The 30th Singapore International Film Festival Draws To A Close With A Record Attendance Of More Than 110,000 Audiences And 35 Sold-Out Screenings

  • Attendance to the 30th SGIFF and its offscreen programmes was close to a six-fold increase from 2018, and the highest since the Festival returned in 2014
  • Support for homegrown filmmakers was strong, with a complete sold-out of Singapore Panorama screenings and feature documentary, Unteachable, being the first-ever local film to clinch the Audience Choice Award 

Singapore, 3 December 2019 – The 30th Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) culminated on Sunday (1 Dec) after two weeks of film screenings and off-screen programmes that celebrated and showcased the best of independent cinema. The Festival brought together a record attendance of more than 110,000 festival-goers to engage with filmmakers from Singapore and the region in film screenings, panels, talks, exhibitions and masterclasses. 

This year, the SGIFF presented a dynamic line-up of over 90 films by auteurs from 40 countries that took the pulse of Asian and international cinema, of which includes 35 sold-out screenings, surpassing its past record in 2017. There was also strong support for works by homegrown filmmakers, with the Festival’s opening film, Wet Season by Anthony Chen, being the first film sold out in the lineup, and all titles under the Singapore Panorama snatched up by the audience. 

The crowd has spoken at the Audience Choice Award

The much-anticipated Audience Choice Award was awarded to Unteachable by Singaporean filmmaker, Yong Shuling, marking the first time a local film has received this Award. The debut feature documentary by Yong follows the story of Damian, a struggling teenager at the bottom rung of Singapore’s academic ladder, and a young teacher Meixi, who is on a mission to transform the way learning is conducted in classes like his. Both screenings of Unteachable during the Festival were sold out, and had its third run as part of the Audience Choice Award at the National Museum of Singapore on 1 December alongside the winners of the Best Asian Feature Film, Scales (Sayidat Al Bahr) by Saudi Arabian filmmaker, Shahad Ameen and Best Southeast Asian Short Film, I’m Not Your F***ing Stereotype by Thai filmmaker, Hesome Chemamah at the Silver Screen Awards.

To commemorate the SGIFF’s landmark edition, the Festival also closed with a 30th Anniversary Special Presentation screening of The Truth by Palme d’Or Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda on 1 December 2019 at Golden Village Grand. This latest feature by Kore-eda is his first out of Japan, and 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). 

The 11-day SGIFF saw an outstanding lineup of stars and industry heavyweights gracing the Festival as they interacted with the audience during the red-carpet galas at Capitol Theatre, masterclasses and dialogue sessions held around the island. This included Golden Globe winning actress, Joanne Froggatt; Hollywood’s leading makeup effects artist, Barney Burman; acclaimed Indian actor, Nawazuddin Siddiqui; actor and guitarist of iconic Taiwanese rock band, Stone; distinguished Chinese actress, Yao Chen; and Taiwanese personalities, Wu Ke-xi and Hsia Yu-chiao. Esteemed filmmakers, Takashi Miike, Midi Z, Pang Ho Cheung and Anurag Kashyap, also graced the Festival. 

Extending the 30th SGIFF experience to a wider audience

For its 30th anniversary, the SGIFF also presented a series of events in collaboration with like-minded partners and welcomed audiences old and new to explore different facets of filmmaking. This included the launch of Nature’s Playground, an exhibition featuring self-portraits of nine local film and media personalities such as Kirsten Tan, Yeo Yann Yann and Yeo Siew Hua that illustrate their creative journeys inspired by nature, as well as the second edition of Moonlight Cinema where visitors enjoyed three movie screenings under the stars. Both events were held in partnership with Gardens by the Bay Youths Celebrate!.

In the lead up to the SGIFF, illustrator Mary Bernadette Lee and filmmaker Gladys Ng also invited visitors to explore the ephemeral beauty of first encounters through film and art in a creative session titled Naiise Iconic x SGIFF: & held at the homegrown design brand’s new custom lab. Festival-goers went hands-on and explored the art of filmmaking as part of a series of workshops held in partnership with creative initiative, Today at Apple: The Craft of Film. Families, too, had their share of fun at the first-ever Singapore Media Festival Village at Armenian Street with SGIFF-curated programmes such as interactive audition & casting sessions and a workshop with award-winning filmmaker, and writer of the popular Netflix animated series, Rilakkuma and Kaoru, Naoko Ogigami.

SGIFF Executive Director, Yuni Hadi, said, “2019 is a significant milestone for both the SGIFF and Singapore as we celebrated 30 editions of the best of independent cinema led by a homegrown festival. While offerings have evolved over the years alongside changing entertainment choices, we remain rooted in championing the diverse voices in Southeast Asian independent cinema, growing appreciation of local and regional films, and enabling Singapore to be the discovery ground of this spirited storytelling. This year’s Festival attendance is indicative of the passionate interest from our community to discover more of the world through film and storytelling. We are also appreciative of the immense support from our partners who have journeyed with us to bring the best of our regional cinema to the audience. We hope that the Festival experience will continue inspiring more filmmakers and film lovers for our regional scene to grow and be strengthened year on year.” 

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. 

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

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Please refer to the appended Annexes for more information.

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/

Annex A: Quotes by local and international personalities on the 30th SGIFF

Mr Midi Z

Myanmar-born Taiwanese Filmmaker
Nina Wu (2019) 

“This was my second visit to the Singapore International Film Festival. I can see that my film, Nina Wu, is very popular with the audience. I ran into a couple of them during my stay and they said they loved it. Maybe they rarely have the opportunity to see a film like this and they were surprised. So, I’m very happy about the positive feedback. I feel that the SGIFF is a very organised film festival. It’s a pity that I stayed for such a short time that I didn’t get to see other films. Hopefully, I’ll have the chance to come back again soon.”

