Singapore Film Festival, 2016 - Press Release

A Potpourri of Vestiges Feature

Eclectic line-up at the Singapore Film Festival showcases the island-country’s creative talents

The festival will feature an omnibus film by seven top directors, a whimsical documentary on street performers, and a series of quirky animation shorts.

New Delhi, July 2016: Three days, three films, three filmmakers. The third Singapore Film Festival will take place at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi on 5th, 6th and 7thAugust 2016. Organised by the Singapore High Commission in New Delhi in association with the Habitat Film Club, the festival will feature a diverse mix of films specially selected to showcase Singapore’s creative talents. Each film will be followed by a dialogue with the filmmaker in attendance.Entry is open to public and free on a first-come-first-served basis.

The festival opens on 5th August with ‘7 Letters’ – Singapore’s official entry to the Oscars Best Foreign Language Film category this year. The film features seven of Singapore’s top filmmakers who made seven short films, or ‘love letters’, on what Singapore means to them. They include award-winning filmmakers Eric Khoo and Boo Junfeng, whose film ‘The Apprentice’showed in the Un Certain Regard section at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The screening will be followed by a dialogue with filmmaker K Rajagopal, whose offering in ‘7 Letters’ focuses on the Indian migrant experience in Singapore. Rajagopal remains Singapore’s main artiste who makes films with an Indian perspective. His latest film ‘The Yellow Bird’ on a Singaporean Indian ex-convict showed at the International Critics’ Week of this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

‘Singapore Minstrel’, a film on Singapore’s street performers, screens on 6th August. The film revolves around Roy Payamal, a veteran Singaporean busker of Indian origin. Directed by his romantic partner Ng Xi Jie, the film dives deep into Payamal’s life and art. It defies genres in its fluid use of documentary and fictional elements – from interviews tore-enactments of events to raw footage of everyday life, which Payamal captures on his mobile phone. The screening will be followed by a dialogue with Payamal and Ng, herself a multidisciplinary artist who works in the fields of performance, literature, illustration and cinema.

The festival concludes on 7th August with ‘Utter’ – a series of three animation shorts based on three literary works by Singapore authors. The film premiered at the Singapore Writers’ Festival 2015 to critical acclaim. Two of the animated films – ‘The Great Escape’ by Tan Wei Keong and ‘The Tiger of 142B’ by Harry and Henry Zhuang – have been selected to compete in renowned international animation festivals. The screening will be followed by a workshop by internationally-celebrated animation artist Tan Wei Keong, who will speak on Singapore’s animation industry and his creative process and craftsmanship.

Kester Tay, festival programmer and First Secretary at the Singapore High Commission said: “In India, Singapore carries an image of a cosmopolitan, technology-enabled nation. Through the Singapore Film Festival, we hope to show a softer and artistic side of our country. We have come a long way as a young, migrant nation and have many unique stories to tell. We hope they would touch Indian audiences and deepen understanding between our cultures.”

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Film Schedule and Synopses

‘7 Letters’ (2015), 116 min
Languages: English, Malay, Mandarin, Tamil, Hokkien, Cantonese
Friday 5th August 2016 | 7.00pm | Stein Auditorium, India Habitat Centre, Delhi
Screening will be followed by a dialogue with director K. Rajagopal

‘7 Letters’ features seven short films by seven of Singapore's most well-known and illustrious filmmakers. The films present seven ‘love letters’ to Singapore, capturing each filmmaker’s personal connection with the place they call home. They show what Singapore means to them through tales of lost love, identity, inter-generational familial bonds and tensions, unlikely neighbours, and traditional folklore. The film was released in Singapore in July 2015 in conjunction with the country’s 50th anniversary of independence to sold-out audiences.A summary of the 7 shorts are below.

‘Cinema’ by Eric Khoo
Languages: Bahasa, English, Mandarin

Eric Khoo trains his eye on the Golden Age of Malay cinema in Singapore in this poignant opening short. Like manyof Khoo’s previous works, ‘Cinema’ reflects his nostalgia for the past and pays tribute to Singapore’s film traditions and history and folk stories. Khoo’s short is amovie within a movie with parallel stories that ultimately converge. Music plays a big part just as it did in films in the 1950s. In particular, the short features a haunting song sung by lead actress Nadiah which harks back to the songs sung by legendary Singaporean songstress from the late 1950s, Salmah Ismail.

