Singapore International Film Festival Celebrates Its 30th Anniversary With A Tasteful Line-Up Of Strong Narratives And Film Personalities

  • SGIFF presents three Special Presentation films that are anchored by strong female characters – Downton Abbey by Michael Engler, Nina Wu by Midi-Z, and The Truth by Hirokazu Kore-eda that closes this milestone 30th anniversary edition 
  • SGIFF confers the Honorary Award to Japanese filmmaker, Takashi Miike and the Cinema Icon Award to Chinese actress, Yao Chen

Singapore, 22 October 2019 – The 30th Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) announced its full Festival line-up at the Shangri-La Hotel today, staying true to its roots as a discovery ground of the spirited stories in Southeast Asia, an enabler to the regional filmmaking scene and talents, and a tastemaker of global developments in cinema.

A leading international film festival in the region and part of the Singapore Media Festival (SMF), SGIFF will present a dynamic array of over 90 films by auteurs from 40 countries that take the pulse of Asian and international cinema. 

SGIFF’s Programme Director, Kuo Ming-Jung said, “In the past year, captivating stories told by brilliant filmmakers have unfolded in varying styles and genres across the global cinematic landscape. As with our line-up each year, we hope to bring distinctive films from around the world to the audience, while staying committed to the strong belief in giving a voice to our own stories that reveal the texture of life in Singapore and the region.”

A conduit to appreciating stories around us

17 Singapore films have been selected for screening at the Festival, with four shorts nominated for the Silver Screen Awards’ Southeast Asian Short Film competition, including ADAM (2019) by Shoki Lin as well as Jerrold Chong and Huang Junxiang’s Piece of Meat (2019), which premiered at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. The Singapore Panorama section will feature five features and five shorts, including the Southeast Asian premiere of the first two episodes of Invisible Stories (2019) by Ler Jiyuan for HBO Asia on the untold stories from the heartlands in Singapore, and the world premiere of Unteachable (2019) by Yong Shu Ling who spotlights the country’s results-oriented education system. 

In addition, the Festival will present Special Programme: Contemporary Vietnamese Shorts that reveal Vietnam’s diverse talents and growing role in shaping the Asian film landscape under the Asian Vision section. This includes short/cut (2019) by filmmaker Ostin Fam, a recipient of the SGIFF Southeast Asian-Short Film Grant (SEA-SHORTS) under the inaugural SGIFF Film Fund, and Blessed Land (2019) by Pham Ngoc Lan, an alumnus of the Festival’s Southeast Asian Film Lab. 

Other strong narratives include 56th Golden Horse Awards contender A Sun (2019) by Taiwanese director Chung Mong-Hong, and Coming Home Again (2019) by Hong Kong-born American director Wayne Wang; country-nominated films for the 2020 Oscars such as Columbian co-production, Monos (2019) by Alejandro Landes, debut feature of French filmmaker, Ladj Ly’s Les Misérables (2019), and And Then We Danced (2019) by Levan Akin. 

Memories of Murder by Bong Joon-Ho and Flowers of Shanghai by Hou Hsiao-Hsien 

Film lovers can also revisit two modern gems by Asian masters and delight in the legacy of cinema with our Classics section. This include Memories of Murder (2003) by Palme d’Or winning director Bong Joon-Ho, which traces his masterful blend of genre and social observations; and the newly-restored Flowers of Shanghai (1998) by Asian legend Hou Hsiao-Hsien that rightfully demands its place on the big screen with its delicate storyline and breathtaking cinematography with scenes lit only by period oil lamps. 

Experiencing the magic of cinema with SGIFF’s Special Presentations 

(L-R) Downton Abbey by Michael Engler, Nina Wu by Midi Z and The Truth by Hirokazu Kore-eda

In addition to Wet Season (2019) by Anthony Chen as the opening film, the Special Presentations section includes Downton Abbey (2019) directed by American filmmaker Michael Engler with screenplay by Julian Fellowes. Starring Michelle Dockery, Maggie Smith and Joanne Froggatt, the film will see the Crawley family from the beloved series hit the big screen to prepare for the most important moment of their lives. Myanmar-born, Taiwanese filmmaker Midi Z returns to the SGIFF since The Road to Mandalay (2016) with his latest acclaimed psychological thriller, Nina Wu (2019). The film with eight nominations at the 56th Golden Horse Awards stars Taiwanese actresses, Wu Ke-xi, Hsia Yu-chiao, and Sung Yu-hua, and is a timely exploration of the dangerous games played in a competitive field of filmmaking. Joanne Froggatt from Downton Abbey as well as Nina Wu’s Director, Midi Z, and actresses Wu Ke-xi and Hsia Yu-chiao will be gracing the red carpet during the film premieres on 22 November and 24 November respectively at the Capitol Theatre.

