JOHN LUI AND BOON CHAN RECOMMEND

Film picks: National Gallery, Southeast Asian Film Festival, Black Souls and more

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NATIONAL GALLERY (M18)

180 minutes

The Projector cinema is living up to its promise to screen first run titles, in addition to bringing classics back. Starting this week, it is screening a new work, National Gallery, by revered American documentary-maker Frederick Wiseman.

For four decades, Wiseman has gained fame for embedding himself inside an organisation - a boxing gym, a ballet troupe, a high school, a zoo - to make fly-on-the-wall documentaries that carry no narration, no interviews and very little textual information, relying on only images and contextual sound to give information.

This look at the famed art museum in London will immerse the viewer in a world in which staff wring their hands over budgets and worry about diluting the gallery's mission with popular but shallow shows; and where docents make schoolchildren excited about Titian, Turner and Stubbs.

With its three-hour runtime, you might need extra cushions and a warm jacket, but it will be worth the tour.

Where: The Projector, 05-00 Golden Mile Tower, 6001 Beach Road MRT: Nicoll Highway When: Now showing Admission: $13 from www.theprojector.sg or at the lobby (Tue - Sun, from 4pm, closed on Mon)

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SOUTHEAST ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL

Cult movie aficionado Andrew Leavold used to own a video rental store called Trash Video - that should give you a hint about where his preferences lie.

In the 1990s, the Australian saw a Filipino film featuring a dwarf James Bond character. The result is The Search For Weng Weng (2013, 96 minutes, PG13), a documentary which sees Leavold shining a light on the weird and wonderful world of Filipino trash cinema. He will speak after the screening.

Closing film Nova (2014, Malaysia, 106 minutes, NC16, right above) is about a film-maker. While this is usually a ticket to self-indulgence, the curators have picked this film as an example of how Asian film-makers are turning to genres such as road comedy to discuss issues of the day.

Writer-director Nik Amir Mustapha's characters are a group of friends who go on the road to work out what happened on the day they saw strange lights in the sky.

Where: Moving Image Gallery, Level 2, SAM at 8Q, 8 Queen Street MRT: Bras Basah When: Till May 3, various timings Admission: $10 from Sistic (go to www.sistic.com.sg or call 6348-5555) Info: For the full schedule, go to www.singaporeartmuseum.sg/seaff

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BLACK SOULS (NC16)

103 minutes

Ancient slights and long-simmering feuds bubble under the surface in this vengeance play set in the beautiful mountains of the Italian south. Louis (Marco Leonardi) is a drug dealer whose earnings fund older brother Rocco (Peppino Mazzotta) in his Milanese construction business. But eldest brother Luciano (Fabrizio Ferracane) has turned his back on his family's criminal legacy. becoming a farmer in their ancestral hometown of Africo, in rural Calabria.

Director Francesco Munzi lets his characters breathe, filling the screen with anthropological detail and letting the viewer be steeped in the music, food, vistas and timeless rhythms of agricultural life. Screened as part of the Italian Film Festival.

Where: The Cathay Cineplex MRT: Dhoby Ghaut/Bras Basah When: Today, 9.15pm, & Mon, 7.15pm Admission: $13 Info: www.cathaycineplexes.com.sg

John Lui

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SINGAPORE CHINESE FILM FESTIVAL 2015

Black Coal, Thin Ice is a noirish thriller from China writer-director Diao Yinan.

A detective (Liao Fan) investigates a series of grisly murders in which the dismembered parts of the victims are hidden in coal shipments and dispersed across wintry northern China.

He discovers that a common link among the cases is the receptionist (Gwei Lun-mei, right) at a dry cleaner's. What is her connection to the murders? Is she a femme fatale or a victim?

The film won the prestigious Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival last February and Liao won the Silver Bear for Best Actor.

It is one of 40 films being screened as part of the two-week-long Singapore Chinese Film Festival.

A key highlight is the classics retrospective programme and the spotlight this year is on Lee Hsing, who has been called the father of Taiwanese cinema by film critic Peggy Chiao.

Where: Various MRT: Various When: April 17 - 30 Admission: $13 a screening for the public, $10 for Singapore Film Society & UniSIM members. Tickets from Golden Village (www.gv.com.sg) & Sistic (www.sistic.com.sg) Info: www.sfs.org.sg/scff

Boon Chan