The rebooted Singapore International Film Festival, back this year for its 25th edition from Dec 4 to 14, will feature 28 local works, its most extensive line-up of Singapore films so far.
Besides opening film Unlucky Plaza by director Ken Kwek, the first local film to open the festival, it will also feature works such as psychological thriller Ms J Contemplates Her Choice, starring singer- actress Kit Chan in her first lead role in a feature film.
Singapore Panorama, one of the festival's 11 sections and the one that features local films, will shine a spotlight on the home-grown music scene with The Obs: A Singapore Story, a documentary by film-maker Chris Yeo about acclaimed art-rock group The Observatory.
Director Rick Aw makes his feature film debut with Standing In Still Water, while indie director Han Yew Kwang will showcase Rubbers, a Mandarin sex comedy that stars Ilo Ilo's Golden Horse winner Yeo Yann Yann in one of three stories revolving around condoms.
Opening film Unlucky Plaza stars Filipino actor Epy Quizon and local actors Adrian Pang, Janice Koh and Pamela Oei. It made its global debut at last month's Toronto International Film Festival, where it sold out its screening.
Singapore International Film Festival board chairman Mike Wiluan says at a press conference yesterday that there is more vibrancy in the local film industry today, thanks to grants and support from government agencies.
The chief executive of Infinite Studios adds: "I sense a bullishness in young film-makers today. One of the contributing factors is that they are able to get their content out more easily with social media and the fact that technology has become very accessible. So by the time you meet an 18-year-old film-maker, he may have made a number of short films using his iPhone.
"Twenty years ago, it was more cumbersome."
The Singapore works are among the 147 films from 50 countries to screen at the festival.
There will be 25 films making their world premieres, including documentary The Undertaker by Filipino director Andrea Capranico, about a group of people who live in a cemetery; Russian director Mikhail Kosyrev-Nesterov's drama Journey To The Mother; and Indonesian director Teddy Soeriaat- madja's drama About A Woman.
One of the films making its Asian premiere is Egyptian director Ahmad Abdalla El Sayed Abdelkader's black-and-white psychological drama Decor. He has also been selected as the festival's Film-maker In Focus.
The festival is bringing back the Silver Screen Awards that honours the best in Asian films. Besides the Asian Feature Film category, whose nominees include South Korean director Park Jung-bum's drama Alive, a new component, the South-east Asian Short Film category, has been added.
Indonesian director Lucky Kuswandi's In The Absence Of The Sun, a drama revolving around three women, will be the festival's closing film.
The festival, last held in 2011, is now part of the Singapore Media Festival, which includes ScreenSingapore, the Asia Television Forum and Market and the Asian Television Awards. Screening venues include Marina Bay Sands' Sands Theatre, the National Museum of Singapore and Shaw Theatres Lido.
Festival executive director Yuni Hadi says that while the programming was done with the festival's followers in mind, her team was also aiming to reach out to a new generation of film audience.
"They have so much information on their hands that they are more curious and they want to be engaged, so we use social media and put up content on YouTube, including interviews with film-makers."