Friday, July 16, 2010

Toronto Singapore Film Festival 2010, July 16-17

The Toronto Singapore Film Festival launches its 5th edition this weekend. It's one of Toronto's more modest festivals but interesting nonetheless. Singaporean filmmakers have been steadily gaining in international stature and have recently begun competing at festivals such as Cannes.

Friday night's opening gala takes place at the Revue Cinema at 400 Roncesvalles Avenue. They will screen the North American premiere of Royston Tan's musical hit 881, co-presented with the Reel Asian Film Festival. "881" is how Cantonese speakers often text farewell greetings to each other, since 8 in Cantonese is "ba" and 1 is "yi." Thus 881 = "ba-ba-yi" = "bye-bye."

On Saturday, the screenings move to Innis Town Hall, 2 Sussex Avenue, a block south of Bloor & St. George. At 4pm, the Worldwide Short Film Festival co-hosts a screening of 5 short films. One of the directors Vicknesh Varan will be in attendance. Then at 7pm, the closing film will be Kelvin Tong's horror/thriller Rule #1.

All films have English subtitles.

TSFF 2010

TSFF is returning for the 5th season in 2010. The two-day film festival is being held at Revue Cinema July 16th and Innis College on the 17th. We selected a variety of features, shorts, and documentaries made by some of the most inspiring independent Singaporean film-makers. The films are in several languages including Cantonese, French, Mandarin, and Tamil. All have English subtitles.

TSFF is proud to present 881 as our opening feature. A Royston Tan directed movie, it will be the North American premiere for this Singapore box office success. Royston Tan’s films often tell stories of the Singapore heartland. 881 is a flamboyant musical about two women’s journey to fulfill their dreams as successful getai singers in Singapore’s unique world of temporary staged performances held annually in the month of the Hungry Ghosts. (Note: Getai means literally ‘song stage’ and refers to a boisterous live stage performance. The performers would usually don loud and glittery clothing, and the compère would spout jokes all in the name of fun. The performances are meant to entertain ‘the spirits’ and people during the seventh lunar month.)

Other selections include:
Anthony Chen’s Haze which will make its Toronto premiere. His films have screened at various prestigious film festivals. His second short film, Ah Ma (Grandma), was nominated for the Palme d’Or for Short Film at the 60th Cannes Film Festival, and secured a Special Mention, the first time a Singapore filmmaker was awarded in Cannes. Haze marks his third short film effort and was nominated for the Golden Bear for Short Film at the 58th Berlin International Film Festival. Haze is a 15 minute film capturing a day in the life of a Singaporean teenager on a hazy day. Haze is caused by smoke from forest fires in neighbouring Indonesia.
Special Pass is a 24 minute Tamil documentary about a group of foreign workers in Singapore who attempt to seek shelter and support themselves financially despite being jobless. Directed by Vicknesh Varan, it will make its Canadian premiere at TSFF 2010. Note: Vicknesh Varan will be in attendance at the TSFF 2010 screening.

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