New Delhi, August 2017: Singapore cinema has been gaining international recognition. Last year, two Singaporean films – ‘Apprentice’ by Boo Junfeng and ‘A Yellow Bird’ by K Rajagopal – made it to the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. At the same time, Singapore folk music, ‘Xin Yao’ (meaning ‘Singapore songs’ in Chinese), has been going through a revival. This genre of music with its heartfelt lyrics and melodies has inspired films and singers, who have come up with modern renditions of the songs.
Delhiites will get a chance to enjoy these films and songs at the fourth Singapore Film Festival this year. The festival will take place at Siri Fort Auditorium II, New Delhi on 1st, 2nd and 3rd September 2017. Organised by the Singapore High Commission in New Delhi in partnership with the Directorate of Film Festivals, India, the festival will feature five films, each followed by dialogues with filmmakers and experts. Entry is open to public and free on a first-come-first-served basis.
Besides ‘Apprentice’ and ‘A Yellow Bird’, two films on ‘Xin Yao’ will be screened. ‘That Girl in a Pinafore’ is a coming-of age tale centered on a group of teenagers and their dedication to ‘Xin Yao’. The screening will be followed by a dialogue with director Yee Wei Chai and composer Zennon Goh, who produced the songs in the film and is one of the pioneers of the ‘Xin Yao’ movement. ‘The Songs We Sang’ is an uplifting documentary about the origins and impact of ‘Xin Yao’ in Singapore. The screening will be followed by a dialogue with Zennon Goh and a performance by Singaporean guitarist and singer Zi Jian Tan. This will be the first ever ‘Xin Yao’ music performance in Delhi. The festival will conclude with ‘7 Letters’, which features seven short films by Singapore’s seven top filmmakers.
‘A Yellow Bird’ director K Rajagopal will also be present to talk about his film, which was screened at the International Critics’ Week at the Cannes Film Festival in 2016. Rajagopal remains Singapore’s main artist who makes films with an Indian perspective. He also contributed a film exploring the Indian migrant experience in Singapore in ‘7 Letters’.
A Singapore-India filmmakers’ residency exchange program will be held concurrently with the film festival. Budding Singaporean filmmaker Kang Sheng Tang will spend a month in India shooting scenes for a short film, while Indian filmmaker Daljit Ami will spend a month in Singapore shooting a documentary on the British Indian army forces in Singapore during World War I. Tang and Ami will talk about their filmmaking experiences and goals for the residency exchange programme at a special session during the film festival.
Kester Tay, festival programmer and First Secretary at the Singapore High Commission said: “In the spirit of cultural exchange, we wanted to share with our friends in India works that have to mean for us, Singaporeans. It was a matter of great pride for us to see two home-grown filmmakers’ works screen at Cannes. It showed that Singapore has stories to tell which can resonate with Singaporean as well as international audiences. We hope that Indian audiences will enjoy the two films too.
We are also showcasing ‘Xin Yao’, which rarely travels outside Singapore. For many Singaporeans, the songs evoke memories of the idealism and simplicity of their youth and hold much sentimental value. We hope that through music we can bring our two cultures in Singapore and India closer and see that we really have more in common than not.”
Quotation from Directorate of Film Festivals: “As Directorate of Film Festivals, the Directorate organizes film festivals in collaboration with High commission/ embassies of the other countries as part of Cultural Exchange program. Earlier in this year, Directorate of Film Festivals has organized Indian Film Festival in collaboration with Indian High Commission in Singapore in partnership with the Office of Alumni Relations (OAR), the National University of Singapore in Singapore from 10-12 April 2017.”
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