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Essential guide to the golden jubilee
THE Singapore Art Week, which runs from Jan 17 to 25, is the pinnacle event in the country's visual arts calendar. There are more than 100 events taking place around Art Stage Singapore, the biggest and most important art fair in the country.
Works by the country's best contemporary artists will be showcased at the Prudential Singapore Eye Exhibition at the ArtScience Museum. Fifty of the finest contemporary artists here will also be featured in Singapore Eye, a coffee-table book celebrating the best art in the country.
The upsized month-long Chingay Parade begins on Feb 27 and stretches for a month, with 15,000 performers and volunteers bringing pomp and grandeur to central locations as well as HDB heartlands. It will cover nearly a third of Singapore and is simply the most ambitious edition ever in its 42-year history.
On the film front, Jack Neo returns to his most successful franchise, one which pays tribute to National Service - something every Singaporean male will or has experienced. Ah Boys To Men: Frogmen features the original cast of Joshua Tan, Maxi Lim, Tosh Zhang, Noah Yap and Wang Wei Liang, who have all since gone on to become household names. It will open during the lucrative Chinese New Year blockbuster season.
The DesignSingapore Council will present the Fifty Years of Singapore Design exhibition, at the National Design Centre. It will be a showcase of Singapore's design landscape over the last five decades, from 1965 - 2015.
Meanwhile, SG Mark - an annual award given to products for good design - launches its special SG 50 edition, awarded to products that have evolved with the nation and have a special place in its people's hearts. An exhibition of the SG Mark SG50 products will be on at the National Design Centre.
The Esplanade embarks on an ambitious revival of the 50 most important plays in Singapore theatre history. Every major local play - from Emily of Emerald Hill to Off-Centre to The Weight of Silk On Skin - will either be given a full staging or partial reading at the Esplanade. Most of the activities will take place in April and May.
Now if you want a book to commemorate the Golden Jubilee Year, get the official SG50 coffee-table book, tentatively titled Living The Singapore Story: 1965-2015. Commissioned by the National Library Board and produced by The Straits Times Press, it profiles Singaporeans who have made significant contributions to the country.
Also worth getting is Singapore Chronicles, a volume of 50 books chronicling different aspects of Singapore, from its food to its politics to its sports. Each book will be written by an expert on the topic.
The Singapore International Festival of Arts opens its "Post-Empire" themed festival, which centres on original Singapore works. Giants of the local arts scene - including choreographer Goh Lay Kuan and Santha Bhaskar, playwright Alfian Sa'at, classical act Tang Quartet and avant-garde pianist Margaret Leng Tan - will assemble to prove just how exciting the local arts scene is.
Meanwhile, Royston Tan's 3688 - his first film in seven years - will debut. The musical is about a parking warden who's obsessed with Taiwanese pop diva Feng Feifei. It will be out on Father's Day as Tan says it's a gift to Dads - including our nation's Founding Fathers, of course.
The Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS) celebrates SG50 with Singapore Restaurant Month. Details are still in the planning stage, but restaurants will be serving up their own creative interpretations of local and heritage dishes. RAS has also launched a book titled Singapore's Top 50 Favourite Western and Asian Restaurants as Recommended by 50 Restaurateurs, Chefs and Foodies. The guidebook, at S$12, provides an insight into where personalities from the F&B industry eat at.
Premiering in the cinemas is 7 Letters, an omnibus film featuring seven short films by seven of Singapore's most respected directors, namely Kelvin Tong, Tan Pin Pin, K Rajagopal, Jack Neo, Eric Khoo, Boo Junfeng and Royston Tan, who is heading the project. The works will revolve around the lives of ordinary Singaporeans and is set to premiere at the newly-refurbished Capitol Theatre, which has remained vacant for the last 17 years.
Although no official announcement has been made yet, the Singapore Sports Hub hosting the Barclays Asia Trophy has been the worst-kept secret in football since news about it broke last November. Three clubs from the English Premier League and a host team will go head-to-head; with current FA Cup winners Arsenal, which last played here in 1991, being the first big name to be unveiled.
This being the month of Singapore's Golden Jubilee celebrations, there are more events going on than there are days in the month. But there are three must-see events: The first is Sing50 - a megaconcert organised by The Business Times and The Straits Times, celebrating the best local music in half a century. Expect some of the most unforgettable tunes from 1965 to 2015 to be sung at the Sports Hub by their original singers or some of the reigning talents of today.
The second highlight of the month is the debut of the film 1965, an epic drama about Singapore's independence.
The prestigious role of Singapore's first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew will be played by Lim Kay Tong. Real-life couple Joanne Peh and Qi Yuwu are set to star opposite each other. Also in the film are Malaysian actress Deanna Yusoff and former Opposition election candidate Nicole Seah.
The third highlight of August is, of course, the National Day Parade, which will be celebrated at the Padang as a reminder of the celebrations in 1965. The show is being helmed by creative director Dick Lee, who is also tasked to write the theme song. Lee promises a show that is "grand, epic, yet intimate".
The annual Archifest returns but with a special edition for SG50. There will be an architectural appreciation talk for the public and a photo exhibition by young local architects on their favourite places in Singapore. The Singapore Institute of Architects, which organises Archifest, will also honour the pioneer generation of architects at the event held at Marina Bay Sands.
Feel like dancing? The Singapore Dance Day makes its debut, celebrating the diversity of dance. There will be open classes for you to participate in, talks, screenings and flash mobs at several venues.
Meanwhile, the Singapore Writers Festival returns with a strong focus on Singapore authors and themes. To mark SG50, emerging and established writers have been commissioned to write 50 original works, ranging from poetry to prose, for an anthology that will debut at the festival. Other programmes celebrate Singapore writers past and present.
Housing the world's largest collection of South-east Asian art, the National Gallery Singapore opens at the former Supreme Court and City Hall sites. The 60,000 sq m museum, conceived and built to the tune of S$530 million, is set to be the biggest and most important in the region. It will also be home to 19th- and 20th-century Singapore art.
For film director Jack Neo, there's no better way to end the year than stepping back in time for this two-part nostalgic drama about growing up in a kampung during the 1960s and 70s. The film Long Long Time Ago is budgeted at more than S$6 million and will be his most expensive film to date. The first part will be released at the end of 2015, followed by the sequel in early 2016.