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Singapore's summer film festival season is here

Travel to the war zones of Liberia and then fall in love in Paris

By Tay Shi Ting | May 16, 2017

  • Singapore's summer film festival season is here
    Mon Oncle part of Playtime: The Complete Works of Jacques Tati

While we love brain-numbing blockbusters that'll be hitting the screens this summer, a continuous supply of indie films is so much better. They tackle difficult issues and heartfelt stories, and combine that with beautiful and captivating visuals. Here's a list of must-catch film festivals and smaller events happening from now all the way till August, ranging from cult films to documentaries.

European Union Film Festival (Now till May 21)

The long-running European Union Film Festival (EUFF) returns for its 27th edition with a snazzy new home—the National Gallery. The festival brings together 27 thought-provoking, captivating and hilarious films from across the continent. There’s Kills on Wheels, a film that confronts disabilities distinctly and directly, trying to answer the age-old question: “Can a wheelchair user be an effective assassin?”. Or see the world through the eyes of a young woman with epilepsy as she descends into London’s underbelly in search of her long-lost brother at Electricity.

Where: National Gallery

How much: $12 per screening

Cult Film Month at The Screening Room (Now till May 23)

This bistro, rooftop bar and mini-movie lounge on Ann Siang is hosting a cult film month with selections including the classic Chinese action film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which follows famous Hong Kong actor Chow Yun Fat and veteran action movie actress Michelle Yeoh on a journey searching for a lost sword, and the perennial favorite Fight Club, which tells the story of the unnamed narrator (Edward Norton) who finds himself in an underground fight club and soap making business with a man he meets on a plane (Brad Pitt). Loosen up with Monty Python and the Holy Grail, a 1975 comedy that parodies the story of King Authur’s search of the Holy Grail.

Where: The Screening Room

How much: $15 per screening

Private Screening of Pop Aye in aid of The T Project (May 17)

The Singaporean-Thai film Pop Aye by director Kirsten Tan has another screening of the film, this time in support of local transgender shelter The T Project. The T Project started in 2014, providing the transgender community free accomodation and food. Founder June Chua has also been named Promising Advocate of the Year at Singapore Advocacy Awards 2016. The ticket entitles you to a can of coke and medium-sized popcorn. Fans of Tan will be elated to know that the director herself will be there to answer questions, and limited copies of the autographed movie posters will be on sale.

Where: Golden Village Suntec, Hall 4

How much: $35 a pop, $65 for two and $120 for four

Film Screening – “The Art of Looking” by John Berger (May 17)

STPI is the largest print workshop in Asia and an art gallery, and also organizes regular film screenings. This time, they'll be screening The Art of Looking, an intimate documentary on the late writer and art critic John Berger and his contribution in changing the way people perceive visual arts and understand them.

Where: STPI

How much: Free

Danish Film at National Gallery (May 19)

As part of EUFF 2017, Marie Kroyer, a film about the wife of one of the most successful Skagen painters, P.S Kroyer. They were one of the most famous and loved couples in the country, with politicials, businessmen, scientists and the like all wanting to be depicted by the painter. However, beneath all the prestige lied a great darkness—the great painter suffers from manic depression, which brings a bout of marital problems between the couple. Besides the film, there'll also be some food and drinks and chocolate to munch on, as well as complimentary access to the museum.

Where: National Gallery

How much: $11

6th French Animation Film Festival (May 19-21)

Organized by Alliance Francaise de Singapour—the same people behind the French Film Festival—the French Animation Film Festival is back for its sixth year, with a selection of six films filled with deep stories. The festival opens with My Life as a Zucchini by Claude Barras, which depicts the story of a boy named Zucchini who was sent to a foster home after the sudden death of his alcoholic mother. Along with the other orphans and a policeman he befriended, he learns to trust and love again. Three other films—The Girl Without Hands, Louise by the Shore and Ivan Tsarevitch and the Changing Princess—are all showing in Singapore for the first time on May 21. 

Where: Alliance Francaise Theater

How much: $11 for AF members, and $13 for non-members. To catch opening film, My Life as a Zucchini, tickets are $16 and $19 respectively

Playtime: The Complete Works of Jacques Tati (May 20-Jun 4)

Mon Oncle

Part of Voilah! French Festival 2017, National Museum will be presenting a comprehensive look into the works of Jacques Tati, a French screenwriter, director and actor. His cinematography style has inspired greats like Steven Spielberg, David Lynch and Rowan Atkinson. The programme will see eleven works, including feature length films like Playtime, Mon Oncle and Parade, as well as Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist, which is actually based on his unproduced script written in 1956. You can also catch four other short films by him, along with workshops and talks to understand his work.

Where: National Museum Singapore

How much: Free

Amelie at Singapore Open Air Cinema Club (May 26)

Catch Amelie, the French comedic romance film depicting the story of a waitress who arrived in Paris and started dedicating herself in helping people around her. She then finds love along the way. It’s showing at the small-scale outdoor cinema in one of Singapore's co-working spaces. Tickets for their screenings are usually sold out very quickly, so make sure you grab them soon.

Where: The Hive Singapore

How much: $10 for members, $18 for non-members

Mexican Film Festival 2017 (Jun 1-4)

The returning Mexican Film Festival organized by The Projector in collaboration with The Embassy of Mexico in Singapore takes a darker turn this year. Among the five films are two black-and-white features, one of which is 2015 film Bleak Street, a dark comedy about two elderly sex workers who had to rob the twin dwarf lucha libre wrestlers to make ends meet, directed by Arturo Ripstein.

Where: The Projector

How much: $11.50 per screening

Doctors Without Borders Film Festival (Jun 9-11)

The first-ever Doctor Without Borders Film Festival arrives in Singapore, bringing you three documentaries that promise some heart wrenching stories. In a bid to highlight challenges and realities faced by frontline humanitarian workers, these three films each show their line of work in different situations. Affliction follows the Ebola outbreak situation and the people involved in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, while Access to the Danger Zone provides a comprehensive look into ongoing war conflict zones in Afghanistan, Somalia and Democratic Republic of Congo where medical team “battles” to save human lives.  Living in Emergency promises to be uncensored and real, inviting you into the lives of four field doctors as they provide care to patients in the war zones of Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. These films are all accompanied with a post-show discussion.

Where: The Projector

How much: Free

Cinema series at The Substation (May-Aug)

The Substation curated their Cinema series as part of their Discipline The City project (questioning the control and its effects to cities), which will see a film screening every first Thursday of the month. Selected films will only be revealed nearer to the date. Tokyo! opened the series in May, and the next one is on Jun 8. The series (divided in sub-themes of Transformation, Anarchy and Rebirth) will explore how humans react to repeated cycles of discipline in cities such as police control.

Where: The Substation

How much: $11.50 per screening and $35 for a season pass (which entitles you to other programmes under Discipline The City)


Check out our list of places to catch indie films in Singapore here.

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