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Singapore on Celluloid

Singapore on Celluloid
Three days, three films, three filmmakers. The third Singapore Film Festival will take place at the India Habitat Centre today onwards. Organised by the Singapore High Commission in the national Capital in, the festival will feature a diverse mix of films specially selected to showcase Singapore’s creative talents. The festival will feature an omnibus film by seven top directors, a whimsical documentary on street performers, and a series of quirky animation shorts.

The festival opens today with 7 Letters – Singapore’s official entry to the Oscars Best Foreign Language Film category this year. It features seven of Singapore’s top filmmakers who made seven short films, or ‘love letters’, on what Singapore means to them. They include award-winning filmmakers Eric Khoo and Boo Junfeng, whose film The Apprentice was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The screening will be followed by a dialogue with filmmaker K Raja Gopal, whose offering in 7 Letters focuses on the Indian migrant experience in Singapore. 

“Being of Indian origin as my ancestors came from India and making a film about the history of the Indian minority community in Singapore, it will be good to see how the audience in India would respond not just to my segment but the whole which definitely celebrates and explores some social issues faced by a multi racial and lingual society we live in over time,” said K Raja Gopal, director of 7 Letters. 

Raja Gopal remains Singapore’s main artiste who makes films with an Indian perspective.
Singapore Minstrel, a film on Singapore’s street performers, is to be screened on August 6. The film revolves around Roy Payamal, a veteran Singaporean busker of Indian origin. Directed by his romantic partner Ng Xi Jie, the film dives deep into Payamal’s life and art. It defies genres in its fluid use of documentary and fictional elements – from interviews to re-enactments of events to raw footage of everyday life, which Payamal captures on his mobile phone. The screening will be followed by a dialogue with Payamal and Ng, herself a multidisciplinary artist who works in the fields of performance, literature, illustration and cinema. 

“I hope to bring a bit of little-known, wild Singapore to the crazy, magic land of India which has inspired my work and soul. It’s very special to take Singapore Minstrel to a country I love, and where half of Roy’s roots are. I’m looking forward to meeting Indian audiences. The film is my way of raising a flag to freedom and being true to yourself,” informed Ng Xie Jie.

The festival concludes on August 7 with ‘Utter’ – a series of three animation short films based on the literary works by Singapore authors. The film premiered at the Singapore Writers’ Festival 2015 to critical acclaim. The screening will be followed by a workshop by internationally-celebrated animation artist Tan Wei Keong, who will speak on Singapore’s animation industry and his creative process and craftsmanship.

Kester Tay, festival programmer and First Secretary at the Singapore High Commission said: “In India, Singapore carries an image of a cosmopolitan, technology-enabled nation. Through the Singapore Film Festival, we hope to show a softer and artistic side of our country. We have come a long way as a young, migrant nation and have many unique stories to tell. We hope they would touch Indian audiences and deepen understanding between our cultures.”
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