To commemorate the Festival’s landmark edition, it will also close with a 30th Anniversary Special Presentation screening of The Truth by Palme d’Or Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda on 1 December. Kore-eda’s first film out of Japan, this latest feature presents a unique taste of France as it tells the story of prima donna actress Fabienne (played by Catherine Deneuve) whose newly published memoirs are challenged by her daughter, Lumir (played by Juliette Binoche).

Tracing the careers and recognising our film talents

(L-R) Takashi Miike (Honorary Award Recipient), Yao Chen (Cinema Icon Award Recipient) & Yeo Yann Yann (Recipient of the Inspiring Woman in Film Award, Presented by Swarovski)

The SGIFF will present this year’s Honorary Award to acclaimed Japanese filmmaker, Takashi Miike, who is known for his innovative, uncompromising and genre-bending aesthetics. With over 100 films (and counting) under his belt, including notable works such as Ichi the Killer (2001), 13 Assassins (2010), and Yakuza Apocalypse (2015), he will also present his latest drama feature, First Love, at the SGIFF after its screening at Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight. 

Refreshed for the 30th SGIFF, the Cinema Icon Award will be conferred to distinguished Chinese actress, Yao Chen, for her outstanding achievements in bringing Asia’s story to life on screen. Also a recipient of the Best Actress Award at the Asia Contents Awards by the Busan International Film Festival, Yao will present Send Me to the Clouds (2019), the first film which she stars in and is a producer of, at the SGIFF under the new Filmmakers Present section. This is alongside early shorts of Hong Kong filmmaker, Pang Ho-Cheung, and Star Trek (2009) as Academy Award winner for special effects make up, Barney Burman, brings the audience into the ingenuity of prosthetic effects. 

The SGIFF will also confer the third ‘Inspiring Woman in Film Award’, Presented by Swarovski to actress Yeo Yann Yann. A versatile artist, Yann Yann has built a successful career across the mediums of film, television and theatre. For her performance in Cannes Camera d’Or winning Ilo Ilo (2013) by Anthony Chen, she was awarded a Golden Horse Award for Best Supporting Actress at the Asia Pacific Film Festival, and Best Actress Awards in India, Russia and Dubai. Yann Yann has also been nominated for Best Leading Actress at the 56th Golden Horse Awards for her role in Wet Season (2019). Swarovski’s partnership with SGIFF to create the award is part of its longstanding commitment to supporting emerging talent and championing women’s empowerment. 

Executive Director of the SGIFF, Yuni Hadi, said, “This landmark edition is dedicated to our community of filmmakers and audiences, be they new or have grown with us over the years. We remain true to our mission to champion the spirit of independent cinema through our film screenings and nurture the next generation of storytellers through the SGIFF Film Academy. In particular, we are appreciative of the many filmmaking talents who have come on board to share their expertise and exchange perspectives with our local community, including Anurag Kashyap and Dito Montiel who head the jury for Asian Feature Film Competition and Southeast Asian Short Film Competition respectively. Their participation and the resulting conversations enable us to continue uncovering the different facets of storytelling and celebrate the diversity of voices through cinema. We look forward to sharing more cinematic moments with everyone as the Festival grows from strength to strength.”

The 30th SGIFF, which runs from 21 November to 1 December 2019, will be hosted across multiple Festival venues, including Capitol Theatre, National Museum of Singapore, National Gallery Singapore, Oldham Theatre, The Projector, Filmgarde Bugis+, Golden Village Grand and Objectifs Centre for Photography & Filmmaking. 

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

For more information, please visit www.sgiff.com. The full Festival guide can also be downloaded here

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: Quotes from Official Sponsors

Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA)

Mr Howie Lau, Chief Industry Development Officer

“As SGIFF celebrates its 30th anniversary, IMDA is proud to partner SGIFF as part of the Singapore Media Festival for the sixth time, to celebrate local and regional films and talents and the art of storytelling. Singapore, being the heart of Asia where the East meets West, and tech meets media, is at the cross road of creation as we encourage “Made-with-Singapore” content and continue to grow together with our storytellers.”

