Singapore South Asian International Film Festival (Sg.SAIFF) is devoted to a greater appreciation of South Asian cinema and culture. The festival seeks to support emerging filmmakers, open a fertile space for dialogue and collaborations within the industry, and most significantly share with the audience of Singapore the diverse and complex experiences of South Asia through the intimate storytelling medium of cinema.
Sg. SAIFF is founded by the core team of ‘Muvizz’, a Video on Demand(VOD) platform, with the impetus to effectively channel the expansion of South Asian cinema beyond the subcontinent and engage with a wider spectrum of audience. Singapore with its sizable population of South Asian descent, is a natural choice for this purpose. Supported by the Singapore Indian High Commission(IHC), and Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS), National University of Singapore, the festival is a landmark initiative to serve as a cultural gateway between the global city of Singapore and the developing nations of South Asia.
The 2017 festival will be held from 1st to 10th September, across various prominent venues of the city. The festival showcases forty feature films, shorts and documentaries from India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Nepal and Bangladesh, as well as a special screening from Singapore, carefully culled out from recent productions to exhibit new films of emerging film makers as well as anticipated titles by established ones. Apart from screenings, the vibrant week long festival offers an eclectic mix of events and programs - World premiere, screenings, workshops, award ceremonials, panel discussions, master classes and music performances.
With its eclectic mix of events, Sg.SAIFF hopes to provide an entertaining, immersive as well as enriching environment to enable a new vibrant film community to develop in Singapore.
The festival will commence with the grand and ceremonious red carpet World Premiere of Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai with the cast and crew (Director Soumitra Ranade, and cast Manav Kaul and Saurabh Shukla), in attendance along with a bevy of celebrities at the Cathay theatre, Handy Road. This critically acclaimed film pays homage to Indian auteur Sayeed Mirza’s 1980s cult classic by the same title, similarly while exploring the trope of anger in the contemporary context through a forceful and conflicted central character.
The festival team has been overwhelmed and pleased by the scale and quality of films submitted for the inaugural year and after much careful assessment, the programming team has finally shortlisted forty titles under ‘Showcase’ and ‘Competition’ categories. A key highlight of the festival is the screening of Afghanistan director Siddiq Barmak’s Osama (2003), which has won the Golden Globe for ‘Best Foreign Film’.
Other important screenings include film veteran Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s The Bait (2016), Singaporean director K. Rajagopal’s much acclaimed film A Yellow Bird (2016), Bangladesh’s director, Mostofa Sarwar Farooki’s Television (2013), Girish Kasravalli’s new documentary film, Images/Reflections (2015), Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s Once Again, Leena Yadav’s Parched (2015), and a much anticipated Bengali film Roktokorobi (2017), by young promising Bangladesh director Amitabh Bhattacharya, based on Rabindranath Tagore’s iconic dance drama of the same title.
The festival is also pleased to host in Singapore a trio of cinema luminaries who revolutionized Indian cinema in the 1970s and 80s- Dada Saheb Phalke Awardee, Adoor Gopalkrishnan, Padma Shri Awardee and winner of fourteen National awards, Girish Kasaravalli and veteran poet and film maker Buddhadeb Dasgupta. The three will be conducting master classes, sharing with the audience fascinating accounts of their long and impactful journey in the world of cinema. Two major workshops conducted over five sessions will aim at providing useful insights and tools to aspiring film makers in the field of acting, directing and writing. The workshops will be conducted by famous Indian actor Manoj Bajpayee and theatre director Ashok Purang.
The festival screenings will be complimented with a stimulating panel discussion:
Besides showcasing films of renowned film makers, Sg.SAIFF will also serve as a platform to present and recognize fresh and upcoming talent through its special ‘Competition’ category screenings. Awards will be given by a jury of four distinguished filmmakers- Mostofa Sarwar Farooki from Bangladesh, Siddiq Barmak from Afghanistan, K.Rajagopal from Singapore and Prasanna Vithanage from Sri Lanka. The jury will preview films and judge for three categories- Best Short Film, Best Documentary Film and Best Feature Film.
The curtains come down on the festival’s tenth day with much fanfare and celebration. Two spellbinding musical performances will be presented by the widely followed popular Indian singers, Mohit Chauhan and Neha Kakkar.
Mohit Chauhan is a prolific Indian singer best known for his playback singing for popular Hindi films such as Rang De Basanti, Rockstar, Jab We Met, Love Aaj Kal, Delhi-6 and many others.
Neha Kakkar shot to fame with her performance on ‘Indian Idol’ TV show in 2006. Her most popular songs as playback singer include ‘London Thumakda’ and ‘Manali Trance’.
Awards for the competition category films will be announced and given out on the closing day by esteemed South Asian dignitaries. Three honorary awards commissioned by the Indian High Commission(IHC), and Institute of South Asian Studies(ISAS-NUS) will also be given to eminent figures for their contribution to South Asian Indian art and culture. The awardees for this year are, legendary lyricist, poet and scriptwriter, Javed Akhtar, renowned film, theatre and television actress, Shabana Azmi, popular Indian actor, Abhay Deol, and veteran actor and festival mentor, Manoj Bajpayee.
Gala Opening Celebrities- Javed Akhtar, Shabana Azmi, Manoj Bajpayee, Abhay Deol, along with regional cinema stars like Mumtaz Sorcar, and singers Mohit Chauhan and Neha Kakkar.
Other Celebrities- Adoor Gopalakirishnan, Girish Kasaravalli, Buddhadeb Dasgupta, Siddiq Barmak, Prasanna Vithanage, Mustafa Sarwar Farooqi and K Rajagopal, Saurabh Shukla, Manav Kaul