26 October 2021

32nd Singapore International Film Festival Celebrates the Enduring Joy of Cinema with New Perspectives

The anticipated annual event runs from 25 November to 5 December 2021, featuring over 100 films from more than 40 countries

– New film sections join hallmark categories in the 2021 programme as the festival goes back to cinema-only format, curated by recently appointed Programme Director, Thong Kay Wee
– More than 100 films will be screened across 6 cinemas in Singapore during the 11-day festival, representing works from more than 40 countries with strong representation from Southeast Asia 
– Indonesian filmmaker Edwin’s Vengeance is Mine, All Others Pay Cash is this year’s opening film
– SGIFF presents the inaugural Outstanding Contribution to Southeast Asian Cinema Award to Southeast Asia Fiction Film Lab (SEAFIC)

SINGAPORE, 26 October 2021 — A champion of Southeast Asian independent cinema, the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) returns for its 32nd edition in theatres-only from 25 November to 5 December 2021. This year’s Festival will present a diverse, inclusive range of over 100 films by filmmakers from all over the world. These carefully selected films speak of memories, emotions, inspired conversations and discussions — that together celebrate the rejuvenation and continuity of film and storytelling in the cinematic community. 


Legacy Through a New Lens
Programme Director, Thong Kay Wee’s goal for his inaugural Festival line-up was to build on the Festival’s legacy while introducing fresh perspectives to excite existing and new audiences. “As the largest and longest-running film event in Singapore, SGIFF has the greatest capacity to engage the widest local interest in cinema. We need to use this potential to cultivate a deeper and more diverse appreciation of film culture within our society,” says Thong. “I wish to foster more curiosities, encourage more audiences to embrace different positionalities, and express a principle that humanity vis-à-vis cinema can always be open-ended when we choose to think beyond the lines of regionality and boundaries. We gather in the theatres again simply to enjoy and understand one another better.”
In this vein, the 32nd Festival line-up is presented across five new sections, expressed by different positionings, to better profile the films based on the nature of their content.


Top: A still from ‘Memoria’ featuring Tilda Swinton, by Apichapong Weerasethakul Bottom: A still from Quen Wong’s ‘Some Women’ 

Foreground

Foreground presents some of the film attractions of the year, including award-winners, festival favourites and critically acclaimed new works from established auteurs.

Film Highlights

A Hero’ by Oscar winning writer/director, Asghar Fahadi was presented with the Grand Prix at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.

Petite Maman’ by Celine Sciamma, a French drama film that first premiered at the 71st Berlin International Film Festival in March 2021.

Great Freedom’ by Sebastian Meise, which won the Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.

Milestone

Highlighting films with special significance such as an important event in the development of a filmmaker’s career, national cinema or film history in general that ought to be celebrated with audiences.

Film Highlights

‘Memoria’, Apichapong Weerasethakul’s first film foray out of his home country of Thailand. Starring Tilda Swinton, the film had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival 2021. It was selected as the Colombian entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 94th Academy Awards, to be held in 2022.

Barbarian Invasion’, Malaysian director Tan Chui Mui’s first feature film in more than a decade, with collaborators from the Malaysian New Wave. The piece has won the Jury Grand Prix, one of the two top honours at the Golden Goblet Awards, in conjunction with the 24th Shanghai International Film Festival

‘Those Left Waiting’ is conceived by Australian director Michael Beets and is the first-ever global live documentary co-directed and filmed by refugee filmmakers, and edited in real time. Each live stream screening materialises in the moment, making every session unique.

‘Karmalink’ is the first science fiction movie set in Cambodia with Khmer actors and characters, and the debut feature by American director Jake Wachtel. Its showing at SGIFF will be its Asian Premiere, following its World Premiere at the Venice Critics’ Week. 

SGIFF also retains the beloved Singapore Panorama category, highlighting local filmmaking talent, which has strengthened in numbers for SGIFF 2021 with 23 local films being showcased, including ‘Scene UnSeen’ by the late Abdul Nizam and his friends, and ‘Mat Magic’ by Mat Sentol and John Calvert. The latter is a 1971 Cathay-Keris classic, 50th anniversary, newly restored film by the Asian Film Archive. 

