Against The Hype

movies, criticism and their pleasures

SIFF 2011: What I’m Watching at the Singapore International Film Festival

August 28, 2011 By: Colin Low Category: Announcements

It’s easy to keep mum on a blog called Against the Hype. When you only hunt down movies that critics you trust have been raving about, it’s hard to go off consensus. When you otherwise discover movies you have no strong frame of reference to discuss, as I have been doing for the past year in arthouses around Chicago, it’s presumptuous to mouth off without first wondering what kinds of viewing practices you’re failing to adopt to charitably appreciate them.

But I’m breaking my long silence, because this is the first year I’m looking forward to the Singapore International Film Festival after having been broken-in to the arthouse realm, and the line-up is mouthwatering. Kudos to the festival programmers!

Below the jump, you’ll find the current list of movies to which I intend to buy tickets, once the box office has opened on Sept 2. I’ve basically picked each movie for at least one of three reasons:

  1. It’s been nominated for Best Director at the festival’s Silver Screen Awards competition, an endorsement I trust handily more than Best Film;
  2. It hails from South Korea, whose country’s auteurial output I’ve been unjustifiably enamoured with ever since watching Lee Chang-dong’s Poetry and (more importantly) Bong Joon-ho’s Mother last year; or
  3. It’s been directed or acted in by filmmakers that I’m intrigued to know more about, namely Werner Herzog and Wim Wenders in their 3D documentary showdown, as well as French acting goddess Catherine Deneuve.

So please:

  1. Check out the SIFF schedule yourself and think about which movies you’d like to watch. I’m already getting a 10% discount for buying tickets to this many movies, so if you’d like to hop on, let me know before this Friday.
  2. Let me know if there are any movies I’m not seeing that you think I should! Sadly, there are some juicy choices that I’ll have to miss, either because I can’t be in two places at once, or because I’ll be flying back to Chicago for my sophomore year in the wee hours of Sept 23.
  3. Stay tuned. I’ll have more to say about the SIFF, now that I’ve essentially defibrillated this blog…


Rolling Home with a Bull (dir. Yim Soon Rye, South Korea, PG, 106 min)
Lido 2 – 16 September, 7.15pm
Nominated for Best Performance at Silver Screen Awards 2011

Buddha Mountain (dir. Li Yu, China, NC16, 105 min)
Lido 2 – 16 September, 9.30pm
Nominated for Best Film, Best Director, Best Performance at Silver Screen Awards 2011

Cave of Forgotten Dreams (dir. Werner Herzog, Germany, G, 90min)
Lido 4 – 17 September, 3.30pm
3D documentary about the Chauvet Cave, which holds the earliest cave paintings known to man. Directed by a key figure of New German Cinema

Pina (dir. Wim Wenders, Germany, PG, 106min)
Lido 1 – 17 September, 5pm
Lido 4 – 19 September, 9.30pm
3D documentary about groundbreaking dance choreographer Pina Bausch, who died two days before filming began. Also directed by a key figure of New German Cinema

Secret Reunion (dir. Jang Hun, South Korea, TBC, 116min)
Lido 2 – 18 September, 11am
Nominated for Best Film, Best Performance at Silver Screen Awards 2011

Animal Town (dir. Jeon Kyu-Hwan, South Korea/USA, R21, 97min)
Lido 7 – 18 September, 3.30pm
Nominated for Best Film, Best Performance at Silver Screen Awards 2011

The Yellow Sea (dir. Na Hong-jun, South Korea, R21, 157 min)
Lido 7 – 18 September, 6.30pm

Potiche (dir. François Ozon, France, M18, 103 min)
Lido 5 – 19 September, 7.15pm
Features major French actress Catherine Deneuve in a comic star turn.

beside(s,) happiness (dir. Heiward Mak, Hong Kong, TBC, 54 min)
Sinema – 20 September, 7pm
Nominated for Best Film, Best Director at Silver Screen Awards 2011

The Journals of Musan (dir. Park Jung-bum, South Korea, M18, 127 min)
Lido 7 – 21 September, 9.30pm
Nominated for Best Film at Silver Screen Awards 2011

Singapore Short Film Finalists 2 (M18, 77 min)
Sinema – 22 September, 7.30pm
Sisters (dir. Lincoln Chia) and Hentak Kaki (dir. James Khoo) both nominated for Best Film, Best Director at Singapore Short Film Competition
Band of Mischief (dir. Kenneth Lee) nominated for Best Director, Best Performance
First Breath After Coma (dir. Logavel Balakrishnan) nominated for Best Performance

6 Comments to “SIFF 2011: What I’m Watching at the Singapore International Film Festival”

  1. I can put in a recommendation for On Tour. It’s a pretty genial (although ultimately melancholic), loosely structured and surprisingly well-directed film with Amalric front and centre (upgrade to a must see if you’re at all a fan of the guy). Although looking at the schedule it might make it difficult to get up the next day…

    Submarine is good fun but you’ll need a reasonably high tolerance for quirk and coming of age stories.

