Singapore International Film Festival to highlight works from three local directors

K. Rajagopal's A Yellow Bird, starring Sivakumar Palakrishnan (above), will be competing with nine Asian feature films for four Silver Screen Awards at the Singapore International Film Festival.
K. Rajagopal's A Yellow Bird, starring Sivakumar Palakrishnan (above), will be competing with nine Asian feature films for four Silver Screen Awards at the Singapore International Film Festival.PHOTO: AKANGA FILM ASIA

Singapore International Film Festival features works of film-makers K. Rajagopal, Abdul Nizam and Gladys Ng

Three Singapore 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 yesterday. The film festival runs from Nov 23 to Dec 4 across various venues, with ticket sales starting on Oct 28.

A Yellow Bird, about a man 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 Asian feature films for four Silver Screen Awards: Best Film, Best Director, Best Performance and Special Mention.


Award-winning Singaporean film-maker K. Rajagopal (left) with Indian actress Seema Biswas. PHOTO: ST FILE

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

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


The late Abdul Nizam. PHOTO: COURTESY OF 27TH SGIFF

Nizam's works have been a part of previous festivals as well. The retrospective this year includes Datura (1998), which explores the Malay-Muslim identity and won Best Short Film at the 1999 festival. He died of cancer at age 50 in June.

An element introduced this year is the commissioning of a short film for the festival. Ng, winner of Best Short Film last year 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.

Festival 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."

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

SMF, 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.


Film-maker Gladys Ng won the award for Best Singapore Short Film at the Silver Screen Awards for My Father After Dinner, inspired by her foodie father.  PHOTO: ST FILE

SMF, now in its third year, 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 for the first time.

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

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

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2016, with the headline 'Singapore films in the limelight'. Print Edition | Subscribe