a free public outdoor cinema series by the Festival, returns from 25 to 27 October 2019 with stories of youths and their indomitable spirit

Singapore, 16 September 2019 – Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) has gathered 9 local film and media personalities to share their self-portraits inspired by nature, as it celebrates 30 editions of championing local storytellers and their creative narratives. Alongside this mixed media exhibition at Gardens by the Bay, the Festival will also host its sophomore edition of Moonlight Cinema over three days in October, where the audience can enjoy free outdoor movie screenings that spotlight the youths and their fearless dreams. Held in partnership with Gardens by the Bay Youths Celebrate!, these on-screen and off-screen programmes continue the Festival’s mandate as a discovery ground for stories of Singapore, the region, and beyond.

Pushing creative boundaries with ​Nature’s Playground  

(Artworks by Yeo Siew Hua (left), John Clang (top right) and Yeo Yann Yann (bottom right))

Titled Nature’s Playground and held from 25 October to 1 December 2019 at the Colonnade (Supertree Grove) in Gardens by the Bay, the exhibition invites visitors to follow 9 local storytellers, including media personalities Yeo Yann Yann and Danny Yeo, alongside filmmakers Yeo Siew Hua and Kirsten Tan, on their creative journeys inspired by the natural environment around Singapore.

In sharing their self-portraits amidst nature around us, the storytellers will collectively explore what it means to be an artist who tells personal stories centred in the region. [Refer to Annex A on the list of 9 local storytellers.]

SGIFF Executive Director Yuni Hadi said, “Singapore International Film Festival has been a platform to experience the world and personal stories through the cinema. As the Festival grows, we continue to embrace and support the myriad of mediums our storytellers use to express their ideas, including innovative, multi-disciplinary, mixed media presentations. As part of our 30th anniversary, we are celebrating our Singapore talents and their journey of expression. In ​Nature’s Playground​, we are invited into their creative journeys and share in their experiment of narrative expression that nature has sparked in them. We would like to thank these local personalities, who have been making waves in their creative storytelling through film, theatre, music, visual art and literary, for their support towards the Festival and our initiatives.”

Embrace the energy from youth at ​Moonlight Cinema 

A hit among festival-goers last year, the ​Moonlight Cinema series will return to the Supertree Grove Lawn at Gardens by the Bay from 25 to 27 October with three films featuring youths and dreams-chasing journeys. Friends and families can cosy up under the stars and enjoy the screenings over an array of food options available. This is also in conjunction with Gardens by the Bay Youths Celebrate!

(from left to right) Empire Records, The Chorus and Secret Superstar

Film-lovers can look forward to American comedy-drama, ​Empire Records​, ​which follows a tight-knit group of young employees (starring Hollywood stars such as Liv Tyler and Renée Zellweger) who worked together to save their independent record store from being sold to a large chain, and critically-acclaimed French film, ​The Chorus​, ​that explores the journey of a music teacher who discovers the musical promise of an aimless child in a boarding school. On the third night, award-winning Indian musical drama ​Secret Superstar ​will also be screened, featuring a teenage girl who lives amid domestic abuse and becomes a YouTube sensation after a video in which she hides her identity goes viral. [Refer to Annex B for the full film synopsis​.​]

Yuni added, “Cinema provides a window into the world we live in. Through the Moonlight Cinema series this year, we aim to inspire film-lovers and a wider audience with the universal themes of youths and their infectious never-give-up spirit. This is similarly a reflection of the grit and tenacity of our filmmakers in pursuing their dreams of telling our region’s tales. We hope more people will be encouraged to support independent cinema from Asia and the world that are closely relatable to our everyday lives.” 

The 30th SGIFF will run from 21 November to 1 December 2019. Its call for entries for Feature and Short Films, Southeast Asian Film Lab, and Youth Jury & Critics Programme is now open and will continue till 19 August 2019. 

SGIFF is an event of the Singapore Media Festival (SMF), hosted by Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA). SGIFF 2019’s Official Sponsors include Official Red Carpet Venue Capitol Theatre; Official Automobile BMW; and Official Hotel Shangri-La Hotel Singapore.

For more information, please visit ​www.sgiff.com​.