    Enjoy Pina. It’s flat out amazing what Wenders does with space, and as weird as it sounds in relation a dance film, narrative structure.

    (And I probably shouldn’t mention this but it’s a real shame you can’t see Silent Souls which has a strong contender for my favourite scene of the year.)

    • Colin Low says:

      GlenH – I would’ve loved to watch On Tour based on your rec (and that Cannes Best Director prize), but I can’t, and not because I have a flight to catch a few hours later. Rather, the venues for this festival are inexplicably far apart, and there’s no way I could get from Sinema (where I’m seeing an anthology of Singapore short films) to the Arts House in just ten minutes. Local short films are notoriously hard to watch apart from festival screenings such as these, so I’ll take my chances coming across On Tour at some other time and place. Thanks nonetheless for the heads-up! (The same goes for Silent Souls: this can’t be my only chance to encounter it, so at least now you’ve put me on the lookout.)

      I hold Juno and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist rather dear, so Submarine might just be for me. Will see how it fits the rest of my (non-festival) schedule.

      Can’t wait to see what Wenders serves up!

  2. I saw CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS at the Melbourne International Film Festival as was pretty let down by it. That said, you’ve got a great looking selection of films here – I’ve heard THE YELLOW SEA is especially strong. Looking forward to reading your coverage!

  3. Hi Colin,

    I’m Siew Ling, festival manager of this year’s SIFF. Came across your blog and wanted to drop a note to thank you for your support and enthusiasm about the festival this year.

    I’m sure you’ll enjoy the films you’ve picked – Rolling Home With A Bull is hilarious, and Animal Town is an intense, unforgettable work that will stay with you long after the film is over.

    My apologies for the inconvenience of simultaneous screenings at different locations. As SIFF occurs during the F1 season, it wasn’t easy securing available spaces for the event. So we had to go with these venues. But we’ll definitely take note of your feedback, and perhaps look for ways to solve the problem next year when we’re back with an equally mouth-watering line-up!

    In the meantime, drop us a line anytime if you have more questions or feedback. Cheers, and we can’t wait to see you at SIFF 2011!

    P.S.: Perhaps you can still make it for Everyone’s Gotta Start Somewhere – The Singapore Edition. We have a second screening of Pina on 19 September, 9.30 pm. You can go for that right after Potiche 😉 some of the directors will be present at the screening, it would be great if you could go!

    • Colin Low says:

      Hi Siew Ling,

      Thanks for taking the time to drop by! I’m looking forward to many of these films, so I’m sorry if any of my gripes about my difficulties in trying to schedule them came across the wrong way. Hope I can re-stress just how grateful I am to have a chance to see all these films here in Singapore, and for all the work that you guys must be doing behind the scenes. I hadn’t thought of the overlap with the F1 season, since I don’t follow that at all, but it must be great (and challenging, of course) to have a concurrent high-profile event like that to bring even more potential traffic to SIFF.

      A question: are there plans to hold the SIFF around this time in future years? I remember being incredibly excited that this year’s festival had been moved from April to September, because I’ll only be in Singapore during the summer period of June-Sept.


      P.S. Your suggestion to swap Cave of Forgotten Dreams for Everyone’s Gotta Start Somewhere sounds good, though it’s made me realise that I might be more attached to the prospect of watching Cave than I initially thought (or made myself sound). Will consider it, thanks!

      • Hi Colin,

        No worries – it’s perfectly understandable, I’d be pretty hard pressed myself to decide between which films to catch and which to miss.

        At this point, we really can’t say for sure whether SIFF will remain in September. We’ll have to wait and see, and come to a decision only after this year’s SIFF has concluded. Having said that, the general consensus so far here is that we’re liking the Aug-Sept window. So, fingers crossed!


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