5 underrated films to watch when SGIFF returns tomorrow

It’s the landmark event all cinephiles in Singapore have been waiting for—the Singapore International Film Festival 2018 officially returns Nov 28, with another blockbuster line-up of award-winning films to show. Fresh off tours at film festivals around the globe, each film was hand-selected amongst thousands to showcase the best of local and regional cinema. As tickets continue to fly off the shelves, we picked out five captivating Southeast Asian stories—ranging from horror to thriller and even experimental documentary—that are worth the watch.


Let’s hear it for a Singaporean work—described as a “sonic adventure”, Cannonball is a music documentary by local sound duo ARE (comprising Mark Chua and Lam Li Shuen). But this is no ordinary music documentary. The Singapore-based musicians and filmmakers have injected their keen interest in absurdist narratives into this wild journey, framed as a self-satirising travelogue of their album tour through Australia. With its provocative blend of fiction and fantasy, psychedelia and amateur home video, Cannonball proves if anything that Singaporeans definitely have the capacity to think outside the box. Dec 2, 7pm, The Cathay


, 5 underrated films to watch when SGIFF returns tomorrow

Convent horror is surely having a moment these days. But the freaky nuns of the US have nothing on our convent-school horror, teased through the lens of an Asian sensibility. Filipino filmmaker Mikhail Red takes us to 1995 Philippines, where guidance counsellor Pat is a listening ear for the students of St Lucia’s Convent. It’s already a place with a dark past—two suicides years apart, in the same bathroom stall; but things get even eerier when another girl dies, and Pat discovers the convent’s history of physical punishment and abuse. As she digs deeper into the mystery, there’s no guarantee she won’t emerge a changed woman. Oh and did we mention that all this while she’s been able to communicate with the first girl who died? Dec 3, 8pm, Capitol Theatre

The Third Wife

Gripping from start to finish, this period drama of love and lust is the debut feature by young Vietnamese filmmaker Ash Mayfair. In 19th Century Vietnam, 14-year-old May is about to become the third wife of a wealthy landowner, with whom she will quickly curry favour—as all shiny new objects do. But when she stumbles upon a dark family secret, May will have to grapple with the newfound loss of her youthful innocence and a tumultuous journey of self-discovery. And like any great story, this one is inspired by true events. Dec 4, 7pm and Dec 6, 9:30pm, National Gallery Singapore

The Iron Ladies

, 5 underrated films to watch when SGIFF returns tomorrow

Another true-story-turned-movie, The Iron Ladies is an LGBT narrative that for once, isn’t tragic. The 2000 comedy film by Yongyoot Thongkongtoon is a lighthearted tale chronicling the journey of a 1996 real-life men’s volleyball team The Iron Ladies, composed mainly of gay and transgender athletes. While the real team went on to win the men’s title at the Thai national volleyball championships, the film focuses first on the ups and downs of leads Mon and Jung, who have to find a team accepting of their identities amid countless rejections from other volleyball coaches. Prepare to watch what will probably be the fiercest volleyball match ever, shot in nostalgic technicolour awesomeness. Dec 6, 7pm, National Gallery Singapore

Alpha, The Right To Kill

It’s always a somber watch when a narrative film takes on real-life politics in the world. From Filipino filmmaker Brillante Mendoza, Alpha, The Right To Kill reveals the dark underbelly of a city increasingly ripped apart by its government’s war on drugs. Espino, a mercenary in the Manila police force, is part of a sting to arrest one of the city’s biggest drug lords—but when a violent confrontation spirals out of control, leaving Espino and a drug-pusher mole faced with a backpack full of meth, the once honest cop has to deal with the weight of his hasty decisions. Dec 7, 11:55pm, Filmgarde Bugis+

Singapore International Film Festival 2018 runs from Nov 28-Dec 9 across multiple venues. More information available here.