BMW Group Asia

Mr. Christopher Wehner, Managing Director

“BMW recognises the value of art and culture, and is committed to continuously supporting art ventures around the world. Just as films engage audiences and impact their emotions, we aim to do the same with every person that gets behind the wheel of a BMW. These synergies make our ongoing partnership a perfect fit, and it’s our honour to support the film industry and be the Official Car for the Singapore International Film Festival for the third time running.”

Perennial Real Estate Holdings Limited

Ms Annie Lee, Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Singapore)

“Perennial Real Estate Holdings Limited is delighted to present Capitol Theatre as the Official Red Carpet Venue for the Singapore International Film Festival for the third year running. As the owner and manager of the iconic heritage theatre which is right in the heart of Singapore’s Civic District, we are passionate and committed to supporting local and regional cinematic talents. We are honoured to be part of one of the most esteemed events in the local art calendar and for our dynamic venue to be a platform where creative minds congregate to honour every deserving individual’s success. The collaboration also aligns with our vision of bringing quality arts and entertainment to the community.”

Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore

Mr Tane Picken, General Manager

“It is indeed an exciting time for Singapore International Film Festival as it celebrates its 30th year anniversary. The festival’s strong support for Asian filmmakers and culture really speaks to us as we are a hotel deeply rooted in Asian hospitality and values. Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore is excited and so proud to be one of the official sponsors and we look forward to an exciting line up of films in the festival this year.”

Singapore Airlines

Mr Campbell Wilson, Senior Vice President Sales and Marketing

“Singapore Airlines is committed to supporting the further development of the arts and culture in Singapore, and we’re honoured to be the Official Airline for the Singapore International Film Festival for the fifth consecutive year. We look forward to this year’s curated offerings, and are confident that they will continue to inspire and promote appreciation of a diverse range of local, regional and international films to audiences all over.” said Mr Campbell Wilson, Singapore Airlines Senior Vice President Sales and Marketing. 

Annex B: Ticketing Information

Tickets to the 30th​ Singapore International Film Festival go on sale from 23 October 12pm on www.SGIFF.com, www.sistic.com.sg, hotline at +65 6348 5555 and at all SISTIC outlets.

Film CategoriesTicket Prices excluding SISTIC fees (S$)
Opening Film$25.00
Special Presentation$15.00
All Other Films$12.00
Masterclasses, In Conversion & Talks$5.00

Ticket Bundles  

For purchases of more than 12 tickets in a single transaction, please head to SGIFF.com

Onscreen

4 for $40: 

Want to try something new? Purchase any four tickets from titles across:

  • Focus 
  • Films in Competition
  • Singapore Panorama
  • Short Film Programmes
  • Midnight Mayhem
  • Encore Screening

10-FOR-10%: 

Purchase any 10 tickets in a single transaction to enjoy a 10% discount off ticket prices.

Applicable to all film titles.

20-FOR-20%: 

Purchase any 20 tickets in a single transaction to enjoy a 20% discount off ticket prices. Applicable to all film titles.  

Discounts and Concessions:

Students (local / overseas), Senior Citizens, and NSF – S$1.00 discount for Opening Film and S$0.50 discount for all other films.

Offscreen

3-FOR-2​: 

Purchase any 3 offscreen tickets to enjoy 20% off ticket prices.

For exclusive discounts, please refer to www.sgiff.com/promotions

Booking Your Tickets

Book via www.sgiff.com SISTIC hotline 6348-5555

Tickets will be available online up until 1 hour before screening time.

Book in-person at 48 SISTIC Authorised Agents islandwide

Tickets will be available online up until 1 hour before screening time.

*Note: Most SISTIC Authorised Agents are open between 12pm to 8pm unless stated otherwise.

Door Sales

Limited tickets are available for sale at the respective screening venue 1 hour prior to screening time. 

These tickets will be sold at the standard price and only in cash.  No concession / discount for door sales.

Annex C: About the Inspiring Woman in Film Award, presented by Swarovski

Swarovski’s partnership with SGIFF to create the ​Inspiring Woman in Film Award is​ part of its longstanding commitment to supporting emerging talent and championing women’s empowerment. With this award, SGIFF and Swarovski are not only promoting women’s stories in film, they are also shining a light on incredible female role models in the industry and helping to inspire the next generation.

