Singapore International Film Festival will be held online and in cinemas from Nov 26

The opening film, Tiong Bahru Social Club directed by Tan Bee Thiam, will be screened at Shaw Lido. PHOTO: 13 LITTLE PICTURES

SINGAPORE - The 31st edition of the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) will be held online and in physical venues from Nov 26 to Dec 6.

Dubbed a "hybrid festival" by organisers, it will be a scaled-down affair compared with last year. There will be fewer films - about 70, compared with 90 last year.

Events such as the opening night red carpet gala have been scrapped to observe social distancing.

At a virtual press conference held on Tues morning (Nov 3), details of the hybrid model were revealed.

The opening film, local satirical comedy Tiong Bahru Social Club directed by Tan Bee Thiam, will be screened at Shaw Lido without a red carpet event.

SGIFF artistic director Kuo Ming-Jung, in reply to an earlier e-mail query, said: "In a year when we see drastic downsizing of many international film festivals, SGIFF strives to continue to bring diverse films to our audiences."

Also put on hold are the more glamorous parts of the programme, the Honorary Award and the Cinema Icon award, which last year had drawn high-profile foreign attendees such as Japanese film-maker Takashi Miike and Chinese actress Yao Chen.

The competitions will happen, however. The Silver Screen Awards film competition, the Asian Feature Film Competition and the Southeast Asian Short Film Competition among others, will take place as usual.

The In Conversation section, featuring talks by prominent members of the film industry, will go online. This year's speakers include Hong Kong film-maker Ann Hui and her frequent collaborator, art director and production designer Man Lim Chung.

Cinema-only films include director Chloe Zhao's drama Nomadland. PHOTO: SINGAPORE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

The four panel discussions will also take place virtually. Foreign film-makers will also conduct post-screening chats through a video link.

While many of the films will be available online, several award winners can only be watched in cinemas, which because of social distancing rules have restricted seating capacities.

Ms Kuo said: "SGIFF will be hosting two physical screenings per film, so that the films can reach a wider audience."

Cinema-only films include director Chloe Zhao's drama Nomadland, winner of the Golden Lion at this year's Venice Film Festival. Opening film Tiong Bahru Social Club will also not be available online during the festival. It will however get a general cinema release here from Dec 10.

Ms Kuo addressed the issue of sought-after titles not having a streaming option at the press conference.

"If film companies or film-makers wish to screen their films in cinemas only, we have to respect their desires," she said.

Over 70 per cent of films will have a streaming option, with all short films available for streaming.

She encouraged those who want to watch the films to purchase tickets early.

In addition to Nomadland, Ms Kuo mentioned programme highlights such as the period drama Wife Of A Spy from Japanese director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, winner of the Silver Lion for Best Director in Venice this year.

Tickets go on sale Nov 6, 12 pm at the Singapore International Film Festival website, Sistic and The Projector's website.

Bookings, registration, information and programme updates at this website.

Venues this year include Shaw Lido, Filmgarde Bugis+, Oldham Theatre and The Projector.

Selected films will be available online and viewable in Singapore only. Films once started will be available for 48 hours.

Individual tickets are $10 (online), $15 (cinema) and $25 (opening film), excluding Sistic fees. Talks and panels are free.

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