What to catch at this year’s Singapore International Film Festival

One of our favorite events of the year, the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) is back for a second year in a row (after a hiatus in the recent past), with 146 feature and short films selected from over 1,400 submissions. Can’t watch them all? Here are some highlights you might not want to miss.

1. Mexican cinema takes the spotlight

The Mexicans have been sweeping accolades in Hollywood, with directors Alfonso Cuaron and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu winning Oscars in 2014 and 2015 respectively. This year’s SGIFF reflects that with its line-up of works such as director Celso Garcia’s debut feature The Thin Yellow Line, a collaboration with Guillermo Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth). Another must-watch, The Obscure Spring by Ernesto Contreras was a hit at Sundance, the Tokyo International Film Festival and the 60th Cannes Film Festival. 

2. Local classics make a comeback

You might remember that we wrote about a screening of Mee Pok Man happening on Nov 29, 7:00pm. Based on a short story by local auteur Damien Sin, this dysfunctional love story follows a noodle hawker’s obsession with a prostitute. And for an uninhibited peek into the transgender community of Bugis Street in the ’60’s, catch Hong Kong-based director Yonfan’s Bugis Street Redux on Nov 28 at 7:00pm.

3. There’s something for horror fans too

Ludo, a thriller by Kolkatan filmmakers Qaushiq Mukherjee and Rajarshi Basu might be a little hard to stomach, even for hardened viewers. It tells the story of a group of youths playing a game of Ludo with a creepy old couple, after which all hell breaks loose. Other heart-pumping screenings include Violator by Filipino director Dodo Dayo, about the weird and foreboding happenings in a down-and-out city; Demon by Polish director Marcin Wrona, which shows the horrors faced by guests at a Polish wedding when a “dybbuk” possesses the groom and The Invitation by Karyn Kusama (Jennifer’s Body) a tale of how paranoia and suspicion runs rampant at a seemingly innocuous dinner party.

4. And if you’re game, a dose of avant garde

Pushing the boundaries of conventional film making are screenings such as Canadian film maker Guy Maddin’s The Forbidden Room, which showcases disjointed sequences playing out in an amnesiac’s mind, including but not limited to a submarine crew, a vicious gang of forest bandits and a birthday penthouse. Videophilia (And Other Viral Syndromes) is another head scratcher by director Juan Daniel F. Molero, who mashes Internet lingo, animated gifs and social media (how very current) in a movie about a group of bored Peruvian teenagers. There’s sex, drugs, alcohol, parties and mysticism.

5. Interesting films about marginalized communities

We’re super excited about documentary A Sinner in Mecca by gay Indian director Parvez Sharma (A Jihad for Love), which chronicles his pilgrimage in a story about faith and sexuality. In Songs My Brothers Taught Me, by Chinese filmmaker Chloe Zhao, contemporary life in America’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation takes center stage. For an in-depth look into China’s cotton industry, director Zhou Hao tracks the lives of laborers through cotton fields, clothing factories and dormitories in Cotton.

Tickets to each screening go from $25 for opening films, $15 for special presentation films and $12 for all other films at Sistic. For a full list of screenings, head here.