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Featured at the festival are Filipino horror-comedy 'Remington' And 'The Curse Of The Zombadings' (above) and Vietnamese film 'Mother's Soul'.
Zombies, drag queens on screen

in SINGAPORE, 18/03/2012

When Filipino horror-comedy Remington And The Curse Of The Zombadings (2011) premiered in Manila last year, it attracted long lines. The campy indie film by director Jade Castro was so popular that cinema exhibitors had to add more screens to meet the demand - from 56 screens to 80. Taking in 32.28 million pesos (US$748,000) it ended up becoming one of the top 20 highest-grossing Filipino flicks of last year.

The story satirises homophobia and features gay zombies and vengeful drag queens.

Now, Singaporean cinephiles will get the chance to catch the sleeper hit here as it will be screening as part of the 2nd Southeast Asian Film Festival.

On at the Singapore Art Museum until March 31, the festival is screening 20 work--all set to give moviegoers a different view to the region's usual tropical isle or foodie image.

Other than the Philippines, countries represented in the film selection include Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.

The event, which is in its second edition, is organised by the museum and curated by film experts Philip Cheah and Teo Swee Leng, both formerly from the Singapore International Film Festival. Last year's festival featured 17 films, out of which were eight sold-out screenings.

Singapore Art Museum director Tan Boon Hui says: "We hope to showcase quality films that reflect the dynamism of Southeast Asian cinema, and provide insight into issues pertinent to contemporary living in Singapore and Southeast Asia. We seek to be timely and fresh, featuring artists whose works deal with current issues such as community, family, gender and sexuality."

Apart from Remington, other must-watch films include Mother's Soul (2011), a lyrical film by Vietnamese director Pham Nhue Giang about the craving for maternal affection, and The Mirror Never Lies (2011), an Indonesian film by Kamila Andini that follows a young girl as she searches for her father who is missing at sea.

Most of the films' directors will attend their screenings, and hold dialogue sessions afterwards.

Indonesia's Shalahuddin Siregar, whose climate change documentary Beneath The Fog (2011) will be shown, is particularly excited about flying down to helm a dialogue session.

Southeast Asian cinema, he says, has "great potential", and he is eager to hear what Singaporean moviegoers have to say about it.

"There is always so much happening in Asia, so we have a lot of great topics to explore. But most Southeast Asian films from the past are always the same - always giving a very depressing outlook on how poor we are or how all the women are bullied by men. I'm glad that the industry is slowly changing, and finally producing films that are slightly more optimistic - or at least more real and multi-dimensional."

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