Local film-makers in spotlight at Singapore International Film Festival

Singaporean film-makers (from left) K. Rajagopal, Abdul Nizam and Gladys Ng will be in the spotlight at the upcoming Singapore International Film Festival.
Singaporean film-makers (from left) K. Rajagopal, Abdul Nizam and Gladys Ng will be in the spotlight at the upcoming Singapore International Film Festival. PHOTOS: LIM YAOHUI, COURTESY OF 27TH SGIFF

SINGAPORE - Three local film-makers will be in the spotlight at the upcoming Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF): K. Rajagopal, with his first feature A Yellow Bird; the late Abdul Nizam, whose works will be screened in a retrospective; and Gladys Ng, who is directing the festival's first commissioned short.

This was announced at a press conference on Oct 5 morning. The film festival runs this year from Nov 23 to Dec 4 across various venues, with ticket sales starting on Oct 28.

Rajagopal's debut feature A Yellow Bird, about a man who has been released from prison, makes its Singapore premiere after debuting at International Critics' Week, a parallel section of the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in May.

It will be competing with nine other Asian feature films for four Silver Screen Awards: Best Film, Best Director, Best Performance and Special Mention.

The movie stars acclaimed Indian actress Seema Biswas (Bandit Queen, 1994) as well as local veteran actor Sivakumar Palakrishnan and Chinese indie film star Huang Lu (Blind Massage, 2014). It will be released in local cinemas on Dec 8.

Rajagopal is no stranger to the SGIFF having won the Special Jury Prize for three consecutive years from 1995 to 1997 for his short films I Can't Sleep Tonight, The Glare and Absence.

Nizam's works have been a part of previous festivals as well. This year, SGIFF will screen a retrospective of his films. The line-up includes Datura, which explores the Malay-Muslim identity and was the winner of Best Short Film at the 1999 edition. He died of cancer at the age of 50 in June this year and was active in the indie music scene as well.

A new element introduced this year is the commissioning of a short film for the festival. Ng, winner of SGIFF's Best Short Film in 2015 with My Father After Dinner, will present The Pursuit Of A Happy Human Life. It is about two friends spending time together before one of the girls leaves Singapore.

SGIFF executive director Yuni Hadi says: "The SGIFF has had close relations with Abdul Nizam, K. Rajagopal, and Gladys Ng - film-makers from different generations - and have followed their developments as film-makers. They are undeniably talented storytellers and we respect their fierce commitment to engaging aspects of Singapore we don't often see in film and TV."

SGIFF is part of the Singapore Media Festival, which will be held from Nov 23 to Dec 9 and is hosted by the Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore.

The Singapore Media Festival, whose theme this year is Celebrating Asian Storytelling, will launch a new event called SMF Ignite, which brings together digital content creators and also gives fans a chance to meet YouTube gaming personalities.

The third edition of the SMF also includes the Asian Television Awards, Asia TV Forum & Market (ATF) as well as film market ScreenSingapore. The Cable & Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia Spotlight Series one-day conference and the biennial short film competition cINE65 will come under the SMF umbrella for the first time.

The inaugural ATF Formats Pitch wants to suss out the next big TV hit. The winning original, non-scripted entertainment concept will receive a package worth $20,000 of consultancy advice and cash support.

Also a first is the setting up of a festival square at Chijmes, where participants can gather to interact and relax.