Most of today's shorts seem to have a running thread of youth and old age. In Swimming Pool, we see the strength of the relationship between an old man and his granddaughter, where his easy going nature clicked very well with the child when they share a common secret kept away from the antagonistic mom. In Outing, an old man makes the painful decision that it's time his grandchild had care from those who are more able. With Dawn, though unseen, an aged man reminisces about times gone by and inevitable change. Older Children centers around pre-pubescent youths, and The Moth Catcher is firmly rooted in the fantastical genre. My personal take as follows:
Dir: Kat Goh Phek Siang
2009 | 13 min | Cantonese and English with English subtitles | PG
Written by Kelvin Tong, this story would likely to strike a chord with those who have overly concerned parents who are forcibly domineering in their children's lives, dictating the do's and don'ts, and the endless reminders that follow. Kelvin's story had captured such domestic dynamics in his story, which Kat Goh translated beautifully for the big screen.
If you have a nagging parent, then perhaps you can draw the spot on similarities, especially with a dominating, nagging mom here imposing her will on what her daughter should and should not do prior to her going overseas for studies. While it is natural to express concerns and anxieties, this can put a strain on relationships, where a complete opposite comes in the form of the grandfather, as the silent patriarch, putting in a reminder of the need to let go, against the motif of swimming - hold the hand and support, and the learner swimmer will never go far.
Dir: Ho Rui An
2008 | 6:32 min | English | PG
This looked very much like a family home video capturing children as they go about their shenanigans during playtime. Here we see two of them playing with fire, in the form of lit candles and sparklers. There's some forgettable conversation involving, probably jokingly, about a queer dad. All in all, very video like in treatment and delivery, being unscripted and quite voyeuristic, though it had brought to bear the moments we have had experienced before where the world seemed way smaller and our concerns then centered around play, rather than growing more aware and weary of worldly issues and problems.
The Moth Catcher
Dir: Iyvone Khoo & Miguel Guzman
2009 | 8 min | English | PG
It's always a treat to see a short programmed into a festival like this one, when it belongs to the animated genre, or stop motion. In The Moth Catcher, the filmmakers had used puppetry to tell a story about a cybernetic nymph in a sci-fi fantasy short, with an awesome soundtrack provided by The Leaf Label. Even without dialogue, the sumptuous visuals and attention to detail alone will make you marvel at the effort that went behind the scenes to craft the final product.
Dawn / 早晨
Dir: Benjamin Tan (jmin)
2009 | 2:38 min | Hainanese with English subtitles | PG
This film comprised of a series of visuals centered around the landscape of today's Singapore, with scenes especially that of construction of the integrated resorts, the 50-storey HDB flats and plenty of road networks and expressways, amongst others. It's much like a contemporary version of Rajendra Gour's Sunshine Singapore where its value will come from an era much later for anyone wishing to capture a glimpse of an ever-changing Singapore. The story's in the voiceover, where an old man reminisces and probably resigns to his fate of being left behind in the constant of change, speaking in the Hainanese dialect.
Outing / 出门
Dir: Jow Zhi Wei
2009 | 17:43 min | Cantonese, Mandarin and Hokkien with English subtitles | PG
Unravelling in a rather slow pace, Outing makes you wonder up until the final frame, where it dawns upon you that a really sad film had just passed you by. It tells of an aged grandfather and his orphaned grandson being two to face the world together, one primarily the caregiver to the child whose parents got robbed of their lives prematurely. There's a certain sense of dread hanging in the air as they go about doing things together, hanging around the neighbourhood, meeting up with old friends and such, akin to a last supper of sorts until the inevitable parting. It's not death I'm referring to, but an equally painful separation because one realizes the limits Time has imposed, and the ability that dwindles with its passage. The wonderful acting also brought out its sentimentality and heartbreak.
The Q&A session is moderated by Juan Foo, and save for Kat Goh who is away in Hong Kong, the rest of the filmmakers were present to talk about their films and field questions from the audience, moderated by film producer Juan Foo. Instead of relying on a potentially error-prone transcription, why not watch the entire session here:
LtoR: Juan Foo, Iyvone Khoo, Jow Zhi Wei, Ho Rui An, Benjamin Tan (jmin)
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