Film picks: More than 30 acclaimed works at the Second Singapore Chinese Film Festival

A Touch of Sin by Chinese film-maker Jia Zhangke, the crime flick won the award for Best Screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival last year. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE FILM SOCIETY
A Touch of Sin by Chinese film-maker Jia Zhangke, the crime flick won the award for Best Screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival last year. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE FILM SOCIETY

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More than 30 acclaimed works from around the region premiere at this festival.

Highlights include A Touch Of Sin (2013) by Chinese film-maker Jia Zhangke, the crime flick that won the award for Best Screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival last year; the drama To My Dear Granny (2013), award-winning TV director Chu Yu-ning’s film tribute to his grandmother, which was nominated for Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress for Lin Mei-hsiu at last year’s Golden Horse Awards; and Hong Kong indie hit The Way We Dance (2013), a dance flick about a hip-hop expert, which earned Golden Horse nominations for Best Action Choreography as well as Best Actress for star Cherry Ngan last year. Most of the films are unlikely to get a commercial release here later. The event is jointly organised by the Singapore Film Society and UniSIM Centre for Chinese Studies.

Where: Cathay Cineplexes, The Arts House and The National Museum Of Singapore MRT: Raffles Place/Dhoby Ghaut When: Till April 27 Admission: $12 and $13 from Cathay Cineplex box offices, the Arts House box office; information counter at the National Museum; Sistic or online at, and, depending on the screening venue.

Yip Wai Yee

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3.50 (PG13)

106 minutes

This Singapore-Cambodian production about female trafficking in Cambodia offers no easy answers or clear-cut heroes and villains. Eunice Olsen (inset), who plays the lead and is one of the film's producers, says that while official corruption plays a part in turning the trade of girls into a booming sex industry, the film does not demonise the authorities. She plays a documentary film-maker looking into the case of a girl who is abducted from her village and forced into the sex trade.

There are several Cambodian characters in the drama, each with his own reasons for being involved in the trade, reflecting the complex moral nature of the situation.

Where: The Arts House MRT: Raffles Place When: Till May 4, various times, with a post-screening panel on May 3 Admission: $10 at Info:

John Lui

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90 minutes/Sunday


Rekorder is an experimental work about a DVD pirate, Maven (Ronnie Quizon), who sneaks his camcorder into cinemas. The former cinematographer cannot resist documenting life on the streets of Manila. One night, he records an act of violence that forces him to re-examine his place in society. Winner of the Special Jury Prize in France’s Festival International du Premier, writer-director Mikhail Red weaves into his story his take on the current state of cinema in his home country, the pervasiveness of surveillance and the meaning of moving images. Red will speak after the screening.

Where: Moving Image Gallery, Singapore Art Museum @ 8Q, 8 Queen Street MRT: Bras Basah/City Hall Admission: $10 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to Info: Rekorder is screened as part of the The Southeast Asian Film Festival which runs till May 4. Go to for the full schedule.

John Lui

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104 minutes


The dabbawallas are part of a food delivery system in Indian cities in which cooked meals make their way to thousands of office workers every day. It is a daunting task given the numbers involved, the challenging state of Indian traffic and the fact that most of the dabbawallas, or carriers, are illiterate.

Drawing inspiration from this feat of logistical wonder, writer-director Ritesh Batra has come up with a moving tale about urban loneliness and human connection. The Hindi and English film is a portrait of modern India. Ila (Nimrat Kaur) tries to get her husband’s attention by trying something new in the kitchen. But thanks to a mix-up in the lunchbox delivery system in Mumbai, her tiffin carrier of home-cooked goodness goes to Saajan Fernandez (Irrfan Khan), an office worker and a loner about to retire. Thus begins an exchange of handwritten notes between the two and an unlikely friendship develops. Batra shows an assured grasp of story-telling in his debut feature, as he deftly handles moments of drama, comedy and tragedy. And as the film’s distributor kindly cautioned, do not watch the film on an empty stomach or the food scenes will tip your hunger pangs over the edge.

Boon Chan

This story was first published in The Straits Times on April 18, 2014