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Still from Singapore-made animated film The Little Pastry Chef by Soh Fia, Mirza Ja'afar and Grace Ong.

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Still from Singapore-made animated film The Greed That Went Wrong by Geraldine Toh.

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Still from Singapore-made animated film A Brief History of Time by Davier Yoon and Joshua Tan.

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The Perspectives Film Festival includes The Taste of Tea by Katsuhito Ishii.

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The Perspectives Film Festival includes Daisies (1966) by Vera Chytilova.

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The Perspectives Film Festival includes The Man Who Fell To Earth, which features David Bowie (in wheelchair).

Films beyond mainstream fare aplenty this weekend

Fans of surrealist art can pick from seven films at Perspectives Film Festival; homegrown animation festival offers a one-night slate.
Oct 21, 2016 5:50 AM

FILM buffs looking for niche, cult and arthouse flicks can soon catch a series of surrealist films at the Perspectives Film Festival, and also watch home-made and international cartoons at another indie event, Cartoons Underground.

These two independent film festivals are a followup to the Singapore Film Society's Animation Nation last week and the Design Film Festival earlier.

Cartoons Underground will offer up to 20 works this weekend. The organising committee received close to 500 submissions - three times more than last year, making this the biggest festival since its debut five years ago.

The final 20 cartoons, to be screened on a single night, were shortlisted from that pool, says festival co-founder and director Vicky Chen.

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Programme director Tan Wei Keong viewed them all and selected the 20, which range from three to 20 mins in length. They share two threads running through them in that they deal with personal or alternative realities and play on time.

Six are made-in-Singapore animations: A Brief History of Time by Davier Yoon and Joshua Tan, The Hunt by Nguyen Hong Ngoc Mai, The Greed That Went Wrong by Geraldine Toh, Trolled by Kai Yuan Tao, and The Little Pastry Chef by Soh Fia, Mirza Ja'afar and Grace Ong.

The sixth work is Jerrold Chong's hand-drawn 2D short, which will kick off the festival. The other cartoons come from Israel, Turkey, China, the United States and Europe.

Ms Chen says Cartoons Underground, the first and biggest independent animation festival so far, is fuelled by private funding and commercial sponsors after its launch with S$900 raised through Indiegogo's crowdfunding site.

Asked about the significance of the festival, Ms Chen says it has not only helped educate the public about Singapore's art and animation scene, it has also served as a platform for studios to discover new talents.

The jump in submissions from all over the world comes from the efforts of the creative team, which has tirelessly promoted the event on the Internet; they have also conducted studio visits and invited contributing writers.

Ms Chen says: "We want to provide an alternative festival animation fans can go to, without paying an arm or a leg for tickets. It's about people being aware that there are creative films out there, besides mainstream movies, and also that the art of storytelling has been getting stronger in the animation genre as well."

Chris Shaw, Head of the Puttnam School of Film and Animation at LASALLE College of the Arts, says: "The most exciting thing I'm seeing at the moment is that Asian voices are starting to break through.

"No longer is Singapore somewhere to simply do the animating. Singaporean studios and directors are in the forefront of a new wave of Asian storytelling and animated film is a perfect medium for that."

Meanwhile, Joshua Ng, director of Perspectives Film Festival (PFF), says surrealism was chosen as the theme because "we wanted to do something that's not so well-explored in the art scene".

PFF publicist Rachel Chia says that the festival hopes to pull in the usual film crowd as well as fans of surrealist art. Surrealism, the expression of unconscious thought through surprising imagery and illogical juxtapositions, started in art, then extended its influence into fields like literature, music and, of course, cinema.

Four of the seven films at the PFF are being shown here for the first time; Fantastic Planet (1973) directed by Rene Laloux, Daisies (1966) by Vera Chytilova, The Dance of Reality (2013) and Endless Poetry (2016) by Alejandro Jodorowsky.

Two films - Eraserhead (1977) by David Lynch and The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976) by Nicholas Roeg - have been digitally restored; the director of the Japanese film, The Taste of Tea (2004), Katsuhito Ishii, will attend the festival and hold a question-and-answer session.

PFF is mounted yearly by students of the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) as part of their practicum course at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, and this is its ninth edition.

Mr Ng says: "Previous years' themes have been mainly social-realist themes like marginalisation and displacement, but we thought surrealism will be a fresh change. It's been almost 100 years since the artform emerged."

Ancilliary programmes include an art exhibition and workshop by Singapore surrealist artist Rosihan Daim. That begins this weekend.

  • Cartoons Underground runs on Oct 22 from 6pm-11pm at Kult Kafe, Emily Hill, 11 Upper Wilkie Road.
    Admission is by donation.
    More information at www.cartoonsunderground.com.
  • Your Mind Is Just A Dream Away: Interactive workshop and dialogue
    by surrealist artist Rosihan Dahim will be held on Oct 22 at *Scape
    (The Gallery, Level 5), from 12pm-1pm (workshop) and 2pm-3.30pm (dialogue).
    Admission is free.
    Prior registration with refundable deposit is required at Peatix.com. Dahim's exhibition will be held on Oct 22 and 23 at *Scape (The Treetop, Level 5), from 11am to 8pm.
  • Perspectives Film Festival will be held from Oct 27-30 at the National Museum Gallery Theatre and
    The Projector on Beach Road. Individual tickets cost S$11, with concessions for various categories.
    For more information, go to http://www.perspectivesfilmfestival.com