As an affirmation of the festival’s commitment to promoting Asian cinema and forging new relationships in the region, five regional co-production feature films will also be presented: ‘Anatomy of Time’, ‘Yuni’, ‘Whether the Weather is Fine’, ‘Rehana Maryam Noor’ as well as this year’s opening film ‘Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash’. 

Opening Films Explore Machismo and Memories

The Opening Film for this year’s festival, “Vengeance is Mine, All Others Pay Cash’ is a riotous, black comedy-drama that explores the prevalence of toxic masculinity. Directed by Indonesian wunderkind Edwin, the film is an adaptation of Man Booker-nominated Eka Kurniawan’s best-selling book. 

“I have been following SGIFF since 2004, and showed my first short film ‘A Very Slow Breakfast’. To now be able to open the festival almost two decades later is an amazing, serendipitous feeling,” shares Edwin. “In fact, it was SGIFF that introduced me to Southeast Asian cinema and correspondingly, a network of peers that are now friends. Within our region, we speak different languages and have different cultures, but we are connected by the same feelings, tastes, voices, memories, and dreams. I very much look forward to seeing more Southeast Asian cinema on the world stage.”

Edwin and Kurniawan co-wrote the screenplay, and the film won the Golden Leopard for ‘Best Film’ category in the 74th edition of the Locarno Film Festival (2021). It is also a recipient of IMDA and the Singapore Film Commission’s (SFC) Southeast Asia Co-Production Grant. 

Presented alongside the opening film is this year’s festival-commissioned short “Dreaming” by Nelson Yeo, who won Best Singapore Short Film at the 2020 Silver Screen Awards for his work “Here Is Not There”. The 15-minute film looks at the reunion of three old friends that reignites a love triangle. 

Now & Next: Honouring Cinematic Luminaries in Asia

Every year, SGIFF honours and recognises the exceptional contributions of filmmakers, whose iconic works have helped shape Asian cinema, at the Silver Screen Awards. This year’s Asian Feature Film Competition presents 10 new films by directors making their first to third features. With entries such as ‘Rehana Maryam Noor’ by Abdullah Mohammad Saad, the first film from Bangladesh to officially screen at Cannes and co-produced by Singapore producer Jeremy Chua, the dynamism of the region is fully expressed through each film’s distinct localism and diversity of style. Likewise, the Southeast Asian Short Film Competition presents 23 new films across five programmes, offering a nuanced overview of the region while accentuating the complexities and specificities located within.

For the very first time, SGIFF will be awarding the inaugural Outstanding Contribution to Southeast Asian Cinema Award to Southeast Asia Fiction Film Lab (SEAFIC), for their exceptional work in elevating regional cinema. An intensive script and development incubator for Southeast Asian filmmakers, SEAFIC has helped to advance, strengthen and refine the quality of feature-length scripts and projects from the region. Besides filmmaking, the award takes into consideration resource-building, heritage preservation and promotion, among others. 

“At SGIFF, we are reminded every day of the passionate individuals in the film community who work so hard together to bring you on a cinematic storytelling journey. For SGIFF 2021, we want to celebrate the necessary persistence of storytelling as a mobius strip that twists, curls and bends, carrying on as an infinite loop — represented through this year’s festival key visual”, shares Emily J. Hoe, Executive Director, SGIFF. “If 2020 was the year we stepped out of our comfort zones to make SGIFF a hybrid format, I am proud to say we have come full circle, emerging stronger than ever and taking the gathering back to the cinemas, where we experience the true magic of film.”

The 32nd SGIFF will be hosted across multiple festival venues, with screenings at Filmgarde Bugis+, Carnival Cinema at Golden Mile Tower, Golden Village Grand, Oldham Theatre, National Museum of Singapore, and Shaw Lido; talks and panels will be held at The Arts House and The Projector; and Film Academy sessions at LASALLE College of the Arts, Nanyang Technological University and WILD RICE. SGIFF is an event of the Singapore Media Festival (SMF), hosted by Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA). 

