Movie Feature

SGIFF 2015 sets its sights on independent Asian cinema

By Zaki JufriMovies - 20 October 2015 12:00 PM | Updated 21 March 2016

SGIFF 2015 sets its sights on independent Asian cinema

Its 2014 rebirth was a resounding success, with film luminaries like John Woo and celebrities like Juliette Binoche, Zhang Ziyi and Tong Dawei walking the red carpet, sold-out screenings and cinephiles getting excited about the slew of Singapore-made films.

Hot on the heels of last year’s feat, the team at Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) will present movie lovers with a line-up that focuses on Asian independent cinema comprising 146 feature and short films from 51 countries that run the gamut from thrillers and documentaries to comedies and dramas for its 2015 edition.

The 10-day festival runs from 26 November to 6 December, taking place across various venues, including Marina Bay Sands, National Museum of Singapore, Shaw Theatres Lido, National Gallery Singapore, The Arts House, The Projector and The Substation. 

Taiwanese film ‘Panay’, directed inter-ethnic duo Cheng Yu-Chieh and Lekai Sumi, will open the festival on 26 November. Winner of the Audience Choice Award at the Taipei Film Festival, the movie casts an eye on Taiwan’s indigenous tribes’ current predicaments on land rights. 

After premiering in Cannes this year, movie fans will get to see 2010 Palme d’Or winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s ‘Cemetary of Splendour’ and Jia Zhangke’s ‘Mountains May Depart’. 

The Thai filmmaker’s latest movie revolves around a unit of soldiers afflicted by an epidemic of a mysterious sleeping sickness while Jia’s feature is an ambitious decades-spanning drama that examines how China's economic boom has affected the bonds of family, tradition, and love.

We are now at the crossroads of a very exciting time for independent cinema and SGIFF meets the growing demand by bringing together a rich mix of filmmakers and showcasing their works," said festival director Zhang Wenjie.


'In The Room' trailer

Also exciting is the lineup of Singapore films that are premiering during SGIFF. Eric Khoo’s much-talked-about erotic omnibus ‘In The Room’ will finally be shown here in a special presentation.

The S$1 million film, which comprises six stories set in the same hotel room boasts an eclectic cast that includes Singapore-based actors George Young, Daniel Jenkins and Koh Boon Pin, Korea’s Choi Woo-shik and Kim Kkobbi, Thai actor Aeaw, Japanese adult film actress Shou Nishino, Hong Kong’s Josie Ho.

The much-anticipated Singapore Panorama section will feature five full-length features and eight short films. One of Singapore's more prolific independent directors Kan Lume will debut his latest feature the controversial and award-winning doc ‘The Naked DJ’. It follows DJ and rocker X’Hoon his travels to China, during which he reflects upon his Chinese roots, and in the process upon his homeland Singapore.

MORE: Films banned in Singapore

'Singapore Minstrel' trailer

Artist and filmmaker Ng Xi Jie will present ‘Singapore Minstrel’, a documentary on one of Singapore’s most recognizable buskers, Roy Payamal. 

Sanif Olek’s long-gestating psychological thriller ‘Voluptas’, starring Aaron Aziz, Ariati Tyeb Papar and Suhaillah Salam will finally be released during the fest. The 45-year-old filmmaker’s previous feature ‘Sayang Disayang’ was selected as the Singapore entrant for this year’s Oscars for the Foreign Film category.

MORE: Interview with filmmaker Sanif Olek

'The Lobster' trailer

Other films include Michel Gondry’s ‘Microbe and Gasoline’, Yorgos Lanthimos’ dystopian comedy ‘The Lobster’, starring Rachel Weisz and Colin Farrell and Matthew Brown’s ‘The Man Who Knew Infinity’, a biopic on an India-born mathematical prodigy starring Dev Patel and Jeremy Irons.

The festival will also spotlight Mexican cinema with films by Gabriel Ripstein (‘600 Miles’) and Javier Espada (‘Following Nazarin’), and independent Chinese documentaries curated by Beijing film critic Zhang Yaxuan.


A new addition to SGIFF this year is the Future of Cinema Forum. For its inaugural session, moderator Tan Pin Pin will touch on digital distribution, online platforms and new ways of marketing and branding films with speakers that include Vimeo’s Peter Gerard, Malaysian filmmaker James Lee and BananaMana Films’ Christian Lee and Jason Chan. 

MORE: SGIFF 2015 honours Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf

The festival will also provide movie lovers with the opportunity to learn first-hand from the directors-in-attendance and guest filmmakers such as Weerasethakul, producer Terence Chang (‘Mission: Impossible 2’, ‘The Crossing’), and celebrated Iranian auteur Mohsen Makhmalbaf as they share their experiences and insights at various masterclasses and talks.

Previously announced, the festival will pay tribute to Makhmalbaf. It also introduces a new ‘Cinema Legend’ award which, which honours an Asian actor who has made a significant impact on his/her craft, and will be presented to Michelle Yeoh.

Ticket sales for SGIFF will begin 21 October 2015 via Sistic