Worldwide icon-chevron-right Asia icon-chevron-right Singapore icon-chevron-right The guide to Singapore International Film Festival 2019

The guide to Singapore International Film Festival 2019

The 30th Singapore International Film Festival champions Asia's imaginative styles of storytelling through cinema

Wet Season
Photo: Giraffe Pictures

Back for its 30th year, Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) champions emerging local and regional filmmakers while honouring the artistry and impact of Asian cinema. This year, the spotlight shines on stories that unearth another layer of life in Southeast Asia, from ancient folklore to political pasts. The festival also goes beyond Asia to showcase titles from Europe and USA. Not limited to screenings, film buffs can partake in masterclasses and dialogues with attending filmmakers. As the festival returns from November 29 to December 1, we take a look at five highlights to look forward to.

RECOMMENDED: The best local films to watch and the best independent and alternative cinemas in Singapore


Wet Season
Photo: Giraffe Pictures

Opening Film: Wet Season

November 21

The festival opens its curtains with Wet Season, the highly anticipated second feature film by the man who brought you the acclaimed drama Ilo Ilo – Anthony Chen. The Singaporean writer-director explores the complex relationships between a Mandarin teacher and her student, as well as those in their respective lives. The former bears the burden of failing to bear a child for her often-absent husband, while the latter provides her with the solace that reaffirms her womanhood. With six nominations in this year’s Golden Horse Awards and a spot at the Toronto International Film Festival, Wet Season is definitely one to watch. Do expect plenty of rain scenes – it's set during the monsoon season, after all.

Capitol Theatre, 8pm. Tickets start from $25.

Incantation by Yeo Siew Hua
Photo: 30th SGIFF

30th SGIFF Festival Commission

November 21

Delve further into the cinematic world of Southeast Asia with three short films based on the theme of celebration. Local director Yeo Siew Hua resurrects age-old rituals of ancient spells, spirits, and superstitions in Incantation. Indonesian director Mouly Surya reveals gender roles in today's society with humour through a traditional wedding in Something Old, New, Borrowed and Blue, while Thai director Anucha Boonyawatana's Not A Time to Celebrate is a cheeky take on the realities of filmmaking.

Capitol Theatre, 8pm. Tickets start from $25.

Downton Abbey
Photo: Liam Daniel

Special Presentation at SGIFF

November 22

The worldwide phenom that is Downton Abbey is going from TV screen to silver screen at SGIFF. The film follows the beloved Crawleys and their intrepid staff as they gear up for a royal visit. But shaken up with scandal, romance, and intrigue, Downton might just find itself in a bit of a pickle. Here's another surprise – Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt, who plays the lady's maid Anna Batesis, set to make a special appearance at this exclusive presentation.

Capitol Theatre, 8pm.


Myth, Dreamscape and Memory in Southeast Asian Cinema

November 23-25

Traverse through the imaginative minds of Southeast Asian filmmakers with four films that cleverly show various unique storytelling styles. A Short Film About the Indio Nacional (2005) keeps dialogue at a minimal as it illustrates the political and cultural past of the Phillippines. Lucky7 (2008) is a seven shorts-combo that uses the art of exquisite corpse, so settle in for a surprise. Mysterious Object at Noon (2000), on the other hand, takes you through Thailand with a tapestry of subjective stories. The Missing Picture (2013) then demonstrates the life of filmmaker Rithy Panh under the former Cambodian prime minister Pol Pot's regime.

Filmgarde Bugis+, various timings. $13.

Barney Burman
Photo: Singapore International Film Festival

In Conversation: Barney Burman

November 23

Stay after the screening of J.J. Abrams' take of Star Trek for one of the leading make-up effects artists in Hollywood, Barney Burman. His work on Star Trek bagged him an Academy Award in 2009. To let you in on his secrets (or maybe just some top tips), Barney is discussing his work, the demands and practices of high-end studio production, and the significance of make-up effects to bring characters to life.

The Projector, 7pm. Tickets start from $5.

Anurag Kashyap
Photo: Anurag Kashyap

Storytelling Through Episodes

November 24

Most of us get our TV fix from Video-On-Demand and subscription-based platforms. We often find ourselves binge-watching complete seasons or discussing on-going series with friends. There's no denying that episodic content has become central to our current viewing experience. Here to shed some light on this are five distinguished guests – Anurag Kashyap, Ler Jiyuan, Erika North, Ekachai Uekrongtham and Tanya Yuson – who are sharing their transitions from feature films to episodic narrative, and what deviations and reinventions this offers to on-screen storytelling.

Oldham Theatre, 11am. $5.

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