Deciding what to watch during a film festival is always rather challenging, especially if you’re not familiar with the films and directors on tap, and if there are hundreds of films to choose from.
It requires a fair amount to read through the Singapore International Film Festival (SIFF) schedule, currently available online, and make sense of what’s up your alley.
What probably stands out to most casual observers are the opening film (Mao’s Last Dancer, by director-in-focus Bruce Beresford) and closing film (Dear Doctor), as well as big-name films such as the Nordic-German thriller, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
With tickets going on sale today, 26 March, through Sistic, inSing.com recommends a list of ten movies to watch at the festival, in no particular order.
1. La danse
Documentary about the production of seven ballets by the renowned Paris Opera Ballet. Allows the viewer to get up close and personal with great performers; hailed by some critics as one of the best-ever films about dance.
2. Rudo y Cursi
A smash hit at the Mexican box office, this soccer comedy-drama produced by Alfonso Cuaron, and written and directed by his brother Carlos, reunites Y tu mama tambien stars Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna.
3. La mujer sin cabeza (The Headless Woman)
Produced by Pedro Almodovar, written and directed by Lucretia Martel, this Argentine feature was a Cannes best film nominee in 2008. About a middle-aged woman who fears she has killed something with her car and suffers a mysterious mental breakdown.
4. Quanto Dura o Amor? (Paulista)
Brazilian film about three young people living and seeking love in Sao Paulo. The second film of director Roberto Moreira is focused on a young actress seeking her fortunes in the big city, and the romantic pursuits of her flatmate and neighbour.
An ambitious English-language project by acclaimed Swedish director Lukas Moodysson, whose films such as Lilya 4-ever have regularly featured at the SIFF. Stars Michelle Williams and Gael Garcia Bernal as a couple whose lives are irrevocably changed when he goes on a fateful business trip to Thailand.
Reminiscent of Japanese shut-in cases, such as that featured in the omnibus film Tokyo! last year, this film is about an emotionally scarred man who vows never to leave his apartment. He is able to live cocooned for four years, before a girl comes into his life.
7. Shake Hands with the Devil
Documentary based on the autobiography of Romeo Dallaire, the Canadian military leader who was the commander of UN coalition forces in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. Recalls Dallaire’s own harrowing experiences and how his appeals for help fell upon deaf ears.
Shake Hands with the Devil
8. His & Hers
Irish documentary in the SIFF’s Women in Film programme features the perspectives of 70 women, young and old, through whom we learn about the universality of shared experiences. There is talk of life and death, growing older, and relations between the sexes. Variety magazine called this film ‘delightful’.
9. Memories of a Burning Tree
A film by Malaysian filmmaker Sherman Ong, a fixture on the Singapore scene, which was created when he went to Tanzania on a commission from the Rotterdam International Film Festival. An improvised film that started with no real script or professional actors.
10. 40-ci qapi (The 40th Door)
Drama fro Azerbaijan is about a young boy moves to the city of Baku after his father is killed by the Russian mafia, who are also after him. He dreams of becoming a musician and finds unlikely allies in some shady characters, who involve him in petty crimes to help make ends meet.
Memories of a Burning Tree
40-ci qapi (The 40th Door)
Tickets for films at the SIFF $10 each, with tickets to the opening and closing films at $20 each. Prices exclude the $1 Sistic booking fee.