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Film festival kicks off with thought-provoking flick
THE 28th Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) kicks off on Nov 23 with the highly-acclaimed Mainland Chinese thriller Angels Wear White.
Produced and directed by Vivian Qu, the modern-day noir is in the running for three awards at the 54th Golden Horse Awards including Best Feature Film, Best Director and Best Leading Actress (Vicky Chen). It was also the sole Chinese entry in competition at the 74th Venice International Film Festival.
Angels Wear White is Qu's sophomore feature after Trap Street (2013), which won the Grand Jury Prize at the Boston Independent Film Festival, and the Dragons And Tigers Award - Special Mention at the Vancouver International Film Festival. It was screened in Singapore's Italian Film Festival (Special Venice Edition) in 2014.
Qu is also a leading figure in the indie Chinese film scene and was the producer of Black Coal, Thin Ice, which won the Golden Bear at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival.
A Chinese-French co-production, Angels Wear White is set in a small southern coastal town where the peace is rocked when two schoolgirls Wen (played by teenage actress-singer Zhou Meijun) and Xinxin (Jiang Xinyue) find themselves assaulted by a middle-aged high-ranking district commissioner in a motel.
Receptionist Mia (Chen) is the sole witness to the incident but keeps silent for fear of losing her job.
To make matters worse, one of the victims experiences further physical and psychological abuse from her mother because of the case, while an attorney played by veteran actress Shi Ke faces the difficult task of pressing charges against the perpetrator because of his collusion with the police.
Angels Wear White examines the problem of female objectification while painting a disturbing picture of corruption in modern-day China. It also explores the prejudice women face in today's society and echoes the ongoing Harvey Weinstein scandal that is currently rocking Hollywood.
"Vivian Qu has made a name for herself as one of the few female filmmakers and producers in China and has been a strong advocate for independent cinema," says Yuni Hadi, executive director of SGIFF. "Her latest feature film showcases her prolific cinematic style in telling a hard-hitting story of the society's marginalised through the camera lens and brings to fore a rare female perspective towards the state of oppression."
She adds that the selection of Angels Wear White as the opening film "reaffirms (the festival's) commitment to championing film talents and cinema of the region, and showcases the promising future of Asian cinema".
The SGIFF is an event of the Singapore Media Festival, hosted by Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA); and this year's will run from Nov 23 to Dec 3 across various venues including Marina Bay Sands, Shaw Theatres Lido, National Museum of Singapore, National Gallery Singapore, The Arts House, Filmgarde Bugis+, Objectifs and *SCAPE.
Launched in 1987, it is Singapore's largest and longest-running film festival; and skipped three editions before relaunching in 2014 with Ms Hadi at the helm and Zhang Wenjie as festival director.
The latter has left and Thai filmmaker-critic Pimpaka Towira is the new programme director for the 28th SGIFF. Her role includes selecting films and the supervision of its educational programmes for youth and film-makers, such as the SEA Film Lab and the Youth Jury And Critics programme.
Towira was also the programme director for the Bangkok Film Festival in 2008 and 2009; and her short film Mae Nak (1997) as well as feature One Night Husband (2003) were screened at previous editions of SGIFF.
Two homegrown classics - Jack Neo's I Not Stupid (2002), and Colin Goh and Woo Yen Yen's Talking Cock The Movie (2002) - are set to make a comeback on the big screen as both celebrate their 15th anniversary with screenings at SGIFF under the festival's Classics section.
The segment will also include Asian spy films from the 1950s to early 1980s such as The Man From Hong Kong (1975), which stars martial arts icon Jimmy Wang Yu, and Gerak Kilat (1966) from Singapore.
The full SGIFF line-up and ticketing details will be announced in end October.