SINGAPORE, 23 September 2015 – The 26th edition of the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) will open with Panay (太陽的孩子), a heartwarming Taiwanese film that casts a spotlight on an aboriginal community. Directed by inter-ethnic duo Cheng Yu-Chieh and Lekal Sumi, the film’s opening will be held at Marina Bay Sands on 26 November 2015, marking its international premiere at SGIFF.
Winner of the Audience Choice Award at the 2015 Taipei Film Festival, Panay conveys a rare sensitivity and captures an authentic perspective of the life and predicaments faced by Taiwan’s indigenous communities on land rights. The film marks the screen debut of singer-songwriter Ado’ Kaliting Pacidal (阿洛．卡力亭．巴奇辣), together with award-winning actor Bokeh Kosang (徐詣帆); they are supported by a stellar young cast of first-time actors including Dongi Kacaw (吴燕姿) and Rahic Kulas (林嘉均). The compelling storyline follows a mother’s return to her hometown upon leaving behind her city job to care for her ailing father. Through a series of trying circumstances, the film’s protagonist, Panay, reconnects with her children amidst a journey of self-discovery and the quest for her roots.
SGIFF Executive Director, Yuni Hadi, said, “The unique collaboration between Cheng Yu-Chieh and Lekal Sumi has resulted in an inspiring film that brings to light a contemporary topic with a lot of heart. We were moved by the beauty and spirit of Panay; its powerful message around preserving and fighting for what we hold close to our hearts resonates with what we believe and stand for as a festival – to tell Asia’s story through film.”
Panay directors Cheng Yu-Chieh and Lekal Sumi shared that they were honoured to be invited to open the Festival in Singapore, marking its first international stop in a momentous way.
Lekal Sumi said “We look forward to sharing Panay’s story at SGIFF, providing insights into some of the real cultural struggles faced by our aboriginal tribes and presenting a different side of Taiwan to an international audience.” Cheng adds, “While our film centers on a small community in Taiwan, we believe its bigger message about leaving a legacy for future generations is universal. We hope Panay will serve to bring encouragement to those who might face similar predicaments around the world.”
The 26th edition of SGIFF will take place across various venues, including Marina Bay Sands, which returns this year as Presenting Sponsor. The other screening venues are National Museum of Singapore, Shaw Theatres Lido, National Gallery Singapore, The Arts House, The Projector and The Substation. Film line-up for this year’s edition will be curated from the over 1,400 submissions received. Ticket sales for SGIFF will begin end October 2015.
The SGIFF is an event of the Singapore Media Festival, hosted by Media Development Authority (Singapore). SGIFF’s Official Sponsors include Presenting Sponsor, Marina Bay Sands and Official Festival Time Partner, IWC Schaffhausen.
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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/
Cheng Yu-Chieh (郑有杰) and Lekal Sumi (勒嘎 舒米)
Taiwan / 99 minutes / Mandarin, Amis
An indigenous family in Taiwan comes of age in their bid to save their land from modern development
Set against the idyllic rolling rice fields and the sapphire Pacific Ocean – with the ongoing threat of bulldozers signalling a change in the landscape and the peoples’ livelihood – Panay follows the ebb and flow of an indigenous community’s struggles, and in a wider sense, a reality that many of us face today with urban development and the gentrification of tradition.
When her father falls ill, Panay heads back to her hometown to provide for her family, a seaside indigenous village of the Amis tribe where her two children are residing. Away from the city, she reconnects with her family, immersing herself once again into the land of her youth. But the present does not quite match her memories of the place. She soon comes to understand the precarious state of their land and traditions as affected by tourism and urban development.
A journey of self-discovery moves in tandem with the discovery of community as Panay sheds the burdens of her city job and joins in the struggle to protect the land of her ancestors, bringing back to life the dried up rice fields and restoring the communities’ farming practices. Slowly, she rekindles her relationship with her family.
While addressing an urgent issue in its narrative, Panay is filled with brief genuine moments that are revelatory in its intimacy, focusing on the interpersonal encounters between characters and their own ways and approaches towards navigating this changing landscape.
Panay received the Audience Choice Award at the Taipei Film Festival in 2015.
Biography of Directors
Cheng Yu-Chieh (郑有杰)
Born in 1977 in Tainan, Cheng Yu-Chieh began his movie career with the 16mm short films Baby Face and Summer, Dream (Best Short Film, Golden Horse Awards 2001). His debut feature film, Do Over (2006), was selected for Venice Film Festival International Critics’ Week. His second feature film, Yang Yang (2009), screened in the Berlinale Panorama section and was also the Opening Film for the Taipei Film Festival. Both films had travelled extensively to many international film festivals, winning many accolades and awards. In addition to directing, Cheng also works actively as an actor for TV and films in Taiwan.
Lekal Sumi (勒嘎．舒米)
Born in 1985, Lekal Sumi’s father is from Tainan while his mother is from the Pangcah tribe but grew up in Tainan. After his military service, he returned to the Hualien tribes, coming into contact with his Pangcah descent. The Pangcah culture was foreign to him as he had never spent time with the tribes while growing up. Hence, he decided to stay with the tribes to rediscover his forgotten roots and heritage. In 2011, in response to his mother’s dream to revive the rice terraces that have been abandoned for 20 years, he decided to pick up the camera and document the entire process. The result was his first short documentary film, Wish of the Ocean Rice (2012).