What to watch if you want award-winning tearjerkers

If you’ve been itching for some new screen candy, the Middle East Film Festival is back for its third edition—but is swapping out its former Projector screening location for a run in mainstream cinemas. From Jan 10-16, Golden Village VivoCity will screen seven specially curated films detailing the lives of people living in the Middle East. Of the seven, six are Singapore premieres; and all are seasoned festival heavyweights (just a casual handful of Palme d’Or nominations, Venice Film Festival awards, and wins at Locarno). Heads up to bring your tissues—they’ll be delving into expectedly heavy issues related to society, family, cultural traditions and ethnic identities.

Opening the festival is Lebanese film The Insult, a gritty courtroom drama pitting a Lebanese Christian and Palestinian refugee against each other after an insult is blown wildly out of proportion. Egyptian film Sheikh Jackson likely reads as a comedy from its premise—an Islamic cleric cum super Michael Jackson fan has his world thrown upside down in the wake of his idol’s death in 2009—but will prove an expressive coming-of-age film about faith and family.

There’s also The Road To Mother, a monumental war film chronicling a young man’s harrowing journey from the 1930s to the present in war-torn Kazakhstan; or the slightly lighter drama-comedy Wajib, a Locarno favourite centering on an estranged father-son relationship (director Annemarie Jacir will be present for post-screening dialogues after). But you’ll definitely want to catch The Wild Pear Tree—the Turkish drama follows one aspiring writer’s tumultuous journey to getting published, battling his father’s debts along the way; and was also a nominee for this year’s Cannes Palme d’Or.


Middle East Film Festival 2019 is happening Jan 10-16 at Golden Village VivoCity. Tickets are $13. More information available here.