For nearly a century, Swarovski has worked hand in hand with costume and set designers to bring the silver screen to sparkling life. The company’s precision-cut crystals made their Hollywood debut in the Marlene Dietrich classic ​Blonde Venus in 1932, and iconic movie moments include Marilyn Monroe singing ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ in dazzling Swarovski jewels in ​Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) and Audrey Hepburn in a chic Swarovski tiara in ​Breakfast at Tiffany’s​ (1961).

More recently, Swarovski crystals have brought light, glamour and magic to a host of successful films, including ​The Great Gatsby (2013), Kung Fu Yoga (2017), ​Disney’s Cinderella (2015) and Beauty and the Beast (2017), ​The Greatest Showman (2017), ​Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) and Rocketman ​(2019).

Annex D: Highlights of 30th​ ​ Singapore International Film Festival

Opening Film

Wet Season (2019) 

By Anthony Chen 

Anthony Chen returns with a stunning coming-of-(middle)-age drama, where the desires of a woman parallel that of an adolescent in an intimate yet precarious setting.

Special Presentation

Downton Abbey (2019)

By Michael Engler

After a five-series television run and four-year hiatus, the Crawleys are finally back for one last hurrah! Picking up right where they left off, the film follows the adventures of the Crawleys upstairs and their staff downstairs onto the silver screen.

With an elusive note from Buckingham Palace comes a grand visit from the King and Queen of England themselves. Everyone scrambles to get the Abbey fit for royalty. However, the royal visit proves to be an unwanted hubbub instead of a monarchical blessing. The Crawleys and their staff come face-to-face with the royal entourage. Excitement runs high and the stage is set for the Abbey’s grand return.

Nina Wu (2019)

By Midi Z

Playing the title role of a screenplay that she co-wrote, Wu Ke-Xi plays Nina Wu, a struggling young actress who is desperate for that career-defining breakout role. After eight years of toiling and playing bit-parts in small films, Nina is finally offered a meaty lead role in an espionage spy thriller that requires for her to perform in explicit sex scenes involving full frontal nudity.

Obsessed with fame and grasping the role with everything she has, Nina’s psychological resolve begins to crack as a result of the challenges brought on by the role, and the abuse and trauma she has to put up with on set and off. Her life begins to intertwine and threatens to engulf her.

*New

30th Anniversary Special Presentation

The Truth (2019)

By Hirokazu Kore-eda

Palme d’Or winner Kore-eda presents his first film shot outside of his native Japan. ​The Truth tells the story of prima donna actress Fabienne, whose newly published memoirs are challenged by her daughter Lumir.

Screenwriter Lumir visits her mother with her TV actor husband, Hank and their child. The reunion begins with a premediated confrontation as Lumir dives straight into questioning her mother about the honesty of her account. When Fabienne’s long-serving assistant resigns due to mistreatment by her, Lumir steps in to help with her mother’s current film project. While working together, they discover an actress on the film with an uncanny resemblance to a deceased actress: an ex-colleague of Fabienne who took care of Lumir when she was a child. As the ghost of the past looms larger between mother and daughter, Fabienne is forced to reassess her life and her relationships with those around her.

Silver Screen Awards:Asian Feature Film Competition

Verdict (2019)  

By Raymund Ribay Gutierrez

“Dante, a small-time petty crook comes home with alcohol-fuelled rage and viciously attacks his wife, Joy and their six-year-old daughter, Angel. To protect herself and Angel, Joy stabs Dante in the arm before fleeing to the nearest police station to file a complaint. At the station, she is humiliated and threatened by law enforcers, and soon realises that finding justice is an uphill battle.

Building on the audacious promise of his short films, Raymund Ribay Gutierrez crafts a gripping commentary on how pre-existing patriarchal structures continue to endanger women’s safety and well-being. Lensed with a captivating urgency and tense atmosphere, Verdict is a film that takes nothing for granted.”

Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains (2019)

By Gu Xiaogang

A story of four brothers, told across four seasons, with each facing crucial changes in their lives at the same time as their ageing mother battles with dementia. Their dilemmas, decisions and destinies parallel the drastic societal change that is happening in their city. This parallelism is shot with acute scrutiny that resembles ancient Chinese paintings.

