Iconic Singapore films and Asian spy flicks at Singapore International Film Festival

Cinema still from the movie I Not Stupid.
Cinema still from the movie I Not Stupid.PHOTO: MEDIACORP

SINGAPORE - Two iconic Singapore films will celebrate their 15th anniversary at the upcoming Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) - Jack Neo's I Not Stupid and Colin Goh and Woo Yen Yen's TalkingCock The Movie.

The festival also announced on Tuesday (Oct 3) that it will highlight Asian spy flicks from the 1950s to early 1980s in its Classics section.

Box-office king Neo's I Not Stupid (2002) is a comedy about three Primary 6 pupils in the academically inferior EM3 stream. Its critique of the education system even made it into then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong's 2002 National Day Rally speech.

Neo said in a statement: "While the film was produced to reflect the reality of our education system and how it affects the communication between parent and child, it has also surpassed our expectations and received positive acknowledgement beyond our shores, especially in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China, where I Not Stupid is currently being used as teaching material."

TalkingCock The Movie (2002) was based on husband and wife Goh and Woo's satirical website TalkingCock.com and it pokes fun at current affairs and local politics with segments such as eAhLong.com, about loan sharks.

The directors said: "To be honest, we didn't know what we were doing with TalkingCock. We had a cast of 109 amateur actors! But the film was special precisely because of that freewheeling 'heck-care' spirit. It was the best film school one could ask for, and we learnt so much."

SGIFF executive director Yuni Hadi touched upon the importance of the two movies. "Local social satire was at its infancy then and I Not Stupid and TalkingCock The Movie struck a chord with the local audience because these films were among the first that engaged with subjects close to the hearts of Singaporeans in a humorous but honest lens. This approach sparked discussions and created a relevance to the role of Singapore film."

The festival runs from Nov 23 to Dec 3 and the full line-up and ticketing details will be announced at the end of October. SGIFF is part of the fourth Singapore Media Festival from Nov 23 to Dec 3.

The Classics section in SGIFF is themed for the first time and the line-up includes The Man From Hong Kong (1975), which stars martial arts icon Jimmy Wang Yu as a superstar cop; and Gerak Kilat (1966) from Singapore, with Malaysian actor Jins Shamsudin as dashing secret agent Jefri Zain.

SGIFF programme director Pimpaka Towira said: "As we explore (Asian cinema's) development from pure espionage storylines, to the eventual mash-up with martial art styles, Asian spy genre speaks of the region's high adaptability to produce blistering cinematic legacy with a distinct Asian voice."

Take that, James Bond.