Film festival season is back and more exciting than ever

So if you’ve already caught Crazy Rich Asians (hold up; no need for a pseudo-intellectual debate here), and the local cinema line-ups are looking pretty bleak. Luckily for you, a fresh crop of film festivals have exploded onto the island, proffering a stellar selection of indies, award-winning documentaries, art house films and more. Here’s to helping you plan your calendar and budget way in advance.

CANA Film Festival (Through Sep 30)

Are you a good Catholic who appreciates wholesome films? Doesn’t matter—the third edition of the CANA Film Festival promises a line-up of documentaries and independent feature films sure to impress, regardless of whether you can appreciate its focus on Catholic social teachings. On Sep 8, catch a series of Singaporean shorts exploring the notion of home (I Want To Go Home, A Day’s Reunion and Shelter), or a heartwarming documentary on the dangerous rescue of elephants in Thailand, Love and Bananas. There’s also a documentary following a trauma counsellor on the remote Christmas Island, Island of the Hungry Ghosts (Sep 9); Summer in the Forest (Sep 15), a tale of spirit and hope about four people with intellectual disabilities who create a commune at the brink of a Parisian forest; and closing film on everyone’s favorite woke Pope, Pope Francis: A Man of His Word (Sep 13 & 22).

MINDS Film Festival (Sep 15-Oct 7)

, Film festival season is back and more exciting than ever

For an international film showcase with a message, make a date with the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) Film Festival, held in partnership with the Singapore Film Society. Returning for its third edition, the festival aims to raise awareness for persons with intellectual disability (PWIDs), and will screen six films from South Korea, Ireland, Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore.

A first for the festival, two original short films commissioned by MINDS and produced by Royston Tan’s Chuan Pictures will have their premiere, as shorts screened before the start of the six films—Rehearsal showcases the talented Taiko drummers from MINDS, while Layang-Layang Terbang Melayang (which translates to ‘The Kite Soars High’) spotlights a caregiver’s demise. The six full-length features include Swim Team, a documentary chronicling the rise of a competitive swim team of teenagers on the autism spectrum; Korean film Marathon on an autistic youth training to become a marathon runner; comedy drama Sanctuary that probes at love between two PWIDs; and Singaporean film The Wayang Kids, which tackles the topic via primary school kids preparing for a Chinese opera performance.

Argentine Film Festival (Sep 20-23)

Are we even surprised that another film festival is screening at The Projector? This time, it’s the inaugural Argentine Film Festival, with six acclaimed films from Argentina covering animation to comedy. Opening the festival is The German Doctor Wakolda (Sep 20), on the true story of Nazi war criminal Joseph Mengele as he found refuge with a Patagonian family under a secret identity. Then there’s literally meaty documentary All About Asado (Sep 22) that spotlights the country’s tradition of barbecue; animated adventure Underdogs (Sep 23) about the players of a soccer foosball team coming to life; and Wild Tales (Sep 23)—an anthology of six dark but hilarious, apocalyptic narratives of revenge.

Malaysian Film Festival (Sep 28-30)

Support our brothers from across the Causeway, as The Arts House celebrates the very best of Malaysian cinema in one weekend. Curated by Malaysian filmmaker Hassan Muthalib, or the Father of Malaysian Animation, this second edition of the festival features six films spanning the genres of action, comedy, horror and drama. For something light, there’s comedy film Nasi Lemak 2.0 (Sep 29 & 30) that dives into the symbolism of our shared national dish; or Haunted Hotel (Sep 30) if you’re looking to extend the Hungry Ghost Month mood.

Women in Film (Oct 10-13)

Objectifs’ annual Women in Film and Photography showcase returns for its fourth year, with the Singapore premieres of four international feature films and a free short film programme. While last year’s edition focused on works exploring domesticity and family, this year’s will take on the theme of collective power—a timely focus after movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp of the past year. There’s the documentary On Her Shoulders, which follows survivor of the 2014 Yazidi genocide Nadia Murad as she’s forced to become a public face for survivors on a global stage; Waru presents eight Maori female perspectives on the complexity of child abuse; coming-of-age film Ava spotlights personal, emotional growth in the conservative and patriarchal society of Tehran; and finally, A Better Man is a fresh, real-life look at abuse, through director Attiya Khan’s true story of domestic violence, years later when she meets up with the man she once fled from. A series of shorts will also be screened on loop for free at the Lower Gallery.

B.Y.O Cinema (Through Nov 10)

, Film festival season is back and more exciting than ever

The Singapore Film Commission is celebrating its 20th anniversary with five free pop-up film screenings from now till November. All uniquely Singaporean, the five films cover the themes Laugh, Dream Scream, Heart, and Makan. In that order, there’s getai comedy drama 881 (Sep 1), Jack Neo classic Homerun (Sep 22), Malaysian-Singaporean horror flick 23:59 (Oct 13) about spooks in the army, the award-winning family drama Ilo Ilo (Oct 20), and Eric Khoo’s food porn fantasia Ramen Teh (Nov 10). The films will be screened at locations like Fort Canning Park and Botanic Gardens, where there’ll also be free popcorn and the occasional food truck; all you have to do is bring your own picnic mat.

Can’t afford to shell out for a film screening? Stream these horror movies in time for Seventh Month here.