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Movie Talk: 24th Singapore International Film Festival (15-25 September 2011)

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By the time you read this article, you should at most be a day away from one of Singapore’s most acclaimed events – the 24th Singapore International Film Festival. Almost two and a half decades have passed but the festival has not lost its touch with its fans, showering them with films of wide-ranging genres and touching movie-goers’ hearts with selective applauded titles in a ten-day event.

Drawing interested movie buffs to the event is one thing. Offering them a luxurious venue to indulge in is another. Held at the newly-renovated state-of-the-art theatres in Shaw Lido, movie fans are sure to realise this year that one of the primary factors that contribute to the magic of movie-watching is the venue – the seats, the sound system, the ambience and of course, the responses of the delightful audiences themselves.

As in most events, audiences should immerse themselves in the glorious moments of the opening and closing films, as they serve as the equivalent of the lifting and dropping of the curtains of a very entertaining show. From the exploration of sexual liberalization in China in the opening film “Red Light Revolution” (China) (directed by Sam Voutas, who is in town to join and meet the locals) to commemorating one of the most memorable F1 Race drivers Ayrton Senna da Silva in “Senna” (UK) (directed by Asif Kapadia), this year’s festival is slated to be one of the best years, not forgetting that “Red Light Revolution” is nominated for Best Director and Best Performance at the Silver Screen Awards 2011.

There are numerous films for you to choose from. So, let’s start with some highlights from our very own Garden City. Singapore offers its very own triad-themed “The Gang” and the collision of teenage-parental worlds in “Fairytales” (both directed by Kelvin Sng), while a six-film compendium “Echoing Love” (spearheaded by local artiste Edmund Chen) and a poetic “I have loved” adds flavour to the power mix. And dancing with multiple individualised perspectives is “Eclipses”, Singapore’s answer to “Boomtown” (2002).

With the current craze on vampirism, it’s no surprise that there are at least two films on this genre. First up is “Vampire Girl Vs. Frankenstein Girl” (Japan). Packed with special effects, this film will thrill you with its visually-engaging impact. “Vampires” (Belgium) is the other film that entertains as a mockumentary. Dance enthusiasts will probably find delight in “Pina” (Germany), a film covering the groundbreaking work of the late Pina Bausch, a leading influencer of modern dance. Combining supernatural with comedic elements is “The Selling” (USA), where horror and humour fuse to create a film for both horror and comedy movie-goers.

For those looking to the East for some adrenaline-pumped action, South Korea presents “Secret Reunion”, which provides a take on a commonly-discussed topic: tension between North and South Korea. Fans of “Shiri” (1999) and “Joint Security Area” (2000) are sure to love this flick. Hong Kong presents “beside(s,) happiness”, a look at a late blossoming love between a pregnant lady and the father of her unborn child, in the tradition of “Juno” (2007). Holding the Guiness record for the longest one-scene film is Japan’s “Asakusa Daydream” on single parenthood. The Land of the Rising Sun also offers an animation “Green Days” – which explores the angst of one’s adolescent years.

The western world brings us “Delicatessen” (France) (which sounds like the antithesis of “Chocolat” (2000) – and with a darker touch) while “Enter the Void” (France) speaks of the afterlife in a psychedelic world. While “Revenge of the Electric Car” (USA) sounds much like Stephen King’s “Carrie” (1976), it is anything but. Explore the origins of Dracula in “The Truth about Dracula” (Germany), walk the path of the superhero in “Griff the Invisible” (Australia) and delve into the broken lives of war-torn families in “The Duck Hunter” (Italy).

The Middle East presents “Man without a Cell Phone” (Israel), a film on cell phone radiation with doses of humour. Jordan’s “Captain Abu Raed” offers a tale of friendship, acceptance and forgiveness, in the tradition of “The Kite Runner” (2007) while Bulgaria’s “Tilt” speaks of a couple’s adaptability to life in a changed landscape.

China stands on its own with its offerings of “Lao Wai” (a film on cross-cultural relationships), “Chongqing blues” (a one-man journey to uncovering the mysteries behind the murder of his son) and “Wang’s Ideal” (a take on a Chinese couple adapting to a rapidly-changing culture). It can be observed that collaborations among various countries have resulted in films such as “33 Postcards”(China/France) (a romantic tale between a couple with unusual backgrounds), “The Rice Paddy” (China/France)(a film on the shift of rural workers to urban areas – filmed using non-professional actors and entirely in the Dong language, a dialect of Tibetan-Burmese origin” and  “Summer Pasture” (China/USA), a narrative about the life of a Tibetan family. Of course, there are other collaborations among countries which I will leave it to you to explore for yourself.

There are many more films to be explored.

Begin your adventure by checking out the full schedules  here (hint: the various dates are on the left frame).

Enjoy the festival!

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