Discover the magic of cinema and for latest updates, follow us on Instagram @SGIFFest and on Facebook @sginternationalfilmfestival

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

Resources

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/

About SGIFF Film Academy (SFA)

The SGIFF Film Academy (SFA) is the region’s first holistic training initiative to support Southeast Asian film talents and nurture film appreciation among the audience. A launch pad for mentorship, exchange of ideas and strengthening film literacy, the developmental programmes - Southeast Asian Producers Network, Southeast Asian Film Lab, Youth Jury & Critics Programme, SGIFF Film Fund, and Film Immersion Programme for Schools - aim to enhance the capabilities of the regional film scene collectively.

Annex A: About Nature’s Playground

 (Artworks by Yeo Siew Hua (left), John Clang (top right) and Yeo Yann Yann (bottom right))

25 October – 1 December 2019 | Colonnade (Supertree Grove) @ Gardens by the Bay | Free 

In celebration of creative journeys, this photography exhibition is an introspective examination of how nature inspires us. We invite nine individuals from Singapore’s film and media industry to create self-portraits with nature as their muse. These portraits will be exhibited at the Colonnade (Supertree Grove) in Gardens by the Bay from 25 October – 1 December 2019. The 30th SGIFF explores breaking creative boundaries with filmmakers Kirsten Tan and Yeo Siew Hua, writer Alfian Sa’at, host Danny Yeo, actresses Yeo Yann Yann, Oon Shu Ann and Fiona Xie; photographer John Clang, and Musician Joanna Dong.

Artist Statements

Alfian Sa’at

Beringin: The YearningTree

I have been fascinated by the banyan tree, which in Malay is known as the ‘beringin’. ‘Beringin’ itself has the root word ‘ingin’, which means desire or yearning. For each photo, I would like to translate a traditional Malay poem called a pantun, which references the ‘beringin’.

Bio

Alfian Sa’at is a Resident Playwright with W!LD RICE. His published works include three collections of poetry, ‘One Fierce Hour​’, ‘A History of Amnesia​’ and ‘The Invisible Manuscript​’, a collection of short stories, ‘​Corridor​’, a collection of flash fiction, ‘​Malay Sketches​’, two collections of plays as well as the published play ‘​Cooling Off Day​’.

Chris Yeo

Natural

Traversing through a garden path pedestrianly, sniffing flowers and marvelling at the great diversity of a KEW showroom, I wonder how to situate myself within a garden?

Fenced out of the grass, I get a sense that I am not involved in the natural processes of its growth and cultivation. Is that because I’m not really part of nature and that my interventions are to be seen as unnatural? The series of photos is an attempt to contextualize myself within the mereology of nature, to investigate if I fit in as a natural object and whether to consider the environments as parts of the self in self-portraits. The results are admittedly quite contrived and revealing my artificiality!

After all, I do not witness the unkempt overgrowth or the wilt and dying. All I ever witness is the manicured lush evergreen as I traverse the city pedestrianly, sniffing flowers and marvelling at the great diversity of a KEW showroom. I wonder how to situate myself within a garden city?

Bio

Yeo Siew Hua won the Golden Leopard grand prize at the Locarno Film Festival with his film, ​A LAND IMAGINED (2018). The film also won top awards at many festivals, including the Singapore International Film Festival. He is a member of the Asia Pacific Screen Academy and also a founding member of the Singapore film collective 13 Little Pictures, which produced his debut fiction film ​IN THE HOUSE OF STRAW (2009), and the music documentary THE OBS: A SINGAPORE STORY (2014).

Danny Yeo

Back to Basics 本行 . 五行

Nature provides solace, escape and inspiration for me.

Whenever I feel exhausted or drained, I’d head out for a diving trip or a place where the horizons are much wider and further. I’ve always believed that the physical space you occupy affects your emotional being and mental state. It’ll be a dream to live on an island where the sea is steps away from my door-front and the mountains are right behind my small abode.

It was easy to relate what I do in my creative work to nature. Simply go back to the baseline. And I referred to the five elements: metal, wood, water, fire, earth.

Another reason is because I often philosophise, think and write in Chinese. Noticed the different pronunciation of the word 行 in the artwork’s title? Here lies the beauty of language and culture.

