Film Programme

Still somehow, it's illusions we recall

Film Programme curated by Jeremy Chua

2 OCT - 4 NOV 2021

Still Somehow, It’s Illusions We Recall is a film programme presented by the Singapore Art Museum in conjunction with the ongoing exhibition, The Gift. Drawing on the exhibition’s theme of affinities and entanglements, the programme features responses to our current state of unprecedented disruption and isolation. The series of films conjure and reconfigure familiar aspects of life in ways that are intimate, yet alienating. The intertwining themes found in these filmic narratives present an avenue for collective introspection, and open up possibilities for the reanimating of a new and future self.

The film programme will run from 2 October to 4 November 2021, with on-site screenings in the Ngee Ann Kongsi Auditorium and Level 5 Theatrette at National Gallery Singapore. It features the Singapore premieres of feature-length and short films, as well as pre-screening introductions hosted by film curator, Jeremy Chua.

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Feature Films

City Hall Wing, Level B1, The Ngee Ann Kongsi Auditorium, National Gallery Singapore

Southeast Asian Premiere

Director: Jafar Panahi, Anthony Chen, Malik Vittal, Laura Poitras, Dominga Sotomayor, David Lowery, Apitchatpong Weerasethakul

Year: 2021

Runtime: 121 min

Country: USA

Language: English, Farsi, Chinese, Spanish, Thai (with English subtitles)

Rating: To be advised

Jafar Panahi, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Laura Poitras, Anthony Chen and other heavyweights of world cinema reflect on 2020 in this sweeping auteur anthology film for the age of COVID, premiering at Cannes Special Screenings.

Shot in secret during the pandemic, The Year of the Everlasting Storm comprises seven shorts from some of the filmmaking firmament’s most acclaimed names. Billed as “a true love letter” to the storytelling power of the moving image, these collected tales are deeply personal responses to life under lockdown and, together, make up an extraordinary cinematic journal chronicling human existence during what was an unheralded historical moment.

“This portmanteau project achieves something remarkable … reconnecting us to a world inevitably transformed by the pandemic – a world where art lives on.”– Variety
Watch Trailer Here

Southeast Asian Premiere

Director: Alexander Koberidze

Year: 2021

Runtime: 150 min

Country: Germany / Georgia

Language: Georgian (with English subtitles)

Rating: PG

One summer afternoon, Lisa and Giorgi bump into each other in the street. It’s love at first sight, but they quickly part ways—only to cross paths again almost immediately. When they run into each other for a third time, they decide to go on a date. Unfortunately the pair are cursed; on the morning of their big day, both wake up and find themselves transformed into someone else. But even with new faces and new lives, Lisa and Giorgi still yearn for one another.

This Berlinale FIPRESCI Prize winner is a romantic, Kafkaesque fable full of poignant quirkiness and playful imagery. As writer-director Alexandre Koberidze follows the couple’s journey towards reunification, he also takes the audience on a leisurely and witty detour through daily life in the historic Georgian city of Kutaisi, where human, canine and inanimate-object populations are in the grip of World Cup fever. Saturated in colour thanks to Faraz Fesharaki’s artful mix of 16mm and digital cinematography, What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? is an expansive, eloquent love letter to romance, to the mundane and the magical, and to the art of cinema itself.

"Alexandre Koberidze’s joyously elusive flight of fancy … is a slyly inventive, free-ranging adventure in cinematic possibility."– Screen Daily
Watch Trailer Here

Southeast Asian Premiere

Director: C.W. Winter and Anders Edström

Year: 2020

Runtime: 202 min [PARTS 1 & 2]; 130 minutes [PART 3]; 149 minutes [PART 4]

Country: USA / Sweden / Japan/ UK

Language: Japanese, Swedish, English (with English subtitles)

Rating: To be advised

The first rule in farming is that you are never to hope for an easy way. The land demands your effort. The Works and Days (of Tayoko Shiojiri in the Shiotani Basin) follows Tayoko Shiojiri and his family, who live in a valley in Kyoto Prefecture in Japan surrounded by fields and mountains. In a community where hard work bears fruit (as long as nothing diverts its course), their lives are strictly regulated by the requirements of the land and the particularities of the seasons. Filmed over 27 weeks, the film adheres to this same regimen, with the editors constantly re-weaving the narrative threads as diligently as farmers would till their land.

