February in Singapore is packed with unusual, under-the-radar film festivals

Film festivals come in Singapore, and film festivals go, but February 2017 is looking might packed, even by our standards. There are documentaries on human trafficking, 1970s Swedish classics, short documentaries on transgendered teenagers in Thailand and even a Blaxploitation film (at SCUFF). Here’s what to catch.

Swedish Film Fest (Feb 16-19)

After a super successful first edition last year, the Swedish Film Festival is back again, with a major retrospective comprising the bulk of the programming. The core of the program comprises films by Swedish auteur Roy Andersson, famous for his comedic takes on the absurdities of Swedish society. The festival will screen five of his features, including his 1970 debut A Swedish Love Story, a teen romance that won best film at Guldbagge Awards (aka the Swedish Oscars). Apart from the Roy Andersson classics, other contemporary selections we look forward to are Nice People, a documentary following Somali refugees in Sweden training for an ice hockey world competition despite zero experience in sports. A straight-up comedy to catch is We Are The Best by Lukas Moodysson, set in 1982 Stockholm, revolving around a pair of awkward tweens who form a super cool punk band with a shy Christian girl in a bid to repel their bullies.  
How much: $13.50 (concession tickets available at $11.50)
Where: The Projector

Human Trafficking Film Forum (Feb 17- Aug 5)

In a bid to raise awareness about modern-day slavery around Asia, Singapore-based anti-human trafficking organization EmancipAsia is screening a series of documentaries over the next few months.Now in it’s sixth year, the film series brings us titles like Untouchable, Children of Godabout the state of young Nepalese children trafficked into India’s brothels and The Giant Ocean Case (Jul 1) revealing the deplorable circumstances exploited fishermen who bring us the seafood we eat. Then there’s MTVs devastating Enslaved (Apr 21), which follows the lives of trafficked persons in a whopping 13 countries, from Japan and Korea to Myanmar and Cambodia. 

How much: Free
Where: The Arts House

Red Dot Cinema (Feb 24)

Singapore film festival Red Dot Cinema, dedicated to Asian shorts is bringing seven award-winning titles from Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Korea and Thailand, touching everything from issue-based documentary to Taiwanese animation. Among the seven films are Consider, a documentary about Tay, a teenage ladyboy managing life at his Christian school as well as in the media spotlight; Hentak Kaki, about second warrant officer Teck Hong as he decides whether to continue in the army or face the outside world at the age of 38. For something really intense, check out Japanese film Clockwork, which revolves around a couple falling out of love, but still dependent on each other to wind the keys on their backs that keep them alive. Free popcorn will also be served at the festival.

How much: $15 (early bird); $18
Where: JustCo, #16-01 6 Raffles Quay

SCUFF (Feb 24-26)

The Singapore Cult and Underground Film Festival (SCUFF) is back to showcase a slew of strange, cult, zany and eclectic films. This year, it will feature American black and white horror film The Eyes of My Mother, a visually disturbing portrayal of a woman who goes on a killing spree after witnessing her mother’s murder as a child; then there’s Coffy, a famous Blaxploitation flick about a woman looking for vigilante justice after her sister gets sent to the hospital because of because of a drug peddler. There’s also Prison on Fire, the Hong Kong prison film with two cinematic biggies, Chow Yun Fatt and Tony Leung. And music fans: Gimme Danger, a comprehensive documentary about the legendary alternative rock band The Stooges, is making its premiere in Singapore.

How much: Tickets are from $13 (or you can watch all for $42)
Where: Alliance Francaise