The 27th Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) came to a close on December 4, 2016. This year, the SGIFF celebrated the country’s rich history and culture through a 12-day festival showcasing 160 film entries from 52 countries. SGIFF had not only a very impressive lineup of film, but their attendance rates were just as impressive as well.

The total attendance rate for their masterclass series went up by over 50% and 11 of the films had sold out seating. These festival attendees were able to immerse themselves in the world of film and cinema by not only watching strong works of film, but by having an opportunity to hear from some of the most influential members of the world of cinema.

These film influencers include: Taiwanese actor Kai Ko, USA director Darren Aronofsky, veteran Hong Kong actor Simon Yam, Vietnamese-born French filmmaker Tran Anh Hung, and Hong Kong filmmaker Fruit Chan.

Still from "Absent Without Leave"
Still from “Absent Without Leave”

Films that were shown during the festival’s span had festival-goers buzzing. “Absent Without Leave,” a debut documentary from Malaysian director Lau Kek-Huat, was the most popular and was awarded the Audience Choice Award. The film followed Lau as he tried to reconnect with his father only to discover a dark history about his own grandfather who fought and died for Malaysia during WWII.

Still from "White Sun"
Still from “White Sun”

The President and Chief Executive Officer of Marina Bay Sands, Mr George Tanasijevich, spoke recently about the SGIFF and announced that the growing popularity of this event speaks volumes to the fact that the cultural importance and impact Singapore has on the international cinema world. SGIFF ended its year with showing “White Sun,” which won the Best Asian Feature Film at the Silver Screen Awards this year. Because of the growing popularity of the SGIFF, and continued strong lists of entries, the future is bright for the festival and future audience members will be anxiously waiting to see what next year holds.


27th Singapore International Film Festival Concludes Successfully with Close to 13,000 audiences and 11 Sold Out Screenings

  • Absent Without Leave by Malaysia’s Lau Kek-Huat also emerged as the winning film of the Audience Choice Award.

Singapore, 4 December 2016 – The 27th Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF)’s 12-day celebration of independent cinema came to a close today, with a well-attended crowd of close to 13,000 festival-goers from Singapore and across the region to its film screenings, talks, forums and masterclasses.

Committed to telling the region’s story through film, the internationally-recognised film festival showcased a total of 161 feature and short films from 52 countries this year, of which 11 screenings, including that of four local productions, were sold out. There was also an increase of over 50% in attendance for the masterclasses and talks this year, a testament to the growing support and interest towards independent cinema. 

Absent Without Leave by Malaysian director Lau Kek-Huat also emerged as the favourite feature film among festival-goers at this edition of SGIFF’s Audience Choice Award, in recognition of the growing desire by festival goers for greater involvement. The film, which is also Lau’s debut feature documentary, navigates the murky waters of Malayan history that appears far removed from the present as Lau attempts to reconnect with his absent father. What follows is the gradual unravelling of his grandfather’s forgotten story: an absent father to the filmmaker’s own absent father, but also a guerrilla Communist soldier, a protector, a martyr of Malaya during WWII.

Across the 12 days, festival goers also had the opportunity to get up-close with distinguished film personalities from around the world, including Taiwanese actor Kai Ko, USA director Darren Aronofsky, veteran Hong Kong actor Simon Yam, Vietnamese-born French filmmaker Tran Anh Hung, Hong Kong filmmaker Fruit Chan, Indian director Anurag Kashyap, Hong Kong actress Kara Wai, Taiwanese rocker Wu Bai, award-winning Japanese filmmaker Naomi Kawase, at masterclasses, talks and In Conversation sessions.

SGIFF Executive Director, Yuni Hadi, said, “Stories bring people from all walks of life together, and remain as the cornerstone of filmmaking. This year, we continue to gather many diverse stories told by the region’s talents, and provide a platform that allows our audiences to both enjoy the films and expand their perspectives on filmmaking. We are encouraged by the strong support from the film community and our partners who helped enable a successful 27th edition of the festival, and hope to continue growing the pride and interest in independent cinema in the years to come.”

Deputy Chairman of the Singapore Media Festival Advisory Board and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA)’s Assistant Chief Executive (Content & Innovation), Angeline Poh added, “This year’s SGIFF celebrated the best of Asian storytelling with its stellar line-up of excellent films from Singapore and the region. The SGIFF continues to be an integral part of the IMDA’s Singapore Media Festival. It enables our filmmakers to share their heartfelt stories with an international audience and inspires the next generation of storytellers.”

Mr George Tanasijevich, President and Chief Executive Officer of Marina Bay Sands, said, “The response to this year’s festival further reinforces its importance in Singapore’s cultural calendar and its growing international profile. SGIFF is more than the art of moving image and red carpet events. Through meaningful discussions held at ArtScience Museum with celebrated film talent, we gave a voice to the craft and imbued the audience with knowledge to pursue further interests in film. Marina Bay Sands continues to champion this cause as we endeavour to enrich, educate and entertain the art audience. We are proud to play our part in supporting SGIFF to achieve yet another milestone in their ongoing narrative.”

“The festival has once again impressed with its commitment to honour the hard work of filmmakers, with the wide diversity of films presented, and most importantly, the dedication of the team behind the festival, which deserves full laudation. This year, IWC has not only renewed our partnership with SGIFF, we have also upped the ante with our inaugural “For the Love of Cinema” benefit dinner, in which we also presented our first IWC Filmmaker Award to Vietnamese-born French filmmaker Trần Anh Hùng. These milestones are not only monumental for the brand’s accomplishments in the Southeast Asia region, it also underlines IWC’s burgeoning commitment and passion for the fascinating world of filmmaking. It has been a great start, and we look forward to further developing our meaningful partnership with the SGIFF,” said Managing Director of IWC South East Asia, Matthieu Dupont.

The SGIFF celebrated the closing of the Festival by screening White Sun, the Best Asian Feature Film at this year’s Silver Screen Awards, as well as the winning film of the Audience Choice Award, Absent Without Leave. The winners of this year’s Best Southeast Asian Short Film – In the Year of Monkey – and Best Singapore Short Film – Anchorage Prohibited – will also be rescreened alongside the Best Asian Feature Film and Audience Choice Award film respectively.

The SGIFF is an event of the Singapore Media Festival, hosted by Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA). SGIFF’s Official Sponsors include Presenting Sponsor, Marina Bay Sands, Official Festival Time Partner, IWC Schaffhausen, and Official Airline, Singapore Airlines.