Bio 

A multi-hyphenate with more than 25 years of rich experience in various fields, Danny Yeo is a well-established cross-media personality passionately involved in various areas: hosting, directing, writing, and photography.

He has also written for 5 Singapore films, authored 4 books, published columns in newspapers, contributed photos to magazines, directed/scripted/performed for more than 40 adult contemporary plays and children’s musical productions.

Danny Yeo started attending SIFF during his secondary school days, a catalyst for his love in films. He has been serving SGIFF as the host for its press conferences and opening ceremonies since 2009.

Joanna Dong

Canopy Gap

Together with my close friends Jovian Lim (photographer), and Rafiq Mohamad (graphic designer) we were led by nature around Macritchie Reservoir with no preconceived notion of how the artwork will finally look like. What marvels me most about Nature, is the phenomenon of Symbiosis. As with symbiosis in Nature, I believe it is hard to define the concept of “self ” in isolation – who I am as a person and as a performer is heavily reliant on the company I keep. Many people assume that anyone who has experienced great success arrived there through the individual’s intention and ability. My own creative journey however, is a meandering one, and always relies on the talents of many other people. I didn’t set out with purpose to be where I am today. Much like a forest, I simply grew, in whatever direction there was space and favourable conditions to grow.

Bio

Joanna Dong is a Singaporean jazz vocalist, musical theatre actress and TV host. Over the years, the versatile singer has established herself as one of the most talented and sought-after jazz vocalists in Singapore, with a repertoire that spans a wide range of audiences. Joanna became the pride of Singapore after a stellar performance at ​Sing! China​, coming in 2nd runner up under Jay Chou’s team in the popular Chinese singing competition.

Kirsten Tan

Self-Portraits in Nature

Within the formal composition of a portrait, why is representation of the self automatically foregrounded, whereas surroundings are naturally relegated to background? Can foreground and background be interchangeable? In the following series of ‘self-portraits’, the self is simply a part of the surroundings. Neither is given precedence over the other, no visual hierarchy is suggested. Nothing is immediately demanded of the viewer. Thus freed from rules of seeing, the eye is free to roam over banal pockets of unruly nature in a nondescript city, or seek out the lone human striking a silent pose in its midst. 

Bio

Kirsten Tan’s works are marked by their humanity, off-beat humor and bold visual-storytelling. Her debut feature POP AYE made its world premiere as the Opening Night Film of Sundance Film Festival 2017. The film received multiple international awards and was invited to represent Singapore in the Foreign Film Category at the Oscars. Over the years, she has premiered several short films at SGIFF, picking up Best Southeast-Asian Film for DAHDI​ ​, Best Director for FONZI​ ​, and Special Jury Prize for 10 MINUTES LATER​. Kirsten was accorded the Young Artist Award by the National Arts Council in 2015 and was nominated as a Singaporean of the Year by the Straits Times in 2017.

Oon Shu An

Nebulous Rest

Every living thing has a relationship with death. And the idea of death inspires my work. As an actor, there is the sense of letting aspects of yourself die and living in another character.

I decided to partner with Architecture photographer Darren Soh, to capture buildings before their slated demolition; before they die. They are such a large part of Singapore’s landscape, and are featured so heavily in our iconic films. 

As Asia rapidly develops, its films that captures the minutiae of life against its ever changing backdrop, and its platforms like SGIFF that showcases these stories.

Bio

Oon Shu An is an actress and host based in Singapore. A graduate of the acting course at LASALLE College of the Arts, Shu An is a theatre, film and television actor. Notably, Oon’s best known roles were the ill-fated Song Dynasty courtesan Jing Fei in the Netflix cult favourite Marco Polo, and the troubled ex-con on her path to redemption Frances Lee, in HOOQ’s How to be a Good Girl; the role she was nominated for at the Inaugural Asian Academy Creative Awards 2018.