Taking its title from a famous 14th century Chinese scroll painting, director Gu Xiaogang’s debut feature film depicts ordinary lives on a panoramic scale. Selected as the closing film for this year’s Cannes Critics’ Week, Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains interweaves the lives of multiple characters, each developed in detail with masterful direction reminiscent of Edward Yang.

Silver Screen Awards: Southeast Asian Short Film Competition

ADAM (2019) 

By Shoki Lin 

Tired of his turbulent family life and caught between identities, Adam seeks out an alternative arrangement in hopes of finding his place.

Piece of Meat (2019)  

By Huang Junxiang and Jerrold Chong 

Enslaved in a surreal world of living objects, a lamb cutlet does whatever it takes to make ends meet.

Stay Awake, Be Ready​ (2019)​  

By Pham Thien An

On a street corner, a mysterious conversation takes place among three men at a street stall. Meanwhile, a traffic accident occurs, and the night brings forth a multicolour frame of reality.Stay Awake, Be Ready ​also won the Illy Award at the Directors’ Fortnight, Cannes Film Festival. 

Singapore Panorama

Unteachable (2019)  

By Yong Shu-Ling

Ng Meixi returns to Singapore having spent time in Mexico working with low-performing students. She joins a local school as a relief teacher but takes on a mammoth task: to pilot a new pedagogy to help students in the Normal (Technical) stream learn better. She reconfigures the classroom from a teacher-directed one to a community that aims to empower students as learners and tutors to each other. Will this work in Singapore’s result-oriented education system?

Invisible Stories (2019)  

By Ler Jiyuan

Bringing to life stories of everyday people – their joy, their struggles, and their sacrifice, with each episode following one neighbour as he or she navigates through everyday life and its challenges.

Episode 1:

Lian is the story of a burnt out and financially-drained single mother struggling to cope with her 19-year-old son with autism, who displays aggressive behaviours during meltdowns following the sudden death of his grandmother, who was his main caregiver.

Episode 2:

Chuan is a taxi driver by day and “tangki” (spiritual medium) by night. He finds his sanity in peril when a malicious ghost begins to haunt him, pushing him down a path of self-destruction in search of the truth.”

*New

Special Programme: Contemporary Vietnamese Shorts under Asian Vision

A special short film programme reveals the diverse talents coming out of Vietnam today.

short/cut (2019)

By Ostin Fam

Mae believes that unlike what her long black locks suggests, beauty is found in short hair. In desperation, she defies all odds to attain her desired crown of beauty.

Blessed Land (2019)

By Phạm Ngọc Lân

In a long-forgotten cemetery, a woman and her son look for her late husband’s grave only to be lost in a myriad of gravestones and dreams of a future where luxury replaces memory.

Asian Vision

A Sun (2019)  

By Chung Mong-Hong

A Taiwanese middle-class nuclear family forms the central unit in A Sun. As the younger son lands himself in juvenile detention, the older son struggles with existence. Father-son relationships are explored in depth, and trouble is a constant in the film be it financial, gang-related or moral. Tensions on-screen are captured precisely, often vibrating off the screen as well.

Award-winning director and cinematographer Chung Mong-hong is meticulous in developing his characters, and the film offers audiences a gripping ride with each member of the family. Through strong leads, the audience forms a bond with the characters.

Coming Home Again (2019)  

By Wayne Wang

Coming Home Again details a son’s love for his mother, as Chang-rae returns home to nurse his mother who has stomach cancer. Resisting his mother’s insistence for independence, Chang-rae busies himself with as many nursing tasks as possible. This Korean-American drama moves seamlessly between the past and present as it deals with memories and identity.

Themes of love, guilt and family are centrally addressed through food, literally and emotionally, as Chang-rae attempts to master his mother’s recipes for their traditional New Year’s Eve feast. The film is based on an essay written by novelist Lee Chang-rae in 1995, mixed with the director’s personal experiences of Asian family dinners and taking care of his parents.

Cinema Today

Monos (2019)  

By Alejandro Landes

High in the mountains, eight teenage guerrillas form a cult-like paramilitary unit with a simple mission: babysit a prisoner and a cow. Their days are filled with puppy love, campfire dances and psychedelic trips on dung-grown shrooms—until a stray bullet puts an end to their adolescent antics, driving them down the mountain and right into the heart of darkness. As one critic calls it, Monos is “savage poetry”. Each frame teeters on the brink of violence, often erupting unpredictably. Its volatile cinematography vacillates between nature and netherworld, pulsing to a haunting soundscape by Academy Award-nominated composer Mica Levi. The result is a nightmare of controlled chaos that is both beautiful and bizarre.

