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Saputra (left) and Nasution in a scene from Interchange. The work combines director Dain Iskandar Said's love of noir films and his fascination with folklore.

Said says he is excited for the Asian debut of his new work after touring it on the international festival circuit.

Supernatural thriller kicks off film festival

23/09/2016 - 05:50

ACCLAIMED Malaysian filmmaker Dain Iskandar Said's fantasy noir thriller Interchange will open this year's Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) on Nov 23.

The Indonesian-Malaysian co-production will make its Asian premiere here after receiving critical praise at the Locarno International Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival earlier.

The cast is led by Malaysian stars Shaheizy Sam and Iedil Putra, and Indonesian actors Nicholas Saputra and Prisia Nasution.

The plot revolves around a forensics photographer (Saputra) who is lured into a world of shamans and mystic creatures while helping his detective friend (Sam) investigate a series of macabre murders.

It is based on events triggered by a true incident that took place a century ago when Norwegian explorer Carl Lumholtz travelled through central Borneo.

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Interchange is inspired by a picture Lumholtz took - and which Said came across in 2005 - of a group of tribal women bathing in a river in an attempt to cleanse themselves of the evil effects of being photographed.

The work combines the director's love of noir films and his fascination with folklore; and the plot is steep in both South-east Asian mythologies and supernatural beliefs.

Interchange is Said's third feature, after Bunohan: Return to Murder (2011), which won eight awards at the 25th Malaysian Film Festival - the second most awarded film of all time at that festival.

The action-drama was also selected as the country's official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film nomination for the 85th Academy Awards.

On picking Interchange as this year's festival-opener, executive director of SGIFF Yuni Hadi says: "(The film) combines Dain Iskandar Said's skill for genre story-telling with a distinct South-east Asian flavour to produce a unique thriller that could not have originated from anywhere else. Choosing it as the opening film shows our commitment to celebrating our own voices, highlighting the capability of our creative industry, and welcoming a wider audience to the promise of South-east Asian cinema."

Said adds he is excited for the Asian debut of his new work after touring it on the international festival circuit. "It's exciting to hear and be near the waters closer to home, where after all the story of Interchange took root; shaped by the voices and stories that we all share in the whole of the Nusantara region, from Borneo to Singapore," he explains.

The line-up for the rest of the festival will be unveiled in late October and ticket sales start on Oct 28.

  • The 27th edition of SGIFF runs from Nov 23 to Dec 4, 2016, and will take place across various venues. For updates and ticketing information, check