Malaysian filmmaker Dain Iskandar Said’s fantasy thriller to open 27th Singapore International Film Festival


The 27th edition of the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) will open with Interchange, a noir fantasy thriller by one of Malaysia’s most celebrated filmmakers, Dain Iskandar Said. Making its Asian premiere at the SGIFF after successful receptions at Locarno International Film Festival and Toronto Film Festival, the film’s opening will be on 23 November 2016.

Interchange brings together Dain Iskandar Said’s love of noir films and his fascination with folklore. An Indonesian-Malaysian collaboration, the film is based on a chain of events triggered by a true incident that took place a century ago, when Norwegian explorer Carl Lumholtz travelled through central Borneo between 1913 and 1917. Among the photographs he took was one of a group tribal women bathing in a river, in an attempt to cleanse themselves of the evil effects of being photographed.

The cast is led by seasoned TV personality and actor Shaheizy Sam, who won Best Actor for his film Songlap in the 1st ASEAN International Film Festival in 2013, and award-winning Indonesian film and TV personality Nicholas Saputra. They are supported by rising star Iedil Putra and Indonesian darling Prisia Nasution, recipient of the Citra Award for Best Leading Actress at the 2011 Indonesian Film Festival for her role in Sang Penari.

Taking on the journey together with young forensics photographer Adam (Putra) and his arrogant, gutsy colleague detective Man (Sam), audiences will find themselves entrenched in Borneo’s traditional folklore and confronted by the mysteries behind a series of macabre ritual murders that have occurred through the city in Said’s subterranean underworld. The mysteries intensified when Adam befriends his new neighbour, the enigmatic and alluring Iva (Nasution) – a Shaman tasked to free the souls of her ancient Borneo tribe who have been trapped inside antique glass-plate negatives. Blood-drained corpses hanging from the ceiling, feathers of an extinct Hornbill littering the ground, and the unfamiliar urban landscape add to Dain Iskandar Said’s unique brew of cinematography in the film. Coupled with the heart-thumping cuts interlaced with intense and emotional pauses, Interchange will shake the audiences’ trusted frame of reality as the story progresses.

Executive Director of SGIFF, Yuni Hadi, said: “SGIFF has always championed Southeast Asian cinema.  Interchange, this year’s opening film, combines Dain Iskandar Said’s skill for genre story-telling with a distinct Southeast Asian flavour to produce a unique thriller that could not have originated from anywhere else. Choosing it as SGIFF’s opening film shows our commitment to celebrating our own voices, highlighting the capability of our creative industry, and welcoming a wider audience to the promise of Southeast Asian cinema.”

This is the third feature of Dain Iskandar Said, after his widely well-received feature five years ago – Bunohan: Return to Murder, which won eight awards at the 25th Malaysian Film Festival – the second most awarded film on the Malaysian Film Festival of all time. It was also selected as Malaysia’s official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film nomination for the 85th Academy Awards.

Sharing his excitement to bring his film to straits shores for its Asian debut after its route in the festival circuit overseas, Dain Iskandar Said said, “It’s exciting to hear and be near the waters closer to home, where after all the story of Interchange took root; shaped by the voices and stories that we all share in the whole of the Nusantara region, from Borneo to Singapore. It is fitting for me to have our Asian Premiere in the Republic, who have had their fair share of great storytellers, talented directors and wonderful world class films. It is indeed high praise and recognition for the Singapore International Film Festival to invite my film Interchange as the opening film to their prestigious festival.”

The 27th edition of SGIFF, which runs from 23 November to 4 December 2016, will take place across various venues, including National Museum of Singapore Gallery Theatre, Shaw Theatres Lido, National Gallery Singapore Auditorium, The Arts House Screening Room, Filmgarde Bugis+ and Objectifs Chapel Gallery. Ticket sales for SGIFF will begin on 28 October 2016.

The SGIFF is an event of the Singapore Media Festival, hosted by Media Development Authority (Singapore). SGIFF’s Official Sponsors include Official Festival Time Partner, IWC Schaffhausen.