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Video Credit: Taiki Sakpisit The Mental Traveller (Trailer)

For those who find themselves intrigued and captivated by art films (or just naturally addicted art fans altogether) and wish to know what’s the latest film phenomenon currently trending in Singapore — look no further than National Gallery’s Annual Film Festival, Painting with Light!

This yearly festival is renowned for pledging its expertise to pictures that genuinely probe into creative artistic practices, and which capture unforgettable moments in art history, by connecting relation to present-day life. 

Due to the understandable requirement of social distancing playing out from challenges raised over the global pandemic of 2020, many film lovers have found themselves wrapped up at home with Netflix (and other available online viewing options), as opposed to getting their fix from local cinemas.

The brilliant news about this year’s third instalment of Painting with Light, is the flexible feature incorporated by the institute to run a completely online experience this year! And that isn’t the best part yet — unlike all previous editions, this year’s rousing line-up showcased is absolutely cost-free! 

The museum’s trademark film festival, offers visual delights to all Singapore-based viewers with unlimited access to a must-see selection of 20 new and award-winning Southeast Asian shows. Step on the timely accelerator of excitement as you check out a well put together blend of short films and full-length features, which is inclusive of 7 local premieres on display, available until Sunday 25 October 2020.

This combined series of stories presented is centred around reframing the notion of “home” — exploring aspects of both the physical dwelling and lived experiences within a host of interactive contexts, whilst deeply honouring the practice of art. As a whole, the anthology of films reveal that in the face of profound global transitions which impact local environments, just how fragile the concept itself really is.

The experiential longing for a notion of settled happiness and security is the common thread across the pictures, depicting the realistic outcome of it never fully coming to life or fading out already. The audience gains invitation from the programme towards insightful reflection — as to whether we have always been alone, together. 

First up, catch High Way, a dual awarded film (2018) by Chia Chee Sum, which follows the story of a young man who travels back and forth as a a go-between messenger for his separated parents who aren’t on speaking terms, and therefore seems to be their only point of connection.

The strained relationship bears similarities to one shared between himself and the girl next door. The thought-provoking character intentions showcase that lost causes aren’t always what they appear to be, if you know where to look. A definite must-see! 

Next, Taiki Sakpisit’s The Mental Traveller, and Mekong 2030, and are two noteworthy premieres you don’t want to miss out on! The first is a film that discusses the passing of time and thought patterns through five men who call a psychiatric ward home—precipitated by Tiki’s personal journey with loved ones who suffered brushes with death, dementia, and hallucination, and his desire for catharsis. The latter is a an anthology of 5 Southeast Asian short films that reflect on the uncertain future of the Mekong river—a water body coursing through most of Southeast Asia and is endangered by climate change & unsustainable development. 

Another award-winning film (2019) is The Diary of Cattle, by David Darmadi & Lidia Alfrilita, which employs a poetic observational approach to the rigours of farm life. Worth the watch! 

Don’t bypass Tenebrae, by Singaporean film director Nicole Midori Woodford — a stimulating film, recording the final day for residents of Pearl Bank Apartments to vacate the premises before its demolition. Practical duties give way to consciousness of unspoken grief in Iris’ last moments, as she shares a hard goodbye with permanence to the home she once loved. 

Beyond the 20 options available for free, viewers can further look forward to an exciting feature of dialogue series with participating filmmakers, who discuss their works and the artistic practices involved. The list includes Leon Cheo, Director of SIN-SFO, Ismail Basbeth, Director of Woo Woo (Or Those Silence That Kills You and Me), and Taiki Sakpisit, Director of The Mental Traveller.

National Gallery’s Annual Film Festival, Painting with Light, will be ongoing until Sunday 25 October, so make the most of your Singapore-based privileged chance to visit their page now, to choose and view your preferred options, and engage in an enthralling online film experience from within the comforts of your home!

Hero Image Credit: Diary of Cattle (2019) by Lidia Afrilita and David Darmadi


10 October 2020
Diary of Cattle (2019) This short film comes with a rude awakening - cattle surrounded by trash. In this landfill in Padang, Indonesia, cows roam around plastic trash. We have heard enough in the news about the plastic waste situation with no end in sight. Directors Lidia Afrilita and David Darmadi go a step further by bringing about an intersection between wild life, cattle in this case, with our plastic waste. The film offers a close-up view of how cows would interact with our garbage. Basically, we see them devouring plastic as if it is normal food! In this documentary, human interactions with the cows are kept to a minimum, forcing us to enter their world and reflect how our disposable culture is impacting other sentient beings around us. Read full review here https://www.sindie.sg/2019/11/review-diary-of-cattle-2019.html