×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

S’pore fest confronts censors

Film festival looking for an out

SINGAPORE — Now entering its 18th year, the Singapore Film Fest (April 14-30) will screen more than 300 titles from 40 countries.

But the fest is still looking to make its mark among the likes of Hong Kong, Bangkok and Busan — and scissors-happy censors are still a problem.

“To encourage the Singapore film scene, the censorship laws have to open up,” says the festival’s director and programmer Philip Cheah. “Right now, none of the ratings are exempt from censorship, even the adult R(21) rating. As a start, the festival ought to be exempt from censorship as in many festivals in Asia,” he says.

Fest opens with Katsuhiro Otomo’s new anime epic “Steamboy” and closes with Mamoru Oshii’s “Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence.” Other Asian animated features include Satoshi Kon’s “Tokyo Godfathers,” Shinji Aramaki’s “Appleseed” and “Wonderful Days,” a debut from Korea’s Kim Moon-Saeng.

Epics also will be featured including Lav Diaz’s “Evolution” (11 hours), Edgar Reitz’s “Heimat III” (nearly 12 hours), Jacques Richard’s “Le fantome d’ Henri Langlois” (Henri Langlois: The Phantom of the Cinematheque) and joint Israel-Palestinian production “Route 181.”

New Singapore films include Tan Pin Pin’s “Singapore Ga Ga,” Merwyn Tzang’s “A Wicked Tale” and Sam Loh’s “Malice.” There is also a retrospective on Hou Hsiao Hsien.

Cheah believes the Singapore fest has opened the national window for buying and distributing more independent films, as well as having created awareness of Singapore film by launching talents such as Royston Tan, Eric Khoo, Kelvin Tong and Ong Lay Jinn. “We still want to expand the diet of cinemagoers into other genres such as the avant garde or a wider taste of Asia from the Middle East to Central Asia,” he says.

As SIFF is not a big-budget film festival, Cheah says it tries to contribute to regional film culture. “Over the years, we have spent time and money to discover and rediscover young and old talents who were either overlooked or forgotten. For example, Malaysia’s U-Wei bin Haji Saari, James Lee and Ho Yuhang had their platform in Singapore first before they headed westwards. Or legends such as Thailand’s Ratana Pestonji or Philippines’ Laurice Guillen had a chance to be rediscovered again in Singapore.”

As for what can be done to improve the fest’s profile and prospects, Cheah laments that funding from the Singapore Film Commission has been cut by around 30% (from $30,000 to $20,000) this year. “Furthermore, our censorship-fee exemption has been withdrawn, and this means that this year, we would have to pay the censors about $12,000.”

More Film

  • Lucas (Jonah Hauer-King) and Bella (Amber)

    China's Bona Film Boards Brad Pitt's 'Ad Astra,' 'A Dog's Way Home' (EXCLUSIVE)

    China’s Bona Film Group is co-financing Brad Pitt space adventure “Ad Astra,” one of several films in a strong slate of international movies the company plans to release in the Middle Kingdom over the next year. Bona has also acquired Roland Emmerich’s war spectacular “Midway” and is investing in “A Dog’s Way Home,” the sequel [...]

  • Aquaman 2018

    Film News Roundup: 'Aquaman' Sets Pre-Sales Record

    In today’s film news roundup, “Aquaman” sets a pre-sales record, “Bohemian Rhapsody” hits a milestone, and SAG-AFTRA promotes four executives.  PRE-SALES RECORD “Aquaman” has set a pre-sales record for Atom Tickets, topping “Deadpool 2,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” and “Black Panther.” “Clearly, ‘Aquaman’ has captured the attention of movie fans with its larger-than-life adventure that must [...]

  • 'Liga' Kicks Off At Ventana Sur's

    Ventana Sur: 'La Liga' Kicks Off at Buenos Aires' Animation!

    Spain’s Quirino Awards, Argentina’s Animation! and Mexico’s Pixelatl Festival, three key events in Ibero-American animation, will join forces to create La Liga (The League), as announced Wednesday at an Animation! round table hosted by the Quirino Awards, titled “Iberoamerican Alliance Models.” Speakers included Quirino Awards promoter José Luis Farias, Mexico’s Pixelatl director José Iñesta, Gonzalo [...]

  • The Quake Review

    Film Review: 'The Quake'

    Roar Uthaug’s 2015 “The Wave” revived the pleasures of the 1970s disaster-movie cycle in a form that seemed purer than the never-quite-dead genre’s recent Stateside incarnations — most of which seem to involve Dwayne Johnson in a generic pileup of CGI perils. “The Wave” wasn’t high art, but it was entertainment that delivered some standard [...]

  • The Mule trailer

    Film Review: Clint Eastwood in 'The Mule'

    From Dirty Harry to … dirty grandpa, Clint Eastwood certainly has a type of character that he plays best, and “The Mule” finds him squarely in his comfort zone, appearing as a surly old horticulturalist who, at age 90, has become perhaps the most reliable drug runner for the Sinaloa cartel, evading detection for nearly [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content