SGIFF 2022 to open with Kazakh film, Ken Kwek’s banned #LookAtMe still part of festival, Latest Movies News - The New Paper

SGIFF 2022 to open with Kazakh film, Ken Kwek’s banned #LookAtMe still part of festival

The Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) will return this year with a slate of 101 films from 57 countries.

To be held from Nov 24 to Dec 4, the 33rd edition will, for the first time, open with a film from Central Asia. Assault, from Kazakh director Adilkhan Yerzhanov, will be screened. The dark comedy is the winner of the Grand Jury Award for Best Narrative at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.

Two new categories, Altitude and Horizon, have been added. Altitude will contain important new works by established film-makers, while Horizon holds strong festival discoveries from around the world.

Programme director Thong Kay Wee says that while many of the films in this year’s slate would have been made during the pandemic years of 2020 to 2021, SGIFF can still afford to choose only the work it feels makes the grade, despite the overall drop in the global supply of films.

“The quality of the programme hasn’t been affected. We select only about 70 feature films for the festival, so we can still be stringent and the selection is still very, very curated. Quality is there even if the quantity has decreased, so I’m confident in our film programming,” he said.

Mr Thong was speaking at an SGIFF press conference held on Wednesday morning. With him was Ms Emily J. Hoe, the festival’s executive director.

The film #LookAtMe by Singapore film-maker Ken Kwek had been scheduled to screen at the SGIFF. But earlier in October, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), which classifies films, said it had assessed the film as having exceeded the Film Classification Guidelines because “it denigrates a religious community”.

It has been barred from being screened in Singapore, with the authorities assessing it as having the potential to cause enmity and social division.

A drama that features a pastor and his stance on homosexuality, it stars yao (formerly known as Thomas Pang), Adrian Pang, Pam Oei and Ching Shu Yi.

Responding to a question from The Straits Times about the film’s current status at SGIFF, Ms Hoe said the festival “stands by its decision to include #LookAtMe as part of our film programme”.

Without a classification, the film cannot be screened publicly, but the title will not be removed from the festival’s official materials.

“We obviously respect the decisions in the process that IMDA has gone through with the film classification. Unfortunately, it won’t be shown, but it is definitely still part of our programme,” she said.

This year’s SGIFF will hold screenings at Filmgarde Kallang, Carnival Cinema at Golden Mile Tower, Golden Village Plaza Singapura, Oldham Theatre, The Projector and Projector X: Picturehouse.

Talks and panels will take place at Anomalyst Studio, Lasalle College of the Arts, Oldham Theatre and 42 Waterloo Street.

Early-bird tickets for SGIFFriends are available for purchase at from next Tuesday at noon. Official ticket sales commence on next Wednesday at noon