The 30th Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) culminated on Sunday (Dec. 1) after two weeks of film screenings and off-screen programs that celebrated and showcased the best of independent cinema.
The festival brought together a record attendance of more than 110,000 festival-goers to engage with filmmakers from Singapore and the region in film screenings, panels, talks, exhibitions and masterclasses.
This year, the SGIFF presented a dynamic line-up of over 90 films by auteurs from 40 countries that took the pulse of Asian and international cinema, of which includes 35 sold-out screenings, surpassing its past record in 2017. There was also strong support for works by homegrown filmmakers, with the festival’s opening film, Wet Season by Anthony Chen, being the first film sold out in the lineup, and all titles under the Singapore Panorama snatched up by the audience.
Meanwhile, the much-anticipated Audience Choice Award was awarded to Unteachable by Singaporean filmmaker, Yong Shuling, marking the first time a local film has received this Award.
The debut feature documentary by Yong follows the story of Damian, a struggling teenager at the bottom rung of Singapore’s academic ladder, and a young teacher Meixi, who is on a mission to transform the way learning is conducted in classes like his.
Both screenings of Unteachable during the Festival were sold out, and had its third run as part of the Audience Choice Award at the National Museum of Singapore on Dec. 1 alongside the winners of the Best Asian Feature Film, Scales (Sayidat Al Bahr) by Saudi Arabian filmmaker Shahad Ameen, and Best Southeast Asian Short Film I’m Not Your F***ing Stereotype by Thai filmmaker Hesome Chemamah at the Silver Screen Awards.
To commemorate the SGIFF’s landmark edition, the festival also closed with a 30th Anniversary Special Presentation screening of The Truth by Palme d’Or Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda on Dec. 1 at Golden Village Grand.
This latest feature by Kore-eda is his first out of Japan, and presents a unique taste of France as it tells the story of prima donna actress Fabienne (played by Catherine Deneuve) whose newly published memoirs are challenged by her daughter, Lumir (played by Juliette Binoche).
The 11-day SGIFF saw an outstanding lineup of stars and industry heavyweights gracing the festival as they interacted with the audience during the red-carpet galas at Capitol Theatre, masterclasses and dialogue sessions held around the island. This included Golden Globe winning actress, Joanne Froggatt; Hollywood’s leading makeup effects artist, Barney Burman; acclaimed Indian actor, Nawazuddin Siddiqui; actor and guitarist of iconic Taiwanese rock band, Stone; distinguished Chinese actress,Yao Chen; and Taiwanese personalities, Wu Ke-xi and Hsia Yu-chiao. Esteemed filmmakers, Takisha Miike, Midi Z, Pang Ho Cheung, and Anurag Kashyap, also graced the festival.