‘That Girl’ by Jack Neo
Languages: Hokkien, Cantonese, Mandarin

Box-office-hit-maker Jack Neo carries on the nostalgic mood with a heart-warming story about first loves. He brings us back to Singapore in the 1970s. Set in a kampong (‘village’ in Malay), the short film follows 12-year-old Cai Yun whose infatuation with classmate Ah Shum gets her into trouble with her parents.

‘The Flame’ by K. Rajogopal
Language: Tamil

K Rajagopal’s very personal ‘The Flame’ tells the story of his parent’s life-changing decision to stay in Singapore following the British’s withdrawal from the newly independent country. Intimate and solemn, this short goes beyond the subject of immigration, touching on racial cohesion within a familial setting.

‘Bunga Sayang’ (Flower of Love) by Royston Tan
Languages: Malay, Mandarin, English

‘Bunga Sayang’ is a mini musical extravaganza involving a Chinese boy and his Malay auntie neighbour. It tells a touching story about how two different individuals bond through music, and serves as a reminder to be neighbourly.

‘Pineapple Town’ by Tan Pin Pin
Languages: Mandarin, English

Tan Pin Pin brings her interest inthe search for personal histories and roots to this short film. The central character, Ning, is a reflection of Tan and her cinematic practice, playing the documenteur in search of the truth and uncovering answers for her child. Ning is adamant on meeting the birth mother of her adopted daughter, a search that takes her to a small town in Malaysia.

‘Parting’ by Boo Junfeng
Languages: Malay, English, Mandarin

‘Parting’ exploresthe themes of history, memory and aging. It follows Ismail, who travels back to Singapore by train from Malaysia in search of his lost love. Unaware of how much Singapore has changed, Ismail’s search for his former beau leads him to the now-defunct Tanjong Pagar Railway Station where he meets his younger self.

‘Grandma Positioning System (GPS)’ by Kelvin Tong
Languages: Hokkien, Mandarin, English

Departing from his usual horror genre, Kelvin Tong explores historical consciousness, family traditions and shared memories in ‘Grandma Positioning System (GPS)’. The short tells the story of a young Singaporean Chinese boy who travels with his family to Malaysia each year during Qing Ming (Chinese ancestral festival) to pay respects to his late grandfather. The boy’s grandmother insists on describing the changes in Singapore to her late husband during every visit, much to the chagrin of her family. However, the boy’s actions during one visit surprises the family and changes their perspective forever.

‘Singapore Minstrel’ (2015), 87 min
Language: English
Saturday6th August 2016 | 7.00pm | Stein Auditorium, India Habitat Centre, Delhi
Screening will be followed by a dialogue with director Ng Xi Jie and central character Roy Payamal

‘Singapore Minstrel’ offers a preciously personal look at Roy Payamal, an enigmatic figure within the field of busking who has been practicing his art since the 1980s with ceaseless conviction amidst a generally apathetic society.

The documentary gradually expands its gaze to the wider community of street performers in Singapore, providing us with candid looks into their personalities. In the process, a discourse on artistic expression and the purpose of busking unfolds.

In its fluid use of a variety filmic elements – from interviews, Payamal’s personal handphone video recordings of his wanderings, recreations of past events with intricate DIY bedroom set pieces, to footages of buskers and the people that cross their paths – Singapore Minstrel harbours an inclusive sensibility that illuminates a very real form of bohemia that exists on our streets.

‘Utter’ (2015)‘Utter’ (2015)
Language: English
Sunday7th August 2016 | 7.00pm | Gulmohar Hall, India Habitat Centre, Delhi

Screening will be followed by a workshop by animation artist Tan Wei Keong

‘Utter’ showcases the best of Singapore writing and celebrates its potential to be adapted into different art forms. The film features three animated short films adapted from short stories and poems by Singapore writers. These texts are brought from page to screen by established and emerging Singaporean animators.

‘The Tiger of 142b’ by Henry and Harry Zhuang (based on a short story written by Dave Chua), 11 min

‘The Tiger of 142b’explores the life of Kevin, an unemployed man whose relationship with his girlfriend is deteriorating due to communication issues. Things turn shaky when people start to pin the mysterious murders of residents on a tiger.

‘The Fat Cat Ate Dad's Hat’by Darran Kuah (based on a short story written by Vanessa Ng), 9 min 38 sec

‘The Fat Cat Ate Dad’s Hat’ looks at a cat's nine lives through the cat’s own eyes. Connected by the soul of a single cat in different bodies at times, the feline reminisces its nine lives through happy and tragic experiences with both humans and cats alike.

‘The Great Escape’ by Tan Wei Keong (based on a poem by Alfian Sa’at), 6 Min

This quirky short film explores the relationship between two men and their little olive tree.

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