Priority Sale tickets for SGIFFriends are available for purchase at SGIFF.com from 8 November, 12pm. Official Ticket Sales commence 9 November, 12pm.

-ENDS-

(Download full media assets)

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SGIFF also retains the beloved Singapore Panorama category, highlighting local filmmaking talent, which has strengthened in numbers for SGIFF 2021 with 23 local films being showcased, including ‘Scene UnSeen’ by the late Abdul Nizam and his friends, and ‘Mat Magic’ by Mat Sentol and John Calvert. The latter is a 1971 Cathay-Keris classic, 50th anniversary, newly restored film by the Asian Film Archive. 

As an affirmation of the festival’s commitment to promoting Asian cinema and forging new relationships in the region, five regional co-production feature films will also be presented: ‘Anatomy of Time’, ‘Yuni’, ‘Whether the Weather is Fine’, ‘Rehana Maryam Noor’ as well as this year’s opening film ‘Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash’. 

Opening Films Explore Machismo and Memories

The Opening Film for this year’s festival, “Vengeance is Mine, All Others Pay Cash’ is a riotous, black comedy-drama that explores the prevalence of toxic masculinity. Directed by Indonesian wunderkind Edwin, the film is an adaptation of Man Booker-nominated Eka Kurniawan’s best-selling book. 

I have been following SGIFF since 2004, and showed my first short film ‘A Very Slow Breakfast’. To now be able to open the festival almost two decades later is an amazing, serendipitous feeling,” shares Edwin. “In fact, it was SGIFF that introduced me to Southeast Asian cinema and correspondingly, a network of peers that are now friends. Within our region, we speak different languages and have different cultures, but we are connected by the same feelings, tastes, voices, memories, and dreams. I very much look forward to seeing more Southeast Asian cinema on the world stage.”

Edwin and Kurniawan co-wrote the screenplay, and the film won the Golden Leopard for ‘Best Film’ category in the 74th edition of the Locarno Film Festival (2021). It is also a recipient of IMDA and the Singapore Film Commission’s (SFC) Southeast Asia Co-Production Grant. 

Presented alongside the opening film is this year’s festival-commissioned short “Dreaming” by Nelson Yeo, who won Best Singapore Short Film at the 2020 Silver Screen Awards for his work “Here Is Not There”. The 15-minute film looks at the reunion of three old friends that reignites a love triangle. 

Now & Next: Honouring Cinematic Luminaries in Asia

Every year, SGIFF honours and recognises the exceptional contributions of filmmakers, whose iconic works have helped shape Asian cinema, at the Silver Screen Awards. This year’s Asian Feature Film Competition presents 10 new films by directors making their first to third features. With entries such as ‘Rehana Maryam Noor’ by Abdullah Mohammad Saad, the first film from Bangladesh to officially screen at Cannes and co-produced by Singapore producer Jeremy Chua, the dynamism of the region is fully expressed through each film’s distinct localism and diversity of style. Likewise, the Southeast Asian Short Film Competition presents 23 new films across five programmes, offering a nuanced overview of the region while accentuating the complexities and specificities located within.

For the very first time, SGIFF will be awarding the inaugural Outstanding Contribution to Southeast Asian Cinema Award to Southeast Asia Fiction Film Lab (SEAFIC), for their exceptional work in elevating regional cinema. An intensive script and development incubator for Southeast Asian filmmakers, SEAFIC has helped to advance, strengthen and refine the quality of feature-length scripts and projects from the region. Besides filmmaking, the award takes into consideration resource-building, heritage preservation and promotion, among others. 

