Friday, March 14, 2008

Project Slingshot

There are those established names in the film industry that we all know, Eric Khoo, Royston Tan, etc. And then of course their respective landmark films, Meepok Man, 12 Storeys, 881, 15, etc. But talk about the short films of Singapore, and one might draw a blank. Hardly inactive though, the short film scene in Singapore is heating up, with a group of short film filmmakers getting their own showcase in the recent Bristol International Short Film Festival.

Dropping by London on route back to Singapore, some of us got a chance to see their works which were featured in Bristol as part of SCNUK's PROJECT:slingSHORT, a series conceived by SCNUK as a platform for young filmmakers to showcase their works in London. This second incarnation of the series was curated by Singapore filmmaker Boo Junfeng and held on Nov 25, with the support of the Singapore High Commission and Objectifs Films. Held on the premises of the High Commission, some 50 of us got a chance to view short films by Anthony Chen, Victric Thng and Boo himself.

There was Chen's very moving short film Ah Ma (which won a special mention at the recent Cannes Film Festival*), depicting an extended family coming to terms with her imminent death. Thng's short film, The Mole, infused with animation and illustration, was everyone's favourite ("Tim Burton watch out!" someone said). Katong Fugue by Boo featured an excerpt from Singapore playwright Alfian Sa'at's play Asian Boys Vol. II, in which a son begs his mother not to lift the veil on his secret life. Played poignantly by Neo Swee Lin and Luke Kwek, the film centres around a Bach fugue and the Katong house they live in which holds it altogether.

Other filmmakers who got the chance to screen their shorts included Eva Tang’s Londres and Chris Yeo’s WomB, both films exhibited both filmmakers’ expression of their overseas experiences. Other filmmakers like Ryan Tan (Yesterday’s Play) and Jacen Tan (Zo Gang) were more homeward bound in its topics and issues, about characters like an unemployed 24-year old Singaporean boy and his mother, or an Ah-Beng who dreamed of being a filmmaker. And of course there was Roystan Tan’s very short film (or one might call it ad for Apple) D.I.Y. The event was concluded by a somewhat lively Question and Answer segment where the filmmakers were able to answer some of the audience's queries and remarks.

Raising some $750SGD for the International Singapore Film Society*, the event was lauded by those who attended as proof that the film industry in Singapore could only go from strength to strength. One Singaporean joked after the event to me that the local films we had just seen "warmed the cockles of her black heart" and that she was now inspired to catch Royston Tan's feature film 4:30 that would be showing at the Institute of Contemporary Arts later this month here in London. Certainly a most satisfying way to spend a Sunday afternoon for everyone involved!

David Chew
a former arts journalist
pursuing his masters here in london at goldsmiths.

The featured films in PROJECT:slingSHORT and their respective filmmakers:

Zo Gang
Jacen Tan

Londres - London
Eva Tang

Yesterday's Play
Ryan Tan

The Mole
Victric Thng

Ah Ma
Anthony Chen

Royston Tan

Tan Wei Keon

Katong Fugue
Boo Junfeng

Chris Yeo

Logo design + all garphic collater for PROJECT:slingSHORT
was designed by: Kok-Loong Wong of Mind L.A.B


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