John Clang

My Nature is Constructed by You and Me

The artificially formed nature leaves many traces of human being, enabling me to observe intently and fueling me with inspirations towards my art. I use my eyes to study the nature. I refuse to be a smartphone zombie. What is nature? Growing up in Singapore and now residing in New York, my nature consists of the ever-changing constructed realities, where dreams are built and human presence are closely felt. Its chaos and unstableness overcome any loneliness within me.Urban people tend to be overwhelmed by the flux. I dedicate my life to creating works which are reflective of my nature and in order to achieve that, I have learnt to blend in, slow down and be invisible. 

Bio

The practice of visual artist John Clang straddles dual realities of global cities, unfettered by confines of time and geography. Clang’s first exhibition was a duo-show at the controversial (and now defunct) Singapore art group 5th Passage Artists. In 2010, he became the first photographer to garner the Designer of the Year award at the President’s Design Award. In 2017, his debut feature, Their Remaining Journey, has its world premiere at the 2018 International Film Festival Rotterdam. The film was also selected as the Opening Film for Painting with Light: Festival of International Films on Art at National Gallery Singapore.

Yeo Yann Yann

Missing

The inspiration behind my artwork is the sea. The sea has no shape, there is no way i can decide what the artwork will look like on the day of the shoot. There is always an element of improvisation and an element of the present moment when we meet the sea. So I just go to the sea and let the sea present itself and i be present to accept it.

Similar to my creative journey, the sea can be as soft as silk, can be as crazy as tsunami. When you think it’s quiet, the undercurrent could swallow you up.

Bio

Yeo Yann Yann is a versatile and talented actor and theatre performer who has built a successful career across the mediums of film, television and theatre. A familiar name in Singapore and Malaysia, Yann Yann was internationally recognized for her striking performance in Cannes Camera d’Or winning ​ILO ILO​, directed by Anthony Chen that won her the Golden Horse Award for Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actress at the Asia Pacific Film Festival, and Best Actress Awards in India, Russia and Dubai.

Annex B: About Moonlight Cinema

The inaugural Moonlight Cinema kicked off to an exceptional reception last year! Running from 25 – 27 October 2019, Moonlight Cinema returns with three films that promise to delight: American comedy-drama ​Empire Records (1995), French drama film ​The Chorus (2004), and award-winning Indian musical drama ​Secret Superstar (2017). Join us for a night-out under the stars with these stories of dreams-chasing journeys and musical treats in anticipation of the 30th SGIFF end-November.

Empire Records

​(Dir. Allan Moyle / USA / 1995 / 90 minutes)

25 October 2019, 9pm | Supertree Grove Lawn @ Gardens by the Bay | Free

Joe (Anthony LaPaglia) runs Empire Records, an independent Delaware store that employs a tight-knit group of music-savvy youths. Hearing that the shop may be sold to a big chain, slacker employee Lucas (Rory Cochrane) bets a chunk of the store’s money at the local casino, hoping to get a big return. When this plan fails, Empire Records falls into serious trouble, and the various other clerks, including lovely Corey (Liv Tyler) and gloomy Deb (Robin Tunney), must deal with the problem, among many other issues.

The Chorus​

(Dir. ​Christophe Barratier​ / France / Germany / Switzerland / 2004 / 96 minutes)

26 October 2019, 9pm | Supertree Grove Lawn @ Gardens by the Bay | Free

Pierre is an aimless child at an austere boarding school in France. The students and faculty are constantly at odds with one another, until a music teacher, Clément Mathieu, arrives and starts a choir. Clément – who has troubles of his own – tries to change the reactionary policies of the school, choosing instead to encourage his students. His efforts have a particular impact on Pierre, who shows great musical promise. ​The Chorus outsold even ​Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban ​at the French box office. It’s the little French film that could.

Secret Superstar

(Dir. Advait Chandan / India / 2017 / 150 minutes)

27 October 2019, 9pm | Supertree Grove Lawn @ Gardens by the Bay | Free

The story of Secret Superstar is set in the town of Vadodara (Baroda) in Gujarat, India. Insia Malik (Zaira Wasim), a 15-year-old Indian Muslim girl, lives with her mother Najma (Meher Vij), younger brother Guddu, and an overbearing father Farookh (Raj Arjun). To fulfil her musical dream, Insia, a talented teenage singer-songwriter, must conceal her passion from her father who is against her dream of becoming a singer. But to save her mother, she might just have to sacrifice everything.