Les Misérables (2019) 

By Ladj Ly

Stéphane has joined the Anti-Crime Squad in the Montfermeil district in Paris, which is overrun by lawlessness and simmering aggravation between rival gangs. When the police cross paths with local youths who are driven to violence after being overawed during an arrest, a drone captures the incident and ignites the community into mass revolt. As tensions mount towards a final reckoning, Stéphane must adapt – at any cost.

Nominated by France as its submission for the Oscars, Ladj Ly has masterfully woven contemporary politics into Victor Hugo’s 19th century masterpiece of the same name with such raw and visceral energy that the film reverberates with an urgency for change against a broken system.

And Then We Danced (2019)

By Levan Akin

Georgian dance is steeped in tradition; all the more so for Merab, who hails from a family of dancers. When a spot opens up in the national ensemble, he leaps at the chance for an audition and falls into the orbit of the newest male dancer, Irakli. Under the eye of friends and girlfriends, their rivalry grows into a forbidden fruit that is equal parts sweet and intoxicating.

Inspired by the lives of queer Georgians, And Then We Danced is a love story told through movement and bodies, set to the beat of everything from Georgian folk music to Robyn’s “Honey”. The young leads’ tender performances recall Call Me by Your Name, providing urgent representation to a community that has long been side-lined in conservative Georgia.

Classics

Flowers of Shanghai (1998)  

By Hou Hsiao-Hsien

Taiwanese auteur Hou Hsiao-hsien’s eponymous adaptation of the classic Chinese novel Flowers of Shanghai provides for a sumptuous and ornate peep into the lives of five courtesans who ply their trade in the pleasure quarters of Shanghai at the turn of the 19th century.

With the romantic entanglements of five courtesans and their wealthy patrons are negotiations of the delicate balance between love and obsession. Comprising just 37 shots of long takes, Flowers of Shanghai is both a deeply poetic meditation on the nature of passion, power, and the artifice of transactional relationships, and a sensitive character study of five women and their bid for survival in a world that is only superficially beautiful.

Memories of Murder (2003)  

By Bong Joon-Ho

It is 1986 in South Korea. A slew of young women have been raped and murdered, with their bodies left out in the open to be found. Park Doo-man, a local detective is on the case. During the investigation, tardy police work and corrupt activities bring Park no closer to catching the killer. Inspired by true events, this haunting tour de force from acclaimed director Bong Joon-ho remains an exemplary  piece of Korean Cinema.

Memories of Murder is Bong’s sardonic commentary on the socio-political histories of South Korea. His second feature film marks the breakout relationship between him and leading-man Song Kang-ho. They would go on to collaborate in Bong’s later films, such as The Host (2003) and Parasite (2019).

*New

Filmmakers Present

New this year, Filmmakers Present will offer a rare insight into the creative minds at work in the film industry by presenting to the audience both the films and the filmmakers.

Star Trek (2009)  

By J.J Abrams

In the 23rd century, the United Federation of Planets collectively operates the Starfleet. On one fateful starship mission, James T. Kirk’s life begins the day his father heroically sacrifices his own. Years later, when he accepts the challenge to be a better captain than his father ever was, his destiny is forever rewritten.

Star Trek (2009) was a well-received reboot of the 1970s franchise, garnering critical acclaim, box office success and eventually the Academy Award for Best Makeup. This was the third collaboration between American make-up artist Barney Burman, a key member on the film’s make-up team, and director J.J. Abrams, who once declared himself nervous about “all these tattooed faces and pointy ears” 

Barney Burman will be in attendance.

Send Me To The Clouds (2019)  

By Teng Congcong

Sheng Nan, whose name literally means ‘Better than Man’ is a strong-willed investigative journalist who finds herself at life’s crossroads when she discovers she has ovarian cancer, and may never again enjoy carnal pleasures. Beset with family woes and unable to afford the necessary surgery, Sheng Nan undertakes an assignment to ghost-write the memoirs of a mildly celebrated calligrapher to earn her medical fee, and perhaps find herself a partner who is willing to get intimate with her for possibly the last time.

