Over the course of the next two weekends, the 8th edition of the Singapore Short Cuts will unspool a total of 19 short films by veteran and up and coming filmmakers, with animated genre making its inaugural bow in the series. Presented by The National Museum of Singapore Cinematheque and The Substation Moving Images, today's session is almost female director centric save for the final short, and kicks off with two short films from Tan Pin Pin.
The Impossibility of Knowing
From time to time I'd wonder what events might have transpired from the stories I heard about the place I am staying in, which used to be a swampy area, whether it could perhaps hold secrets and tales that are already now forgotten. Tan Pin Pin's latest documentary charts locations in Singapore that you've probably heard of from the high profile incidents put on showcase here, or would have some vague recollection from talking points.
With voiceover provided by Lim Kay Tong narrating the often tragic stories behind the landscapes being featured, from suicides to man made disasters to even the bizarre of an animal being knocked down when it ventured onto a busy expressway. Naturally we don't get to see enactments, but it's chilling with the visuals presenting what currently is, with nary a clue what had happened before, save for Lim's gravely voice reminding us all what once was.
This one is a bit of a mixed bag. Some may deem it a little bit too random for its compilation of vignettes and scenes as diverse as shots in and around the Signature Building at Changi Business Park (oh hello!), Snow City at Jurong and one that captured construction workers hosing down trucks as they leave the mud filled worksite. There are polar bears even, captured in their enclosures swimming from end to end for an extended period of time, but my favourite of the lot, has got to be the opening ceremony of what I deem as one of the most perplexing road tunnels built at Fort Canning, which resulted in the demolition of the old National Library, and not to mention the reworking of the entire road network around the area that includes having buses make a 3-4 lane swing from one side of the road to the other. And oh, the irreverence of that opening ceremony with a walk through celebration just has got to be seen for the absurdity of it all.
One of two films from the students of NYU Tisch School of the Arts Asia in this year's edition of Short Cuts, one cannot deny the technical craftsmanship of those enrolled in the school, as this short film can attest to, being a product of director Atsuko Hirayamagi's first year project. With excellent art direction, cinematography and cast delivery, Wake’s premise is set against quite a morbid incident where a demolition site inspector on his rounds discovers some skeletal remains of a human body. Dealing with a story about family relations when the kin of the deceased appears and the theme of abandonment, someone this short didn’t connect with me as I had felt a certain appealing factor missing, although it is probably the most technically polished of the lot in today’s lineup.
As filmmaker Eva Tang puts it, this was an accidental film, having to combine stock footage taken in Shanghai some years ago combined with the music of Zai Kuning and Koichi Shimizu, and what came out is this aesthetically visual mood piece that I'm sure those who have or are still working in office buildings can attest to experiencing when gazing out of their cubicle windows of their workplace, and see something similar, albeit it being a little more mundane looking in real life, or worst, not even having the time to just look out once in a while.
A school project turned excellent resonance about the hard work put in by countless of workers out there whose meaningful work make the country tick. Undergraduate Afiq Omar decided to embark on this three day shoot from what was a 3 week project, and when time was running out, sought out his father to assist in what would be a day in the life type of documentary film. But what got uncovered was a whole host of societal issues, ranging from having to encounter discourteous drivers on the roads, to personal ones such as the long hours put in to provide for the family, combined with light comedy thanks to the jovial and ultimately chatty nature of his dad the driver, and just how hard a father works to put food on the table, and not to mention the frequently unsaid little things parents do for their kids, from the chauffeuring to the late night suppers this film itself being a testament that encapsulates a parent's love, and pride when they know their best efforts have paid off.
Take a bow, SHA2811M!