Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Singapore International Film Festival 2009

Having attended other film festivals which I have thoroughly enjoyed, the SIFF still holds a special place for me because hey, it's homegrown, it's with local flavour, and it costs only a bus/train/cab fare to get to the venues. As per any festival, part of the fun comes from the hair-tearing moments to decide just what to watch given all the clashes, and having to sometimes leave it to chance to pick one out of the many screened during the same time at different venues all around town.

Once that's done then depending if you qualify for those early bird discounts, you'll have to cross your fingers that the shows you have on your list, are not all sold out by the time general sales begin. Of course there may be a chance that those that are sold out will have another screening, but that's just another spanner thrown into your nicely planned schedule, isn't it?

Click Here for the festival schedule, and ticketing details!

Gripes aside, the Singapore Panorama feature films seemed to have shrunk this year, from the bumper crop of 13 last year. In this edition, we're going to get to watch Brother No.2 (Jason Lai), Female Games (Kan Lume, making it 4 films in a row in SIFF, trailer can be found here), Invisible Children (Brian Gothong Tan, Excerpt 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. The film was screened at last year's BKIFF and Wise Kwai has a review), This Too Shall Pass (Ang Aik Heng), and White Days (Looi Wan Pin). Alec Tok's A Big Road is in Competition for the Silver Screen Awards - Asia Feature Film Competition though, so it doesn't fall under this section.

While Sinema Old School was the one-stop venue of choice for the Singapore Panorama, this edition unfortunately relegates the most of the section to the Substation. Curiously, with most being world premiere, I thought there should be some confidence that a larger venue would sell out, unless of course more screenings are planned and the schedule isn't finalized. Speaking of which, imagine all single and only screenings of Female Games, A Big Road and one of the Invisible Children screenings all having to fall on the same day at the same time slot at different venues. So take your pick, Singapore. :(

Sinema Old School now becomes the venue of choice for re-runs from last year. Granted these films are now in competition of sorts for the inaugural Singapore Film Awards. For the first time we have a film awards dedicated to the celebration of local films in the various categories mentioned. Previously the local films would have to compete with the rest in competition for the Silver Screen Awards if they're deemed worthy, but here's a special category for them all to slug it out. Films at least 60 minutes in length, and completed and screened in the previous calendar year are eligible for nomination, and all films will be screened again during the festival (I wonder if Rule #1 has a fat chance to be screened in Cantonese?) Here are the nominees, and having watched them all already, I shall stick my neck out to root for the one which I think is worthy of triumphing over the rest.

Nominees for Best Film
A Nutshell Prediction: 18 Grams of Love. My review should already explain why.

Nominees for Best Director
12 LOTUS: Royston Tan
18 GRAMS OF LOVE: Han Yew Kwang
RULE #1: Kelvin Tong
A Nutshell Prediction: Han Yew Kwang. Again, I heart the film, and it's time for someone to break the stranglehold on the household names already, given the merits of 18 Grams.

Nominees for Best Screenplay
18 GRAMS OF LOVE: Han Yew Kwang
HASHI: Sherman Ong
RULE #1: Kelvin Tong
A Nutshell Prediction: Han Yew Kwang. Rule #1 had shades of other films like Fallen and Suicide Club, and I guess 18 Grams will face a tough fight with Hashi. But my choice will be for Han's story - watch the films, and you'll know feel why it should walk away with the prize.

Nominees for Best Performance
12 LOTUS: Liu Ling Ling
12 LOTUS: Qi Yu Wu
LUCKY7: Sunny Pang
A Nutshell Prediction: Sunny Pang. C'mon, surely you have to award Sunny for taking on no less than 7 different roles according to the whims and fancies of each director in that exquisite-corpse film Lucky 7.

Nominees for Best Cinematography
12 LOTUS: Alan Yap
THE DAYS: John Lim Beng Huat
LUCKY7: Roszali Samad, Brian Gothong Tan, Sharon Loh, Jaye Neo, Cain Chui, Andrew Mark Sobrielo, Chris Yeo Siew Hua, Adrian Lo
A Nutshell Prediction: The Days. Unless it's about the size of the participants, I still feel that it's gonna be a fight between 12 Lotus and The Days. It's tough, but I feel the latter has an edge because the former was a shade of 881.

The above might seem slanted toward 18 Grams of Love, but hey, that's my personal opinion from what I've watched, and my gut feel, unless of course like the Venice Lion, no film can win in more than One category, then I'll be off the mark.

Back to planning what to watch! What's your choice?

Related Links
- Singapore International Film Festival Official Website
- Wise Kwai provides an excellent writeup on Thai Film offerings in this year's SIFF!

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