Ms Wu Ke-Xi

Actress
Nina Wu (2019)

“这是我第二次参与新加坡国际电影节,很开心能再次感受到新加坡观众朋友们的热情以及对电影 的热爱。短短几天与影展方还有各国影人们的交流与反馈也都让我非常的感动以及收获满满,期 待下回的相见!” 

“This was my second time participating in the Singapore International Film Festival. It’s such a joy to experience the love and enthusiasm of the Singapore film audiences once again. The conversations and feedback I’ve gained from film practitioners all over the world over the course of a few short days had also touched me greatly and I’ve learnt a lot. I look forward to seeing everyone again!”

Ms Hsia Yu-Chiao

Actress
Nina Wu (2019)

“第一次参加新加坡国际电影节很开心,也很荣幸。在讲座上感受到有许多观众对于《灼人秘密》 的好奇提问,非常热情,让我印象深刻。而且也认识了很欣赏的新加坡导演,期待将来有机会参 与新加坡导演的电影作品,也能继续带着不同的电影作品参与新加坡国际电影节。”

“It is my pleasure and honour to attend the Singapore International Film Festival for the first time. During the In Conversation, I could feel the audience’s curiosity and love towards Nina Wu and that left a lasting impression on me. I also interacted with a few Singapore filmmakers whom I admire, and hope that there will be an opportunity to work with them in the future. I look forward to visiting the Festival with new works.” 

Mr Benjamin Kheng

Musician

“SGIFF is a wonderful seminal event every year. Being a part of this really feels like family, as I see a lot of familiar faces and also how the scene has grown. While I’m in favour of regional and international appeal, I think it’s important that the Festival is always shining the light back on what’s local, and making it a big deal. It’s been so helpful for practitioners like myself or anyone else all over the world.”

Ms Felicia Chin

Actress

“It is very important to lend support and be part of this significant film event in Singapore. There is so much to learn from people all around the region, even locally as well. SGIFF is not only for people who are onscreen but offscreen as well – I love that there are a lot of masterclasses and interactions and it is like a good blend of everyone who are either industry giants or people who are just starting out. I think there are also no biases and there is something for everyone.”

Mr Alan Wan

Actor

“I think SGIFF is absolutely vital because it boosts the local scene for films and I think that it is very important to keep the culture alive.”

Ms Constance Lau

Actress

“I attended SGIFF last year and I really liked the films, and this year I am intrigued by the line-up too. SGIFF is important because as Asian storytellers, filmmakers here often don’t have enough screen time. Also, we always see a lot of Hollywood films and we don’t show a lot of our Asian movies and films, so I think the festival is great because we get to show what Asia has.” 

Annex B: List of sold-out screenings at the 30th SGIFF

  1. A Sun
  2. Accept the Call 
  3. And Then We Danced 
  4. Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains 
  5. First Love 
  6. Flowers of Shanghai 
  7. I Dream of Singapore 
  8. Invisible Stories
  9. Kamagasaki Cauldron War 
  10. Last Night I Saw You Smiling 
  11. Les Miserables 
  12. Lucky7 
  13. Matthias and Maxime 
  14. Midnight Traveler 
  15. Monos 
  16. Marriage Story 
  17. Portrait of a Lady on Fire* 
  18. Revolution Launderette
  19. Saturday Fiction 
  20. Singapore Panorama Shorts 
  21. Southeast Asian Short Film Competition Programme 3
  22. Southeast Asian Short Film Competition Programme 4 
  23. Send Me to the Clouds 
  24. The Lighthouse 
  25. The Tree Remembers 
  26. The Two Popes
  27. The Wild Goose Lake* 
  28. Unteachable*
  29. Vivarium* 
  30. Wet Season

*Both screenings were sold out 

Annex C: Quotes by Official Sponsors

Mr Howie Lau

Chief Industry Development Officer
Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA)

“Congratulations to SGIFF for a fantastic festival run. 30 years is a remarkable achievement; from SGIFF’s humble beginnings as a platform to showcase independent films to a dynamic festival that is also committed to nurturing and discovering talent from Southeast Asia through efforts such as the SGIFF’s Southeast Asia Producers Network. We are thrilled and honoured to be part of that journey and believe more than ever that Asia is Now with the growing demand for richer and diverse stories emerging from Singapore and the region. We will continue to celebrate our distinctive storytelling through the Singapore Media Festival as we support “Made-with-Singapore” co-productions between Singaporean creative producers and Southeast Asian filmmaking talent as with the recent announcement of the inaugural eight projects shortlisted for the Southeast Asia Co-Production Grant (SCPG). We appreciate having a partner such as the SGIFF as we continue to support the push for grooming regional talent.”

Mr Christopher Wehner

Managing Director
BMW Group Asia

“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 Automobile for the Singapore International Film Festival for the third time running.”

Ms Annie Lee

Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Singapore)
Perennial Real Estate Holdings Limited

“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 second 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 delighted and 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 are congregated at and successes are celebrated. Through this significant collaboration, we also aspire to continue Capitol Theatre’s legacy of bringing quality arts and entertainment to the public.”

Mr Tane Picken

General Manager
Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore

“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 in the festival this year.”

Mr Campbell Wilson

Senior Vice President Sales and Marketing
Singapore Airlines

“We are honoured to be the Official Airline for the Singapore International Film Festival for the fifth consecutive year. Singapore Airlines is committed to supporting the development of the arts and culture in Singapore. We are confident that this year’s festival will inspire and promote the appreciation of a diverse range of local, regional and international films to audiences in Singapore and globally.”