Singaporean actors Sheila Sim, Sunny Pang and Shane Mardjuki were among the special guests who graced the gala opening of the 33rd Singapore International Film Festival at the dedicated arthouse cinema Projector Picturehouse.
The trio headlines Boi Kwong’s ‘Geylang’, a breathtaking full-throttle crime thriller set in Singapore’s infamous red-light district. The film will be screened in the Singapore Panorama sidebar of the festival for local filmmakers.
“I am pleased that local films make up a quarter of the total line-up at the festival this year. It is a strong show and a testament to the achievements of our homegrown talents.” said Josephine Teo, Secretary of Communications and Information. “We welcome and appreciate good films from all over the world. At the same time, we will always support local filmmakers through platforms such as the Singapore Media Festival and SGIFF and help them shine better on the international stage.”
Kazakh actors Berik Aytzhanov and Daniyar Alshinov were two of the few foreign personalities to walk the red carpet in support of their film ‘Assault’, the festival’s opening film.
Opera Tang, the drag performer and protagonist of the documentary “Baby Queen”, also walked the red carpet. Along with other drag performers, Ada Heart and Femme Fartale, Tang brought a splash of color with her Teochew opera-inspired makeup and gold flapper dress by Singaporean designer Dennes Prive.
Directed by Singaporean Lei Yuan Bin, “Baby Queen” was a late addition to the lineup and follows Tang’s life and relationship with her 90-year-old grandmother. The film’s LGBT subject matter is poignant in light of recent LGBT-friendly political developments. The city-state recently voted to repeal a British-era law that decriminalized sexual relations between men.
Noticeably absent were the cast and crew of the banned film #Lookatme, though actor Shane Mardjuki wore a T-shirt with the film’s logo in support. The film will not be screened at the festival after its depiction of a revenge plot against a Christian pastor was deemed by authorities to violate racial and religious guidelines. However, it remains on the festival’s lineup. Director Ken Kwek’s 2012 film “Sex.Violence.FamilyValues” also fell foul of similar guidelines. It was banned in neighboring Malaysia for scenes that “offend local cultures.”
The festival runs from November 24 to December 4.