The Singapore South Asian International Film Festival (Sg.SAIFF) 2017 festival will be held from September 1 to 10, across various prominent venues in the city. The festival showcases forty feature films, shorts and documentaries from India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Nepal and Bangladesh, as well as special screenings from Singapore, carefully culled out from hundreds of recent productions to exhibit new films of emerging filmmakers, as well as highly anticipated titles by established ones.

Apart from screenings, the vibrant week-long festival also offers an eclectic mix of events and programs – World Premiere, screenings, workshops, award ceremonies, panel discussions, master classes and music performances.

Sg.SAIFF is founded by the core team of ‘Muvizz’, a Video on Demand (VOD) platform, with an impetus to effectively channel the expansion of South Asian cinema beyond the Indian subcontinent and engage with a wider spectrum of audience.

Talking about the festival, Abhayanand Singh, Festival Chairman, said, “The festival is a landmark initiative showcasing South Asian cinema of such scale and quality for the first time in the city. We, therefore, wish to make a big impact and become a significant cultural gateway in the years to come. Through the powerful medium of cinema, we hope to build closer ties between the global city of Singapore and the developing nations of South Asia.”

Amit Aggarwal, Artistic Director said, “The challenge and drive in selecting films for Sg.SAIFF was to create a program that is truthful to the exciting new voices and stories which richly bring out the complexities of South Asia.”

Ashok Purang, Festival Director says, “Sg.SAIFF aims to bring together an exclusive gathering of filmmakers, actors, film critics, and industry players to engage in vibrant discussions on the larger transformative role of cinema as a craft, representation, and industry in current times.”

The festival will commence with the grand and ceremonious red carpet World Premiere of Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai with the cast and crew in attendance, along with a bevy of celebrities at the Cathay Theatre, Handy Road. This already widely-circulating and critically-appreciated premiere film pays homage to Indian auteur Sayeed Mirza’s 1980’s cult classic by the same title, similarly exploring the trope of anger in the contemporary context through a forceful and conflicted central character. Director Soumitra Ranade, and cast Manav Kaul and Saurabh Shukla will be present to share closely with the audience their experience, challenges and ideas on the film.

The festival team has been overwhelmed and pleased by the scale and quality of films submitted for the inaugural year. After a much careful assessment, the programming team has finally shortlisted forty titles under the categories of ‘Showcase’ and ‘Competition’. A key highlight of the festival is the screening of Afghanistani director Siddiq Barmak’s Osama (2003), which has won the Golden Globe for ‘Best Foreign Film’.

Other important screenings include film veteran Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s The Bait (2016), Leena Yadav’s Parched (2015), Singaporean director K. Rajagopal’s much-acclaimed film A Yellow Bird (2016), Bangladeshi director Mostofa Sarwar Farooki’s Television (2013), Girish Kasravalli’s new documentary film, Images/Reflections (2015), Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s Once Again, and a much-anticipated Bengali film Roktokorobi (2017), by young promising Bangladesh director Amitabh Bhattacharya, based on Rabindranath Tagore’s iconic dance drama of the same title.

The festival screenings will be complemented with two stimulating panel discussions with film professionals and cinéastes.

(I) Cinema in Flux: Filmed narratives of a subcontinent in transition.

(Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Girish Kasaravalli, Siddiq Barmak, Prasanna Vithanage, Mustafa Sarwar Farooqi – Moderated by Sg.SAIFF Artistic Director Amit Agarwal)

(II)  Filmmaking workshop:

(Prasanna Vithanage and Siddiq Barmak).

The festival is also pleased to host in Singapore a trio of cinema luminaries who revolutionized Indian cinema in the 1970’s and 1980’s – Dada Saheb Phalke Awardee, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Padma Shri Awardee and winner of fourteen National awards, Girish Kasaravalli and veteran poet and filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta. The three will be conducting master classes, and sharing with the audience fascinating accounts of their long and impactful journey in the world of cinema. Two major workshops conducted over five sessions will aim at providing useful insights and tools to aspiring filmmakers in the fields of acting, directing and writing. The workshops will be conducted by famous Indian actor Manoj Bajpayee and theatre director Ashok Purang.

Sg.SAIFF will also honor  Abhay Deol with the South Asian Icon of the Year, Shabana Azmi with South Asian Women of the Year and Javed Akhtar with South Asian Literary Award.

Here’s the list of the festival films

Competition Category:

1. 1869 (Hindi)
2.  Lathe Joshi (Marathi)
3.  Azaad (Hindi)
4.  Babus Dilema (Hindi)
5.  Bijuli Machine (Nepali)
6.  Chitrokaar (Bengali)
7.  Chronicles of Hari (Kannada)
8.  Farewell Goddess (Silent)
9.  Her First Time (Hindi)
10. Her First Time (Hindi)
11. Is it too much to ask? (English/Tamil)
12. Jalal’s Story (Bengali)
13. One Goat’s Mercy Petition (Tamil)
14. Pu (Silent)
15. Rama Rama Re (Kannada)
16. Roktokorobi (Bengali)
17. Sebastian and Rose (English)
18. Simon go Back (English)
19. Son of Kali (Bengali)
20. Sonar Baran Pakhi (Bengali)
21. The Narrow Path (Malayalam)
22. The Suspect (Hindi)
23. Unlock (Tamil)
24. Western Ghats (Tamil)
25. Withered Leaf (Sinhalese)

Showcase Category:

1. A Yellow Bird (English)
2. Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Ata Hai? (Hindi)
3. Bishorjon (Bengali)
4. Images/Reflections (English)
5. Kaagaz Ki Kashti (Hindi)
6. Once Again (Malayalam)
7.  Osama (Pashto)
8.  Parched (Hindi)
9.  The Bait (Bengali)
10. There is Always Tomorrow (Malayalam)
11. With You Without You (Sinhalese)
12. Television (Bengali)