A champion of Southeast Asian independent cinema, the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) returns for its 32nd edition in theatres only from November 25, 2021 to December 5, 2021. This edition will present a diverse, inclusive range of over 100 films by filmmakers from all over the world.
The SGIFF 2021 is an event of the Singapore Media Festival (SMF), which is hosted by Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA). The festival will be hosted across multiple venues in Singapore 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. There will be Film Academy sessions at LASALLE College of the Arts, Nanyang Technological University and WILD RICE.
Priority sale tickets for SGIFFriends are available for purchase at SGIFF.com from 12:00 p.m. pm November 8, 2021. Official ticket sales commence at 12:00 p.m. on November 9, 2021.
The carefully selected SGIFF 2021 films speak of memories, emotions, inspired conversations and discussions that together celebrate the rejuvenation and continuity of film and storytelling in the cinematic community. SGIFF 2021 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,” Thong said. “We need to use this potential to cultivate a deeper and more diverse appreciation of film culture within our society. 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 SGIFF 2021 line-up is presented across five new sections, expressed by different positionings, to better profile the films based on the nature of their content. Here are are the details about the sections:
This section presents some of the film attractions of the year, including award-winners, festival favorites and critically acclaimed new works from established auteurs.
- “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 is a French drama film that first premiered at the 71st Berlin International Film Festival in March 2021.
- “Great Freedom” by Sebastian Meise won the Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.
This highlights 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.
- “Memoria” is 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 honors 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 materializes 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.
This section platforms important attitudes of personal, social and political consequences through the cinematic medium and its accompanying discussions. These perspectives not only align themselves with urgent and topical issues but also showcase creativity on their own terms.
- “Some Women” by Quen Wong is the debut feature of Singapore’s first transgender film director as she lays bare her vulnerabilities to reclaim her identity. The film will have its World Premiere at SGIFF.
- “Mr Bachmann and His Class” by Maria Speth is a sensitive and compelling portrait of immigrant youths adapting to life in a town with a troubled history, aided by their thoughtful and inspired teacher. Winner of the Silver Bear Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the Berlinale (Berlin International Film Festival) 2021.
This section uncovers and affirms imaginative treatments of the moving image within the practice of cinematic presentations.
- “All Light Everywhere” by Theo Anthony touches on the broad history of photography and cinematic cameras, and the false fantasies that it is an objective machine that captures indexical truth. Winner of U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award at Sundance Film Festival 2021.
- “A Night of Knowing Nothing” is Payal Kapadia’s debut hybrid feature, a fever dream of impossible love tied to a broader reflection on contemporary India. The film won the Oeil d’or (Golden Eye) Award for best documentary at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.
- “The Edge of Daybreak” is a gothic evocation of a family’s trauma enmeshed in three decades of Thai politics. The debut feature by Taiki Sakpisit won the FIPRESCI Award at the 2021 International Film Festival Rotterdam.
This new thematic section focused on a sphere of activity and knowledge in cinema. This year, SGIFF has invited film curators Inge de Leeuw and Julian Ross to programme the inaugural edition with their chosen theme:, artist and filmmaker collectives, who have come together to resist dominant structures through storytelling and documentary activism.
- “Nightcleaners” is a documentary made by members of the Berwick Street Collective in 1975, raising awareness of the situation of women cleaning offices overnight for very low pay. This film is a British landmark of collective and feminist film-making.
- “Inside the Red Brick Wall” is a powerfully immediate account of the November 2019 Pro-Democracy Protest at Hong Kong Polytechnic University by an anonymous collective known as Hong Kong Documentary Filmmakers.
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 namely “Anatomy of Time,” “Yuni,” “Whether the Weather is Fine,” “Rehana Maryam Noor” and “Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash.”