Perspectives Film Festival: Breakthroughs in Cinema is an annual film festival run by a team of undergraduates from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information (WKWSCI), Nanyang Technological University. Past year screenings included the likes of critically acclaimed films such as Xavier Dolan’s Mommy (2015), timeless classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show (2012) and Kubrick’s masterpiece A Clockwork Orange (2011), and this year’s line-up is just as promising.

perspectives film festival
Days of Being Wild (1990)

We sat down with festival directors, Tiffany Soh, 22 and Matthew Chew, 24 to find out more about this year’s edition of the festival. Meanwhile, cinephiles, mark you calendars – this is an event you should not miss.

perspectives film festival
Black Girl (1966)

#1: What made you decide on the theme ‘Rebels’ for this year’s edition of the festival?

Tiffany: Every edition of Perspectives showcases breakthrough films or filmmakers, so for our 10th year anniversary, we wanted to go back to the roots of what “breakthrough” means to us. We started out by examining different themes like technology, unconventionality, evolution, adaptation, and so on. We also took inspiration from other innovative film festivals, like SXSW, Tribeca and Sundance, that constantly explore new frontiers in cinema.

Matthew: Eventually, we decided on the theme of Rebels as we felt that this encompassed everything we wanted to convey with all those different ideas. From films that utilise revolutionary techniques to enhance the filmgoing experience, to films that present an evolution of culture or social issues, we want to celebrate the freedom for all in cinema to think differently and push boundaries.

perspectives film festival
City of Ghosts (2017)

#2: What does the term ‘rebel’ mean to you?

M: To us, a rebel is someone who actively resists the structures put in place for him/her, without fear of the consequences. People who go against the norm and stand by what they believe in despite a tough situation, like in our opening film, City of Ghosts, a documentary that showcases citizen journalists pushing back against ISIS and extremist occupation in their home.

T: Likewise for The Apple where director Samira Makhmalbaf explores topics like society and religion, in the context of Iran’s patriarchal society. No one expected a 17-year-old female filmmaker, from a place with almost non-existent women’s rights, to put up a mature piece of cinema. She is a true rebel.

perspectives film festival
The Apple (1998)

#3: What were some of the challenges you faced while curating the line-up?

M: The main challenge our team faced was ensuring a diversity in the programming – we wanted to interpret the theme beyond the conventional definition of it, and expose our audience to international films across various time periods that will force them to reexamine their preconceived ideas of a rebel. We also wanted to make it a point to shine the spotlight on female directors and classics.

perspectives film festival
McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971)

#4: Which are some of your favourite films from this year’s line-up and why?

M: It’s hard to pick a particular favourite but we really enjoyed watching and curating the restored classics – Robert Altman’s 1971 anti-Western McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 counter-culture Blow-Up and Ousmane Sembène’s groundbreaking film, Black Girl.

T: These are films that changed cinema’s landscape in their own way, and are masterpieces that every cinephile should catch at least once in their lifetime.

perspectives film festival
Blow-up (1966)

#5: This year is the festival’s 10th year anniversary – are there any special events planned to celebrate the occasion?

T: For years, Perspectives has curated a diverse selection of ancillary events for each edition of the festival, which serve as an extension of the festival theme and give us an opportunity to engage with the local film community. This year, we decided to bring this up in scale with A New World: The Cinematic Virtual Reality Experience, an exclusive virtual reality (VR) event – the first of its kind in Perspectives’ history. The event will bring together pioneers in Singapore’s VR industry in a panel discussion, as well as give our audience the opportunity to immerse themselves in a screening of six specially curated VR short films.

M: Another ancillary event we’re organising this year is a talk on Ukrainian films and the challenges of managing a post-Soviet film archive in the postcolonial era, titled Dovzhenko Centre and the Revitalisation of post-Soviet Film Archive in Ukraine. This talk is in line with Perspectives’ screening of Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, director Sergei Parajanov’s first major work, that challenged the government-sanctioned socialist realism style and caused Parajanov to be blacklisted from Soviet cinema.

perspectives film festival
Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1965)

#6: How do you wish for Perspectives to contribute to Singapore’s developing film scene?

T: Perspectives’ aim has always been (and will always be) to present Breakthroughs in Cinema to local audiences. We’re very lucky to have the support of WKWSCI to be the nation’s only student-run film festival, and many Perspectives alumni have gone on to contribute in many different ways to the local film scene, only proving that Singapore’s youth are passionate about film and want to have their voices heard.  

M: In the coming years, we want to explore new ways to continually engage filmgoers and filmmakers, while showcasing the unique vision of various forerunners and rulebreakers in cinema. We’re looking at ways to expand our editorial content to year-round, so keep an eye on our online platforms – Blog, Facebook and Instagram pages!

Visit for locations and show timings. $11-13 per ticket, or check out the Restored Classics Pass or Women in Charge Pass.


Main image: Behemoth (2015)

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