Film Picks: Singapore Mental Health Film Festival, Stray, About Time

Among the five films available online - each accompanied by a panel discussion - is French drama Little Tickles. PHOTO: SINGAPORE MENTAL HEALTH FILM FESTIVAL

Singapore Mental Health Film Festival

This festival, launched in 2018, returns with a programme of films and talks with the aim of building constructive conversations about mental health.

Among the five films available online - each accompanied by a panel discussion - is French drama Little Tickles (2018, M18, 103 minutes; online panel titled The Shadow Of Childhood Trauma on May 29 at 3.30pm).

Film-maker and actress Andrea Bescond co-wrote and co-directed this story based on her own experiences. Odette, whose adult version is played by Bescond, is a dancer struggling with intimacy issues because of sexual abuse by a trusted friend of her parents when she was eight.

Where: This website

When: May 22 to 30

Admission: $12 (individual pass) or $45 (bundle of four). Each pass allows unlimited viewing for 48 hours upon activation between May 22 and 30

Info: This website

Stray (NC16)

Stills from the documentary Stray. PHOTO: THE PROJECTOR

72 minutes, showing exclusively at The Projector, 4 stars

In Istanbul, Turkey's largest city, half a million dogs and cats roam the streets. There is a rich vein of lore explaining why this ancient metropolis is so stray-friendly and this documentary touches on some of it in title cards.

Those terse lines are about all the exposition you will get because the hook here is that viewers see the world through the eyes of its three furry protagonists, known in the film as Zeytin, Nazar and Kartal.

Hong Kong film-maker Elizabeth Lo filmed this exercise in immersiveness between 2017 and 2019, with her handheld camera positioned a metre off the ground - at a dog's eye level. She follows the animals from beach and park to construction site and busy shopping district, often in the company of the glue-sniffing Syrian refugee boys who, like the animals they clearly love, are homeless.

This film, winner of the Best International Documentary at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival 2020, is a natural bookend to Kedi (2016), director Ceyda Torun's study of Istanbul's street cats.

But where Kedi was warm and human-centred, in Stray, Lo centres the dogs as creatures who live with humans but who also have their own communities.

About Time (NC16)

About Time starring Rachel McAdams and Domhnall Gleeson. PHOTO: UIP

123 minutes, available on Netflix, 3 stars

British writer-director Richard Curtis has written a few of the most popular romantic comedies in recent years, among them Four Weddings And A Funeral (1994) and Love, Actually (2003, which he also directed).

Last weekend, two films he penned - Notting Hill (1999) and About Time, released in 2013 - were added to Netflix.

About Time, which Curtis also directed, looks at the human desire for do-overs, especially in matters of love.

Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) and Mary (Rachel McAdams) are a couple who meet, fall in love and have a family in part because Tim, like all the men in his family, can travel back in time to change the past.

Like most Curtis films, this one features a nice balance of laughs, warmth and romance.

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