Cinephiles, rejoice. The Singapore International Film Festival returns after a two-year break with a bumper crop of 147 films, with something for viewers of every taste.
The festival runs from 4 to 14 December and screenings will take place in venues around Singapore such as Marina Bay Sands, Shaw Theatres Lido, National Museum of Singapore, The Projector (formerly Golden Theatre in Golden Mile Tower) and The Arts House.
For those who just cannot decide when flooded with options, we’re here to help.
Here are six films you absolutely cannot miss.
'Journey to the West'
Taiwanese auteur Tsai Ming Liang returns with this meditative instalment in his ‘Walker’ series. Loosely based on the classical Chinese story by Wu Cheng’en, this groundbreaking new interpretation brings the legendary pilgrimage of a Buddhist monk into the contemporary realm.
Frequent collaborator Lee Kang-Sheng plays the red-robed Buddhist monk as he inches slowly across a French city. French thespian Denis Lavant tries to follow the monk’s snail’s pace and the results both fill you with wonder and test your patience.
Date: 30 Nov | Time: 1.30pm | Venue: The Salon, National Museum of Singapore, 93 Stamford Road | Free admission
Given that his last feature ‘Sex.Violence.Familyvalues’ was banned, then unbanned, Singapore filmmakers had doubts that Ken Kwek's latest film ‘Unlucky Plaza’ will pass the censors. Well, the film did, with an M18 rating.
This opening film of the festival, a black comedy, stars Filipino actor Epy Quizon as a financially challenged man who takes a group of people hostage in a millionaire's bungalow.
MORE: Homegrown films aplenty at Singapore International Film Festival
Rounding up the cast are Singaporean thespians Adrian Pang, Judee Tan, Janice Koh and Pamela Oei.
Date: 4 Dec | Time: 6.45pm | Venue: Shaw Lido 1, Shaw House, Levels 5 & 6, 350 Orchard Road | Tickets: $25 from Sistic
Most are familiar with his Hong Kong action classics such as ‘Hard Boiled’ or his Hollywood success ‘Face/Off’, but John Woo is tackling a romantic-drama in ‘The Crossing’. The first of a two-part epic, ‘The Crossing’ promises to be Woo's most ambitious film yet with the two-part story chronicling three couples from different backgrounds who make a fateful voyage on a ship fleeing China to Taiwan in the heart of the Chinese Revolution in 1949. The movie stars Zhang Ziyi, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Song Hye-kyo and Masami Nagasawa. The film will receive a special gala screening at the festival, and Woo will also be in attendance.
Date: 4 Dec | Time: 9.45pm | Venue: Shaw Lido 1 | Tickets: $15 from Sistic
'Clouds of Sils Maria'
French director Olivier Assayas conjures up one of his most meta-fiction films ever, powered by three female lead actresses. 'Twilight' star Kristen Stewart takes on the role of Val, American assistant to a superstar actress Maria Enders, played by Juliette Binoche. Maria is at a career crossroads, bored of making the occasional Hollywood blockbuster, and the European arthouse hits are few and far between. She is faced with the dilemma of whether to accept a part in the revival of the play that made her famous. The problem? This time, she has been asked to essay the role of the older woman, not the ingenue. She faces off with a younger version of herself (Chloe Grace Moretz), and of course, friction comes into play.
Date: 5 Dec | Time: 9.15pm | Venue: Shaw Lido 4 | Tickets: $12 from Sistic
Cinephiles will get a chance to catch the work of one of cinema’s most accomplished filmmakers. 'Winter Sleep' by Turkish auteur and Cannes’ regular Nuri Bilge Ceylan is the winner of this year’s Palme d’Or, the movie being a contemplative character study on male pride and its consequences. Haluk Bilginer plays erstwhile actor-turned-innkeeper Aydin in remote Cappadocia. As the weather turns, so does Aydin, revealing himself as a megalomaniac and an object of scorn and increasing derision by those around him. Ceylan has been a Cannes favourite since he began making movies in the 1990s, winning the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes for ‘Distant’ (2002) and ‘Once Upon a Time in Anatolia’ (2011), as well as the Best Director Prize for ‘Three Monkeys’ (2008).
Date: 14 Dec | Time: 2pm | Venue: Shaw Lido 4 | Tickets: $12 from Sistic
Im Kwon-taek is perhaps one of Korean’s most prolific filmmakers, and ‘Revivre (Hwajang)’ is his 102nd film. Here, the auteur reunites with veteran actor Ahn Sung-Ki, who plays the chief executive of a cosmetics company. Adapted from a short story by South Korean writer Kim Hoon, the movie looks at the emotions of a man who finds himself caught between staying faithful to his dying wife or charming his new employee. ‘Revivre’ is one of three films (with ‘Mandala’ and ‘Village in The Mist’) in a special section at the festival that pays tribute to the father of modern Korean cinema. The filmmaker will also be in attendance at the screenings.
Date: 14 Dec | Time: 2pm | Venue: National Museum of Singapore | Tickets: $12 from Sistic
Zaki Jufri writes about the arts, entertainment, film and other stuff for inSing.com