What to expect at this year’s Singapore International Film Festival

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By Boshika Gupta

Cinephiles have a reason to rejoice. The Singapore International Film Festival will be back with its 28th edition later this month with a host of international movies for every kind of festival attendee.

The line-up is promising with 112 titles that celebrate the love for cinema and everything that it brings. Expect brilliant cinematography, crazy storytelling and a chance to see masters at work, doing what they do best. SGIFF 2017 programme director Pimpaka Towira said that this year’s edition is aimed at showcasing a variety of films that left behind an impression.

“The demand for quality content has never been greater today. In the last one year, we have witnessed bold experimentation from film auteurs to showcase diversity in storylines, genres and styles, as they push the envelope in filmmaking,” she told Channel News Asia.

There are 18 world premieres to look forward to along with six Asian premieres.  Festivalgoers will also be treated to masterclasses by veteran Indonesian filmmaker Garin Nugroho (Letter for An Angel, 1994) and Japanese actor Koji Yakusho (Memoirs of a Geisha, 2005).

The festival’s opening film will be Angels Wear White by Vivian Qu. The Chinese drama, that explores sexual assault, competed at the 74th Venice International Film Festival in September.

Here’s a look at some of the most exciting titles this year:

The Square (Sweden / directed by Ruben Östlund)

This film explores the life of a Swedish museum curator whose world turns chaotic after he hires a public relations team for his well-known museum. It’s a witty, satirical look at contemporary media and is guaranteed to make you laugh and think about its hard-hitting message long after you’ve finished watching it.

Angels Wear White (China / directed by Vivian Qu)

Set in a tiny coastal town in China, this film examines sexual assault. A teenage receptionist finds herself in trouble when she becomes the sole witness to a despicable act involving two schoolgirls and a middle-aged man at a motel. This is a powerful story that has generated positive reactions from audiences everywhere.

It Comes At Night (USA / directed by Trey Edward Shults)

This horror film presents an apocalyptic-like situation with two families counting themselves among the survivors and trying to make a difficult alliance work. They start realizing that the actual threat may come from within, presenting a gripping look at an unnatural and scary scenario.

I Want To Go Home (Singapore, Japan / directed by Wesley Leon)

March 11, 2011 was a devastating day for Yasuo Takamatsu who lost his wife when a tsunami struck during the Great East Japan earthquake. Since that day, the heartbroken Takamatsu has been diving every week, trying to find his wife and make her last wish come true. This is his story.

Claire’s Camera (France, South Korea / directed by Sang-soo Hong)

This drama film has been directed by veteran filmmaker Hong Sang-soo and stars acclaimed French actress Isabelle Huppert and popular South Korean actress Kim Min-hee. It follows a Frenchwoman who says she can transform people’s lives by clicking their photos and has the Cannes film festival as its backdrop.  It promises to be a fascinating watch and a glimpse into the director’s mysterious mind.      

Call Me by Your Name (Italy, France, Brazil, USA / directed by Luca Guadagnino)

This heart-warming coming-of-age film looks at an unforgettable and unconventional summer romance against the backdrop of a charming landscape. Set in Italy, this deeply moving drama has been praised for its strong performances and beautiful storyline.

Oh Lucy! (Japan, USA / directed by Atsuko Hirayanagi)

This film revolves around the life of a lonely woman who decides to take English classes in Tokyo. She forges a new identity and ends up on an unlikely quest as she explores her feelings for her instructor. This movie is a dark, bittersweet comedy that celebrates human connections in the quirkiest way.

Granny (Ajji) (India / directed by Devashish Makhija)

This is a rape-revenge film that promises to shake its viewers and make them recoil in disgust at the state of the world.  Ajji follows a 65-year-old grandmother who is filled with the need for revenge after her granddaughter is the victim of a brutal sexual assault. The film is set in the dark alleyways of a slum and is a harrowing ride that will make most people ask many important questions and lead to heated debates.

Shuttle Life (Malaysia/ directed by Tan Seng Kiat)

A young man, Qiang, lives with his family in a cramped apartment, fighting to make ends meet. He takes care of his mentally disabled mother and also looks after his six-year-old sister. A horrific accident leads to the toughest test that Qiang has been put through so far as he battles bureaucracy and ugly privilege.  Shuttle Life sheds light on the stark difficulties between the rich and the poor, and the prevalent injustice in the latter’s lives.

The Florida Project (USA / directed by Sean Baker)

This is a warm poignant tale of childhood. Another summer film, it follows six-year-old Moonee as she tries her best to balance mischief with her friends while nurturing responsibilities towards her rebellious and loving mother. By the way, they live on a stretch of highway very close to Disney World.