Drawing praise for its confident and unapologetic depiction of a modern woman and her desires, director Teng Congcong’s debut feature film ​Send Me to the Clouds (2019) is a brilliant ode to female empowerment and self-discovery. 

Director Teng Congcong as well as actress and producer of the film, Yao Chen, will be present for a post-screening dialogue. Yao Chen is also the recipient of this year’s Cinema Icon Award. 

Pang Ho-Cheung’s First Attempt When He Was Fourteen

Pang Ho Cheung started filmmaking by using old video cameras. Since then, he has achieved international acclaim and commercial success with works like ​Dream Home (2010) and ​Love in a Puff trilogy (2010 – 2017). With intriguing dark observations laced with humour, we delve into what kickstarted Pang’s love for storytelling.

Director Pang’s Mom Singing (1987)  

A series of captured vignettes featuring Pang’s mother’s lively renditions of pop songs in Cantonese.

Bank Robbery (1985)

Pang Ho-Cheung showcases his directing and acting chops at an early age in this adorable kiddie crime caper.

The First Adventure of the Three Gangsta Bears (1988)

A hopeful family-run movie company gets more than bargained for whilst shooting a tribute to their favourite genre.

Summer Exercise (1999)

A young student goes to extreme lengths to avoid doing his homework in Hong Kong’s summer of ‘99.

In Conversation

In Conversation with ​Nina Wu  

24 Nov, Sun | 4.30pm | 60 min | Oldham Theatre

Midi Z, director of ​Road to Mandalay ​(2016) returns to SGIFF with his latest film ​Nina Wu​, which world premiered in the Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes Film Festival this year. In this discussion, Midi Z will be joined by Wu Ke-Xi, Nina Wu’s screenwriter and lead actress playing the eponymous character as well as supporting actress Hsia Yu-Chiao. Together, they will be sharing on the inspiration behind the film, the difficulties faced by actresses in navigating the competitive field of cinema to build a career in film, and the issue of women empowerment that the film ultimately aims to highlight.

Director Midi Z and actresses Wu Ke-Xi and Hsia Yu-Chiao will be present for the red carpet premiere of Nina Wu on 24 November, 8pm at Capitol Theatre.

In Conversation with Barney Burman

23 Nov, Sat | 7pm | 60 min | The Projector, Blueroom

Hollywood, Barney Burman’s credits include the major franchises Mission Impossible and Star Trek, the latter winning him an Academy Award in 2009. Barney is the son of Tom Burman, whose work on the original Star Trek series helped establish the credentials of make-up effects. The Burman family has inspired generations of filmmakers including acclaimed director J.J. Abrams, who as a child, wrote them fan letters. Barney Burman will be discussing his work, the demands and practices of high-end studio production, and the significance of make-up effects to the modern cinematic imagination.

Barney Burman will be present at the post screening dialogue of Star Trek on 23 Nov, 9.30pm at The Projector to share how its inhabitants were created through the ingenuity of prosthetic effects.

In Conversation with Stone (石頭)

22 Nov, Fri | 4.30pm | 60 min | The Projector Redroom

Guitarist of Asian rock band Mayday, Shi Chin-Hang, better known as Stone, is becoming a familiar face in cinema. He is recognised for his stand-out performance in the short film ​Inchworm ​(2014), and more recently, playing a grieving widower in ​Zinnia Flower (2015) and a corrupt policeman in ​Cities of Last Things​ (2018).

Here, he will be discussing the transition from musician and rock star to acting, the different demands of performance and avoiding the expectations of music fans in his choice of roles, and his search for characters with deep emotional challenges.

Masterclasses

Masterclass by Takashi Miike

1 Dec, Sun | 11am | 60 min | NMS Salon

Takashi Miike is widely recognised as one of the world’s most productive and unclassifiable directors. He began his career in television, then as an assistant director to filmmakers such as Umetsugu Inoue and Shohei Imamura. His international breakthrough came in 1999 with ​Audition​, chosen as one of the top 25 horror films of all time by Time Magazine. 

Miike achieved international acclaim for cult favourites Ichi the Killer (2001),13 Assassins (2010) and ​Yakuza Apocalypse (2015). In this masterclass, we will look into Miike’s illustrious career as a cult favourite, and find out how he stays true to his bold and dynamic visions.

Takashi Miike will also be present at the pre-screening introduction to his latest film ​First Love (2019) ​on 29 November at Filmgarde Bugis+, Hall 6.