The global refugee crisis takes centerstage

Don’t ever let us catch you saying there’s nothing to do in Singapore—with the Painting with Light film festival returning for its second edition this month (Oct 5-28), there’s no time like the present to get your fill of good cinema.

The film festival organized by National Gallery Singapore also happens to be the only one in Singapore dedicated to art—to showcase the role it plays in society. Like last year’s inaugural edition, Painting with Light 2018 will feature more than 30 thought-provoking films by Singapore, regional and international filmmakers, in a variety of feature-length, short, and single-channel films.

Take your pick of flicks from the four sections: Ways of Seeing showcases artists and their interventions on society; Holding Space focuses on institutions of art and their communities; Southeast Asian Shorts puts a spotlight on the stories of our region; while the films in this year’s Special Focus category draw attention to the reality of transition and displacement in a world presently grappling with the refugee crisis.


Central Airport THF

If you were gripped by Ai Wei Wei’s Human Flow, then definitely save the date for the moving selections in the Special Focus section. Glimpse (2017) by Polish visual artist Artur Zmijewski presents the living conditions of displaced families in four refugee camps across Europe; while Berlin-based Karim Ainouz’s Central Airport THF (2018) captures the asylum seekers residing in the makeshift emergency shelters of the former Tempelhof Airport in Berlin—the same one we were given a glimpse of in Human Flow. Outside the refugee crisis, documentary Motherland (2017) explores the intricate web of politics, traditional ideologies and health policies in the Philippines, through events at the planet’s busiest maternity hospital. And for the artsy, there’s Arcadia (2017), a less sombre, fantastically processed fever dream commenting on the British’s relationship to the land.

In addition, catch opening film Their Remaining Journey (2018), the debut feature of Singaporean visual artist John Clang which connects three seemingly unrelated groups of people navigating personal loss and displacement; plus the beautifully animated French-Belgian film Approved for Adoption (2012). The free-admission Southeast Asian Shorts section should also be on your watchlist, with daily screenings of 12 poignant shorts (some Singapore premieres) that include Bangkok Dystopia, Laotian film A Long Way Home, and Singapore’s own Permanent Resident (2017).


Painting with Light: Festival of International Films on Art runs from Oct 5-28 at National Gallery Singapore. Tickets and more information available here.