30th Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) had its red-carpet premiere at the Capitol Theatre on Thursday 21 November 2019. SGIFF celebrates its 30th anniversary with a tasteful line-up of strong narratives and film personalities. A leading international film festival in the region and part of the Singapore Media Festival (SMF), SGIFF will present a dynamic array of over 90 films by auteurs from 40 countries that take the pulse of Asian and international cinema.

17 Singapore films have been selected for screening at the Festival, with four shorts nominated for the Silver Screen Awards’ Southeast Asian Short Film competition, including ADAM (2019) by Shoki Lin as well as Jerrold Chong and Huang Junxiang’s Piece of Meat (2019), which premiered at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. The Singapore Panorama section will feature five features and five shorts, including the Southeast Asian premiere of the first two episodes of Invisible Stories (2019) by Ler Jiyuan for HBO Asia on the untold stories from the heartlands in Singapore, and the world premiere of Unteachable (2019) by Yong Shu Ling who spotlights the country’s results-oriented education system.

In addition, the Festival will present Special Programme: Contemporary Vietnamese Shorts that reveal Vietnam’s diverse talents and growing role in shaping the Asian film landscape under the Asian Vision section. This includes short/cut (2019) by filmmaker Ostin Fam, a recipient of the SGIFF Southeast Asian-Short Film Grant (SEA-SHORTS) under the inaugural SGIFF Film Fund, and Blessed Land (2019) by Pham Ngoc Lan, an alumnus of the Festival’s Southeast Asian Film Lab.

Other strong narratives include 56th Golden Horse Awards contender A Sun (2019) by Taiwanese director Chung Mong-Hong, and Coming Home Again (2019) by Hong Kong-born American director Wayne Wang; country-nominated films for the 2020 Oscars such as Columbian co-production, Monos (2019) by Alejandro Landes, debut feature of French filmmaker, Ladj Ly’s Les Misérables(2019), and And Then We Danced(2019) by Levan Akin.

Film lovers can also revisit two modern gems by Asian masters and delight in the legacy of cinema with our Classics section. This include Memories of Murder (2003) by Palme d’Or winning director Bong Joon-Ho, which traces his masterful blend of genre and social observations; and the newly-restored Flowers of Shanghai (1998) by Asian legend Hou Hsiao-Hsien that rightfully demands its place on the big screen with its delicate storyline and breath-taking cinematography with scenes lit only by period oil lamps.

In addition to Wet Season (2019) by Anthony Chen as the opening film, the Special Presentations section includes Downton Abbey (2019) directed by American filmmaker Michael Engler with screenplay by Julian Fellowes. Starring Michelle Dockery, Maggie Smith and Joanne Froggatt, the film will see the Crawley family from the beloved series hit the big screen to prepare for the most important moment of their lives. Myanmar-born, Taiwanese filmmaker Midi Z returns to the SGIFF since The Road to Mandalay (2016) with his latest acclaimed psychological thriller, Nina Wu (2019). The film with eight nominations at the 56th Golden Horse Awards stars Taiwanese actresses, Wu Ke-xi, Hsia Yu-chiao, and Sung Yu-hua, and is a timely exploration of the dangerous games played in a competitive field of filmmaking. Joanne Froggatt from Downton Abbey as well as Nina Wu’s Director, Midi Z, and actresses Wu Ke-xi and Hsia Yu-chiao will be gracing the red carpet during the film premieres on 22 November and 24 November respectively at the Capitol Theatre.

To commemorate the Festival’s landmark edition, it will also close with a 30th Anniversary Special Presentation screening of The Truth by Palme d’Or Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda on 1 December. Kore-eda’s first film out of Japan, this latest feature presents a unique taste of France as it tells the story of prima donna actress Fabienne (played by Catherine Deneuve) whose newly published memoirs are challenged by her daughter, Lumir (played by Juliette Binoche).

This year, SGIFF has included a short film concerning the LGBTQ community as well. The commissioned short film is directed by renowned Thai director Anucha Boonyawatana. On conversation with Anucha, the Thai independent film director and also founder of G-Motif Production, one of the largest video production company in Thailand, Pravasi Express asked her what gives Thai movies the edge in comparison with the big budget Korean and Chinese movies, she replied it’s the boldness of Thai films to speak up on societal issues like LGBTQ discrimination and other subjects that sets them apart.

Needless to say, this year’s festival is one to not miss!

Tickets to the 30th Singapore International Film Festival started sale from 23 October on www.SGIFF.com, www.sistic.com.sg, hotline at +65 6348 5555 and all SISTIC outlets.

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Associate Editor, Pravasi Express Singapore | Dr. Sreyus Palliyani is an acclaimed author, actor, urban policy scholar and martial artist. He is an expert at Okinawan Shorin Ryu Karate, Kobudo and Taekwondo. A black belt, practitioner and teacher for 20 years, he ranks martial arts as one of his two greatest passions. He penned his first conspiracy fiction thriller Gabriati: The rise of the Preceptor at the age of 24. His second book, "The Write Stuff" is a collaboration with many prominent writers from the U.A.E. He has also acted in numerous short films which includes A Woman's Heart (2019), Duty (2019), the documentary Awakening (2019) and the award winning feature film Kathaah@8 (2019). He graduated from the Government Engineering College Thrissur and later obtained his Masters from the National University of Singapore. He has worked with the Governments of Middle East and Singapore as a Transport Expert. Sreyus currently resides in Singapore. He is a Global Transport Policy expert with a PhD from the National University of Singapore.