From fascism to the unshakeable patriarchy

After a phenomenal tenth anniversary showcase last year, the annual Perspectives Film Festival is back this month, with a leaner line-up that’s no less impactful. From Oct 25-28, the student-run film festival will present seven international films curated on the theme of ‘Institutions’—where you can expect some pretty badass protagonists to test the limits of the various institutions they’re bound by. Spoiler alert: These aren’t always physical bodies of power.

Opening the festival is the Singapore premiere of Iranian director Jafar Panahi’s 3 Faces, winner of Best Screenplay at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. Through the narrative of an aspiring actress thwarted by her conservative family, 3 Faces offers a critical look at the injustices and deep-rooted patriarchal traditions faced by Iranian actresses at different stages of their career. The film is the fourth made under Panahi’s 20-year filmmaking ban imposed by Iranian authorities; and you know just how much we love a good banned film.

Another Cannes pick, courtroom documentary drama Bamako spotlights systematic institutionalization of Western capitalism in Africa, in splicing clips of real court hearings with a searing look at the lives of the locals suffering the short end of the stick. Or catch 1970 political drama The Conformist, a visual masterpiece that still manages to dissect the psychology of conformism and fascism in Fascist Europe.

For something a little lighter (but not really), there’s Camera Buff, a comedy drama centered on a Polish factory worker who accidentally unlocks a hidden passion for filmmaking—but must manage his artistic expression in a society of censorship. And bound to be a hot favorite is Hong Kong drama Song of the Exile, filmed in 1990 and set in the ‘70s. Starring Maggie Cheung, the film posits a cross-cultural narrative on identity, following the life of a Japanese woman married to a Chinese National soldier post-WWII—inspired largely by director Ann Hui’s own heritage and story.

Come with a clear head; it’s about to get pretty heavy.


Perspectives Film Festival runs Oct 25-28 at National Museum of Singapore and Alliance Francaise. Tickets and festival passes available here.