8 artsy, thought-provoking documentaries to watch at A Design Film Festival 2016

After six years, A Design Film Festival (DFF) is still going strong. And we’re not complaining at all. We’ve always looked forward to catching the local, Asian and international premieres of titles from across the globe – safe to say, the fest has never let us down.

Back for its sixth edition, DFF has curated films that ‘reflect the zeitgeist of the design landscape’, selecting eight titles out of more than 130 submissions to cover everything from fashion and graphic design to art and sound design.

Plus, for the first time ever, if you miss out on any documentary or wanna add it to your collection, you can rent or buy selected works from the festival online at $10 and $20 respectively.

Watch the trailers for the films below and get your tickets soon, ‘cause they’re selling out really quickly.


Crazy about Tiffany’s
Sept 4 at 3.45pm, Sept 9 at 10pm, Sept 10 at 4.30pm, Sept 11 at 7pm

How on earth did a little jewellery shop from New York grow into a global phenomenon recognised everywhere by its own Pantone trademark? Owning blue since 1852, Tiffany & Co invites you behind the scenes for a glimpse of the brand’s inner workings and how it came to be the gold standard for all that glitters. But if you’re still unsure about whether you wanna delve into the dazzling world of diamonds, perhaps this quote from the trailer will convince you: “There are few American retail outlets that are true institutions. Tiffany’s… [and] 7-Eleven.”

In Pursuit of Silence
Sept 10 at 9.30pm, Sept 11 at 2pm

It’s near impossible to enjoy a second of silence, living in an urban city like Singapore. That’s what makes this documentary all the more amazing. It takes you on a contemplative journey around the world — from a traditional tea ceremomy in Japan to the wild festival season in Mumbai — as you ruminate on your relationship with silence and sound.

Jheronimus Bosch: Touched by the Devil
Sept 10 at 7pm, Sept 11 at 4.30pm

The late Dutch medieval artist Hieronymus Bosch is one of the most celebrated painters of all time — iconic in his works are fantastic imagery of heaven and hell. As 2016 marks his 500th death anniversary, this documentary follows the four-year journey of Bosch experts as they traverse the globe to inspect all known artworks by the painter. One surprising discovery captured on film was that of a new Bosch painting in the United States.

Original Copy

Sept 4 at 6.30pm, Sept 10 at 2pm, Sept 11 at 9.30pm

In an old Hindi cinema lives Mumbai’s last film poster painter. Sheikh Rehman practises the dying art with determination, but as the surrounding neighbourhood undergo modern changes and transformations over the years, he finds it increasingly difficult to preserve his heritage. 

The First Monday in May

Sept 3 at 7pm, Sept 4 at 9pm, Sept 10 at 6.30pm, Sept 11 at 3.30pm

“Fashion can create a dream, create a fantasy. It’s a kind of theatre,” says Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour in the film’s trailer. As co-chair of the 2015 Met Gala, she teams up with curator Andrew Bolton over the months-long preparation for two highly-anticipated events at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City — the opening of the exhibition China: Through the Looking Glass and the celeb-filled, black-tie annual extravaganza that is the Met Gala.

The Happy Film

Sept 3 at 1.30pm, Sept 9 at 7.30pm, Sept 10 at 1.30pm, Sept 11 at 8.30pm

Is it possible to remake yourself into a happy person? Prominent graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister is successful on the surface, and yet he feels there’s something missing in his life. So he embarks on a series of experiments involving meditation, therapy and drugs to see if he can make an impact on his own happiness. Watch as Sagmeister prances around throughout the film in a pale pink bunny onesie stamped with the phrase “lose face” in black capital letters, and you might be prompted to reflect on your own happiness.

We Are X

Sept 3 at 4.15pm; Sept 9 at 9pm; Sept 10 at 4pm; Sept 11 at 6pm

Chronicling the story of immensely popular Japanese theatrical heavy metal band X Japan, which formed in 1982, this tale is told through the eyes of co-founder, drummer, keyboardist and leader Yoshiki. Awash with tragedy, his life has seen plenty of deaths — including his father committing suicide when he was young, and his childhood buddy and X Japan co-founder Toshi being led astray by a cult, breaking up the band with his departure in 1997. Almost 20 years later, the two reunited with new band members to play Madison Square Garden.

Yohji Yamamoto | Dressmaker

Sept 3 at 9.30pm, Sept 4 at 1.30pm, Sept 9 at 7pm, Sept 10 at 9pm, Sept 11 at 1.30pm

Even when you’re a famous designer, your mum admits she initially wanted you to be a businessman (#Asianparents). But the fashion world would’ve been short of an avant-garde tailor if Yohji Yamamoto went down that route. Take a peek into the life of the Japanese dressmaker through interviews with his family, friends and employees to peel back the layers of the enigmatic man.


A Design Film Festival 2016 is from Sept 3-4 at Capitol Theatre and Sept 9-11 at Shaw Theatres Lido. $15/ticket.

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