“At SGIFF, we are reminded every day of the passionate individuals in the film community who work so hard together to bring you on a cinematic storytelling journey. For SGIFF 2021, we want to celebrate the necessary persistence of storytelling as a mobius strip that twists, curls and bends, carrying on as an infinite loop — represented through this year’s festival key visual”, shares Emily J. Hoe, Executive Director, SGIFF. “If 2020 was the year we stepped out of our comfort zones to make SGIFF a hybrid format, I am proud to say we have come full circle, emerging stronger than ever and taking the gathering back to the cinemas, where we experience the true magic of film.”

The 32nd SGIFF will be hosted across multiple festival venues, with screenings at Filmgarde Bugis+, Carnival Cinema at Golden Mile Tower, Golden Village Grand, Oldham Theatre, National Museum of Singapore, and Shaw Lido; talks and panels will be held at The Arts House and The Projector; and Film Academy sessions at LASALLE College of the Arts, Nanyang Technological University and WILD RICE. SGIFF is an event of the Singapore Media Festival (SMF), hosted by Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA). 

Priority Sale tickets for SGIFFriends are available for purchase at SGIFF.com from 8 November, 12pm. Official Ticket Sales commence 9 November, 12pm.

-ENDS-

(Download full media assets)

ANNEX A: Additional Quotes for Editors

“Amidst this challenging year, I am absolutely delighted to see SGIFF, part of IMDA’s Singapore Media Festival, back in the cinema to celebrate the diverse voices and stories of our region the way it is meant to be experienced. Three films supported by IMDA’s Southeast Asia Co-Production Grant films will also be featured at SGIFF and I am excited to see these Made-with-Singapore regional productions showcased to audiences in Singapore and the world.” —  Mr Justin Ang, Assistant Chief Executive, Media & Innovation, IMDA

“SGIFF is proud to have played a part in supporting independent films even during these trying times. The world of cinema offers us so much diversity, and SGIFF will continue to cultivate a deeper appreciation for films by bringing you a selection of the best and most innovative, as well as building on our ever-growing film community.” — Mr. Boo Junfeng, SGIFF Chairperson 

“Art in cinema is a valuable source of creative inspiration and hope, especially in these challenging times. The joy that film evokes is unparalleled, and it is BMW Asia’s honour to support the Singapore International Film Festival as the Official Automobile once again. We wish all guests and participants a safe and enjoyable experience at the cinema.” — Mr. Daren Ching, Director of Marketing, BMW Asia

ANNEX B: Film Trailers

 

Film title

Trailer

Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash

https://youtu.be/45xxHdRFzmc 

A Hero

Currently unavailable

Petite Maman

https://youtu.be/pf3RboLgPVs

Great Freedom

https://youtu.be/QhBzPKA94qU

Memoria

https://youtu.be/vf7sO3K-jKo

Barbarian Invasion

https://youtu.be/cPB6KhIm3RY

Those Left Waiting

https://youtu.be/UBRVQx7l9po

Karmalink

https://youtu.be/r7d_-4EKVno

Some Women

Currently unavailable

Mr Bachmann and His Class

https://youtu.be/yH439BW5FIE

All Light Everywhere

https://youtu.be/4CBffSJxzlE

A Night of Knowing Nothing

https://youtu.be/UgFSjBKqdSY

The Edge of Daybreak

https://youtu.be/Y3u9X9WweLQ

Nightcleaners

Currently unavailable

Inside the Red Brick Wall

https://youtu.be/d4JEV1Z4Y4k

Scene UnSeen

https://youtu.be/0W9BKGS1RtY

Mat Magic

https://youtu.be/IasWwveWxmY

Anatomy of Time

https://youtu.be/XNERWt49rxs

Yuni

https://youtu.be/XfTCsTkFFT4

Whether the Weather is Fine

https://youtu.be/0hQ72mbENUk

Rehana Maryam Noor

https://youtu.be/DaUGE9HPdzQ

Dreaming

Currently unavailable

 

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 culture exchanges in the art of filming. The SGIFF is organized by the Singapore International Film Festival Ltd, a non-profit organization with Institution of a Public Character (IPC) status.

 

The 32nd edition of SGIFF will return from 25 November to 5 December 2021. For more information, please visit https://www.sgiff.com.

 

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