SUPERHEROES and extra-terrestrials might be dominating the local multiplexes now as part of Hollywood's summer blockbuster season but cinephiles needn't feel sidelined, thanks to two film festivals next week which will more than satisfy their discerning tastes.
The Endeavours Documentary Film Festival (EDFF) kicks off first next Wednesday after its successful debut last year; while the 24th European Union Film Festival (EUFF) follows suit a day later. Both will feature highly acclaimed works that seldom get a commercial run in cinemas here due to their niche appeal.
Documentary-lovers can pick from 10 films presented over five days at EDFF. These include Class of 92, about Manchester United legends past and present such as David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs; The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne, which centres on a recalcitrant 83-year-old whose career as a jewellery thief spanned six decades; Kismet, a behind-the-scenes look at the phenomenon of Turkish television soap operas and the role it plays in the debate about women's rights; and 12 O'Clock Boys, about a teenager's growing obsession with a dangerous band of dirt bikers.
"In line with the festival's theme focusing on stunning films about people and their lives, the films this year provide insights into various people's journeys and challenges as they pursue their dreams and goals," says Richard Clarke, founder and director of EDFF, about the festival's diverse line-up which includes works from Spain, Greece, UK, Australia, the US and more.
"With interesting characters driving the films - be it Doris Payne, one of the world's most infamous jewellery thieves; iconic footballers David Beckham and Ryan Giggs; or Pug, a young teenager with his terrifying yet thrilling aspiration to join a motorcycle gang; and many others who took the road less travelled - we believe the growing community of documentary film lovers in Singapore will look forward to this year's EDFF offerings as much as we do," he adds.
Also making a return is EUFF, Singapore's second-longest running film festival. Staying true to this year's motto, See the Stars of Europe, 27 films by today's most relevant filmmakers will be showcased to offer a glittering panorama of European cinema. There will also be not just one but two headliners - 2014 Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award and Golden Globe winner, The Great Beauty, by Italian director Paolo Sorrentino; as well as fellow Oscar nominee, The Hunt, starring Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen from TV's Hannibal.
"No other festival in Singapore presents a more complete showcase of European cinema than the EUFF, with films selected from 27 European countries (and) this year, we're proud to present one of the most current, diverse and exciting line-ups in the history of the festival," says Michael Pulch, ambassador and head of the EU Delegation.
Adds Veronica Manson, director of the Italian Cultural Institute, which is co-organising the event with the delegation of the European Union and the Embassy of Italy, "2014 has been the year of Italian cinema, with Italian winners at the Venice Film Festival and the Academy Awards, so it's timely that Italy was called on to co-organise this year's festival. I hope the prominence of The Great Beauty will spark Singaporeans' interest in the other brilliant films on offer."
Like EDFF, a major running theme in EUFF's line-up this year is strong characters who defined history. For instance, Mary Queen of Scots tells the tragic story of its titular character who ruled Scotland from 1542 to 1567; and Walesa: Man of Hope, an inspiring biopic about Lech Walesa, a dockworker who rose to become Poland's president from 1990-1995.
There will also be a local twist at EUFF as each feature film will open with one of 13 short films by students and alumni of Chapman University in California and its Singapore campus which has returned as Official Film School Partner.
Endeavours Documentary Film Festival runs from May 14-18 at The Arts House. For line-up and ticketing details, check www.endeavoursdocufilmfest.com. The 24th European Union Film Festival runs from May 15-25 at Shaw Theatres Lido. For more info and updates, visit the EUFFsg Facebook page and follow @EUFFsg on Twitter