Fest highlights locals

Singapore event offers Arab cinema, Filipino pix

SINGAPORE — A record four local films will screen at the 19th Singapore Film Fest (April 13-29), with Royston Tan’s “4:30” the first homegrown feature to close the fest.

With a large Muslim population in the city, auds should appreciate the focus on the current Arab cinema, with offerings from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco and Yemen.

Fest’s opener will be Lebanon’s “Kiss Me Not on the Eyes,” from writer-helmer Jocelyne Saab, about a belly dancer struggling with sexual repression.

Another section showcases digital cinema in the Philippines, which produced more than 30 digital features last year, 40% of its annual output. New filmmakers such as John Torres, Raya Martin and Alfred Adlawan join veterans Doy Del Mundo, Roxlee and Lav Diaz in this re-energized film movement.

Neighboring Malaysia gets the spotlight with a tribute to prolific filmmaker M Amin, who has made 24 features, of which three will screen.

Four local pics include “The Art of Flirting,” debut feature from Kan Lume, which has also been selected for the Jeonju fest, and Kelvin Tong’s “Love Story.”

Also premiering is “Singapore Dreaming,” a poignant tale of a typical family coming to grips with its aspirations, helmed, written and produced by Woo Yen Yen and Colin Goh (“Talking Cock”).

Closing the fest is Tan’s acclaimed “4:30,” the story of lonely child Xiao Wu, who develops a fascination for a Korean neighbor.

SIFF will culminate in the Silver Screen Awards, with prizes for Asian feature film and Singapore short film.