A geographic description of 14 months of the work and non-work of Tayoko in the mountains of Kyoto Prefecture, Japan, this documentary feature is a stunning ode to the pastoral in five books. The film won the Best Film of Berlinale Encounters Competition in 2020.

“This is a marvel of cinematic immersion…Now more than ever, The Works and Days speaks to the power, beauty and necessity of the theatrical experience.” – Film Comment
Watch Trailer Here

Southeast Asian Premiere

Director: Michel Franco

Year: 2021

Runtime: 83 min

Country: Mexico, France, Sweden

Language: English, Spanish (with English subtitles)

Rating: To be advised

When a distant emergency disrupts the wealthy Bennett family’s vacation on the Mexican coast in Acapulco and summons them back to the UK, simmering tensions rise to the fore. In the process, the delicate balance between siblings is irrevocably upset.

This film continues writer-director Michel Franco’s explorations of individuals and societies under pressure, revealing the hidden heights and depths of a city and a family. Sundown unfolds in short, sharp bursts, playing out in the sleek hotel suites and scruffy tourist haunts of a seaside locale, and across the psychological battlefield of a family dynasty.

Sundown is a mystery, but it's also a Rorschach test. No two people will see the film the same way.” – Variety
Watch Trailer Here

Short Films

Supreme Court Wing, Level 5, Theatrette in UOB Southeast Asia Gallery, National Gallery Singapore

The short film section consists of personal works made by multidisciplinary artists Elysa Wendi, Min-Wei Ting and Robert Zhao over the past two years. They explore sensations relating to the transience and fragility of living in the physical or natural world. Each of the films investigates a different aspect of the subconscious reality of life in Singapore, and reminds us of the invisible forces of change that threaten erasure both on and off screen.

The short film programme will run from 2 to 31 October 2021, every Saturdays and Sundays between 3 – 7pm.

By Elysa Wendi, 36min

While Elysa Wendi searched for a copy of her old dance solo performance from 1998, she found that her feelings resonated with the plight of the last Javan Rhino, which passed away in 2010 after walking in the forest alone for years. The film navigates her personal memories and broader questions of extinction from different perspectives.

By Min-Wei Ting, 40min

A sensorial journey of time and space, If For Nothing Else Than For Sunday presents a first-person walk through the Little India district of Singapore, punctuated by jumps in time. The camera looks, listens, and moves straight ahead, breaking the flow only to cut back and forth in time. It takes the viewer into streets and alleyways that are quiet and deserted one moment, before cutting to the same locations at a different time, bustling with migrant workers from Bangladesh and India who have gathered for relaxation, friendship and freedom on their day off. In doing so, for however brief and limited a time, they remake this space into a place of their own.

By Robert Zhao Renhui, 31min

On Dec 22 2019, thousands of birds appeared in front of the Robert Zhao Renhui’s home, darkening the sky and covering the open field next to a construction site. They were Asian openbill storks, birds foreign to Singapore and which had travelled a long way. Their appearance was a sign of something, but what of, Zhao was unsure.


Already one of the largest urbanised areas in the world, the Pearl River Delta continues to urbanise at an alarming rate. When Zhao first arrived in Shunde, Guangzhou, he was worried because he could not see or hear any birds for the first hour. Where had all the birds gone?

In recent years, birds have been used as indicators of possible changes in the environment. By looking closely at the types of birds and the number of birds, we can learn more about the current state of the environment.


The wetlands in Yalu River, Dan Dong, is an important bird migratory site for the godwit and great knot. These birds migrate between New Zealand, China, North Korea and Alaska every year. In fact, the godwit’s migratory flight is the longest nonstop migration of any bird in the world. As more wetlands and coasts in South Korea and China become concretised, the wetlands in Yalu River remains one of the last sanctuaries for these birds.

Zhao visited the estuary in April 2019, during the time of the migrations, and spent time talking to a researcher who tracked the numbers of birds. Every year, their numbers dwindle. Yet, to see the birds in flight was a spectacular sight, and witnessed by huge crowds of onlookers.

Public Programmes

The Gift is accompanied by a series of public programmes, including talks, guided trails and family-friendly activities. Find out more about these programmes on the museum website.

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