Absent Without Leave by Malaysian director Lau Kek-Huat also emerged as the favourite feature film among festival-goers at this edition of SGIFF’s Audience Choice Award, in recognition of the growing desire by festival goers for greater involvement. The film, which is also Lau’s debut feature documentary, navigates the murky waters of Malayan history that appears far removed from the present as Lau attempts to reconnect with his absent father. What follows is the gradual unravelling of his grandfather’s forgotten story: an absent father to the filmmaker’s own absent father, but also a guerrilla Communist soldier, a protector, a martyr of Malaya during WWII.

Across the 12 days, festival goers also had the opportunity to get up-close with distinguished film personalities from around the world, including Taiwanese actor Kai Ko, USA director Darren Aronofsky, veteran Hong Kong actor Simon Yam, Vietnamese-born French filmmaker Tran Anh Hung, Hong Kong filmmaker Fruit Chan, Indian director Anurag Kashyap, Hong Kong actress Kara Wai, Taiwanese rocker Wu Bai, award-winning Japanese filmmaker Naomi Kawase, at masterclasses, talks and In Conversation sessions.

The SGIFF celebrated the closing of the Festival by screening White Sun, the Best Asian Feature Film at this year’s Silver Screen Awards, as well as the winning film of the Audience Choice Award, Absent Without Leave. The winners of this year’s Best Southeast Asian Short Film – In the Year of Monkey – and Best Singapore Short Film – Anchorage Prohibited – will also be rescreened alongside the Best Asian Feature Film and Audience Choice Award film respectively. The SGIFF is an event of the Singapore Media Festival, hosted by Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA). SGIFF’s Official Sponsors include Presenting Sponsor, Marina Bay Sands, Official Festival Time Partner, IWC Schaffhausen, and Official Airline, Singapore Airlines.