By Aditi Patwardhan. Posted on October 21, 2015
The Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) which is to be held from 26th of November to 6th December has just unveiled its full line-up, where a total of five Indian films are going to be showcased. The 11 day long SGIFF is the longest running international film platform in South East Asia.
The Indian films selected across various sections are Gurvinder Singh’s Chouthi Koot (The Fourth Direction), Pan Nalin's Angry Indian Goddesses, Quashiq Mukherjee aka Q and Nikon’s Ludo, Parvez Sharma’s documentary A Sinner in Mecca and Payal Kapadia’s short film The Last Mango Before the Monsoon.
Gurvinder Singh’s Chouthi Koot will compete along with 10 other Asian films for the Silver Screen Award. Introduced by the Festival in 1991, the Silver Screen Awards are divided into two categories: Asian Feature Film Competition and Southeast Asian Short Film Competition. Awards include Best Film, Best Director, Best Performance and Special Mention. Gurvinder Singh is one of the most unique voices to have emerged in India in recent times. He is best known for his first feature film Anhe Ghore Da Daan (Alms for a Blind Horse) which won him National Film Award for Best Direction at the 59th National Film Awards. Chauthi Koot also competed in the Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes Film Festival this year alongside Masaan. The film narrates two different stories set in a post-Operation-Blue-Star Punjab in the ‘80s and is based on writer Waryam Singh Sandhu's collection of short stories of the same name. Portraying performances by non-professional actors, the film explores the dilemma of the common man trapped between excesses of the military on one side and terrorists on the other, leading to an atmosphere of suspicion, fear and paranoia.
Pan Nalin's Angry Indian Goddesses is also creating a buzz across film festival circuits. Having received the first runner-up for the People’s Choice Award at the recently concluded Toronto International Film Festival, Angry Indian Goddesses is now going to be showcased at SGIFF as well. The movie is about a group of women discussing everything from their careers, sex lives, and secrets to nosy neighbours and street harassment, on the eve of their friend’s wedding in Goa. The director is best known for directing the award-winning film Samsara (Grand Jury Prize – Special Mention at AFI Fest and "Most Popular Feature Film" at Melbourne International Film Festival in 2002).
Quashiq Mukherjee or Q has directed another acclaimed film Ludo with Nikon, which is set to be screened at SGIFF this year. Q is known for his aberrant use of imagery in his films like Gandu and Tasher Desh, which received wide critical acclaim outside India. Having a more gruesome and horrific approach than his earlier films, Ludo is about four desperate teenagers who decide to spend one fateful night in a mall in Kolkata. The film opened to rave reviews across festivals.
Parvez Sharma’s A Sinner in Mecca is a 2015 documentary, which chronicles Sharma's Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia as an openly gay Muslim. Documenting his journey on nothing more than an iPhone and two smuggled, tiny cameras, the film reveals a world that has been forbidden to non-Muslims for 14 centuries. The official website of the film states that for a gay filmmaker, filming in Saudi Arabia presents two serious challenges: filming is forbidden in the country and homosexuality is punishable by death. For filmmaker Parvez Sharma, however, these were risks he had to assume as he embarked on his Hajj pilgrimage, a journey considered the greatest accomplishment and aspiration within Islam, his religion. The film premiered at the 2015 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival to great critical acclaim. The film is a New York Times Critics' Pick and opened in theaters in the US on September 4, 2015.
Apart from the feature length films, Indian filmmaker Payal Kapadia’s 19 minute long short film The Last Mango Before the Monsoon has been selected in the Imagine section at SGIFF. Using two fictionalized narratives of two technicians from the Forest Department setting up cameras to document animal activities and a woman who yearns for her dead husband, the work examines a sense of loss amongst people who long for nature.
Started in 1987, SGIFF will showcase an array of 146 films from 51 countries across 11 sections in its 26th edition. Apart from showcasing films of various genres across the globe, the festival is also home to several events like masterclasses, talks, Audience Choice Awards and South East Asian Film Club! Among other highlights of the festival is a five-film tribute to the Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf and the opening film Panay directed by Cheng Yu-chieh and Lekal Sumi. Panay's screening at SGIFF is going to be its international premiere. For the first time the festival will do without a closing film.