Singapore International Film Festival to let audiences vote for favourites

Vote for your favourite film of the Singapore International Film Festival and get to watch it again on the closing day

This year's Singapore International Film Festival will introduce an Audience Choice Award so that members of the audience can vote for their favourite film, with a chance to watch it again.

Singapore's newest arts venue, National Gallery Singapore, set to open its doors next month, will be among the theatres screening festival films.

And to ease the squeeze, evening screenings will be spaced further apart, giving festivalgoers more time to commute between venues.

Festival director Zhang Wenjie says the scheduling tweak "gives people a chance to grab a bite, so they don't have to rush from venue to venue".

Last year saw the revival of the festival after a three-year hiatus and, with it, a new acronym, SGIFF (it was formerly known as SIFF).

Mr Zhang says that judging from audience feedback, it was a hit, requiring only minor tweaks.

"We might now start weekday screenings at 7pm, instead of 7.30pm," he says. He was speaking at a press conference yesterday at the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands.

And instead of the traditional closing film, the last day of the festival will have screenings of the winners of the Audience Choice and other awards.

Otherwise, the numbers this year are largely the same as those last year. The festival, running from Nov 26 to Dec 6, will screen 146 features and short films from more than 50 countries. There were 147 films last year.

About 100 artists will be here to give talks after screenings. Visiting international celebrities this year include Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh, British actor Dev Patel, Hong Kong actress Josie Ho and South Korean actor Choi Woo Shik.

Talks by American-Hong Kong producer Terence Chang, Thai film-maker Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf are also scheduled.

The venues remain the National Museum of Singapore, The Arts House, Marina Bay Sands, Shaw Lido, The Projector, plus the new venue, National Gallery Singapore.

Programme highlights include opening film Panay, a Taiwanese drama about the plight of the island's indigenous people.

Eric Khoo's much-anticipated erotic drama, In The Room, will feature in the Special Presentation section, while in the Singapore Panorama section, Eva Tang's documentary on the 1980s xinyao Chinese folk music movement, The Songs We Sang, will be screened.

A restored high-definition version of Khoo's groundbreaking 1995 drama, Mee Pok Man, will be given a screening in the Classics section to honour the film's 20th anniversary.

Also to be honoured in that section is Hong Kong-Singapore production Bugis Street Redux, also from 1995, by director Yonfan.

In the Cinema Today section, there will be a focus on the surging field of Mexican cinema, which will include a panel discussion featuring four directors from the country.

The other special section this year will look at the new wave of China-based documentary-makers. To be named Between Visible And Invisible: Alternative Vision Of Chinese Independent Documentary, the section will feature works from film-makers willing to risk working outside state-approved boundaries.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2015, with the headline 'Film fest launches Audience Choice'. Subscribe