27th SGIFF: Telling Our Stories in 2016

The 27th Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF)’s 12-day celebration of independent cinema closed with close to 13,000 local & international festival attendees at its film screenings, talks and masterclasses.

Committed to telling the region’s story through film, SGIFF showcased 161 feature and short films from 52 countries across venues such as Marina Bay Sands, Capitol Theatre and the ArtScience Museum. 11 screenings, including that of four Singapore productions, were sold out. There was also an increase of over 50% in attendance for the masterclasses and talks this year, a testament to the growing support and interest towards independent cinema.

Silver Screen Awards

Absent Without Leave

Winner of Audience Choice Award, Absent Without Leave, by Malaysian director Lau Kek-Huat.

White Sun

Winner of Best Asian Feature Film, White Sun (Seto Surya), directed by Deepak Rauniyar from Nepal.

SGIFF’s competition component, the Silver Screen Awards, saw Absent Without Leave by Malaysian director Lau Kek-Huat emerging as the favourite feature film among festival-goers at this edition of SGIFF’s Audience Choice Award, in recognition of the growing desire by festival-goers for greater involvement. In addition, White Sun (Seto Surya) by Nepalese director Deepak Rauniyar won the Best Asian Feature Film Award for being an “exceptional and incisive film about civil war and memory that encapsulates the never-ending conflict that is the state of the world today, with a message of hope that a different future for all of us can be possible through our children." – 27th SGIFF Jury Citation for White Sun

Other notable award winners include veteran Hong Kong actor Simon Yam, recipient of the Cinema Legend Award, Hong Kong filmmaker Fruit Chan, recipient of the Honorary Award, In The Year of Monkey (Prenjak) by Wregas Bhanuteja, winner of Best South Asian Short Film, and more.

Simon Yam_SGIFF

Cinema Legend Award: Veteran Hong Kong actor Simon Yam

Fruit Chan_SGIFF

Honorary Award: Hong Kong filmmaker Fruit Chan

In The Year of Monkey

Winner of Best Southeast Asian Short Film, In The Year of Monkey (Prenjak), directed by Wregas Bhanuteja.

Anchorage Prohibited

Winner of Best Singapore Short Film, Anchorage Prohibited, directed by Chiang Wei Liang.

Live From Dhaka

Winner of Best Feature Film Director, Live From Dhaka, directed by Abdullah Mohammed Saad.

Browse the full winners list of the 2016 Silver Screen Awards here.

View the red carpet event and award-winning moments here.

Masterclasses and Talks

Several distinguished film personalities conducted masterclasses as well. Some of the acclaimed filmmakers include American film director Darren Aronofsky, Vietnamese-born French filmmaker Tran Anh Hung, and Japanese director Naomi Kawase.

Darren Aronofsky

"Art is all about being honest and truthful. It may put you in jail, but you can't resist it. Your job is to keep telling the truths that you know." - Darren Aronofsky, closing remarks at his Masterclass.

Darren Aronofsky is one of the most ambitious and uncompromising directors in Hollywood, with a steady flow of films that include Requiem for a Dream (2000), Black Swan (2010) and Noah (2014).

“It is something you can see or hear, but a moment that can only be reproduced in film.” - an incident involving a misty mirror that inspired Japanese director Naomi Kawase to make films.

One of the most respected filmmakers of contemporary Japanese cinema, Naomi Kawase, shares 5 things about her inspirations and beliefs.
Read more here.

Naomi Kawase
Tran Anh Hung

“We are trapped by the bigger international festivals in the international scene, where they want to know more about the political socio problems of our countries, but they do not really pay attention to the form and language of cinema. This is something that we need to fight for so that movies will not only go to the festivals only because of a social problem, but a style and form of cinema that is great. Not just about news of the country.” - Tran Anh Hung, Vietnamese-born French filmmaker

With his abstract storytelling and dreamy visual style, Tran Anh Hung’s diverse filmography continues to evolve, challenging his audiences with its nuanced sensuality in its depictions of human relationships.

Best of the film line-up in 2016

Festival highlights featured the opening films – the Asian premiere of Dain Iskandar Said’s supernatural thriller, Interchange, and the world premiere of SGIFF’s first commissioned short film,In Pursuit of a Happy Human Life, by SGIFF 2015 Best Singapore Short Film recipient, Gladys Ng. Throughout the festival period, Special Presentation films, such as Ho Yuhang’s Mrs K and Midi Z’s The Road to Mandalay were featured. One of Singapore’s entries to Cannes 2016 – K. Rajagopal’s A Yellow Bird – was featured as well.

The final day celebrated the closing of the festival by re-screening the winning films from the Silver Screen Awards. 


Interchange, by Dain Iskandar Said

Mrs K_small

Mrs K, by Ho Yuhang

The Road to Mandalay_small

The Road to Mandalay, by Midi Z

A Yellow Bird_small

A Yellow Bird, by K. Rajagopal

For Nizam


SGIFF paid tribute to the late Abdul Nizam for his instrumental role in the resurgence of Singapore cinema in the late 1990s. Abdul Nizam directed Haur, which was part of Singapore’s first digital-video feature film Stories About Love (2000), and was also the winner of the Best Singapore Film, with his graduate work Datura (1999) at SGIFF in 1999.  Read more here.

SG Originals


A series of dialogue sessions at the Festival allows festival-goers an opportunity to discover the latest developments in cinema and filmmaking from industry professionals and guest curators. Talks include a dialogue session focusing on the hybrid cinema of Latin America and a series on SG Originals aimed at promoting local content making, generating discussions as well as spotlighting talent.

Read more here.