Kway Chap | Sun Koh & Old Friends | Royston Tan

…… I finished my post yesterday but today it disappeared….. Sigh.

Kway Chap by Sun Koh runs only 15 minutes long. It documents the stories of Koh’s past family business running a famous Kway Chap stall. This story was born out of nostalgia and regret, as this stall and her old house no longer exists. Capturing the reactions and recollections of her parents on film, this was perhaps her attempt in concretising the family’s heritage and history largely grounded by the Kway Chap stall.

Watching it made me think about my own family and how I should document my memories before I no longer have a chance to. Perhaps even learn a few dishes from my grandmother or just document where I live in general.

Old Friends felt more like those Channel 8 food review series where people judged how good the food was, what they recommend and stuff. I couldn’t really appreciate it for the artistic qualities.

Watched these at Singapore Heritage Festival @ ACM this year! Only managed to be part of the Caldecott Broadcasting event and also Heritage events at ACM. I felt that there wasn’t really the education aspect, in the sense that people did not have the opportunity to learn about the heritage of the place and what is so good about the place itself. The only time I learnt about Caldecott was on the shuttle bus where the tourguide attached to the bus mentioned it to us. Otherwise, the events were really family friendly and relaxed. Happy that they screened 7 Letters and I got to rewatch I Not Stupid by Jack Neo!

7 Letters

Last post for the week!!! (God bless)

I caught this film finally at Singapore Heritage Festival. In fact, I went to Caldecott and skipped work solely for this. I would not say it was worth it (or not) but I spent time with my sister who was great company so I’m not complaining.

7 Letters was a film done for the Singapore Film Commission in 2015. It is a Singaporean drama film directed by seven different directors, comprising of seven short stories celebrating Singapore’s 50th anniversary. The seven directors are Eric Khoo, Jack Neo, Royston Tan, K. Rajogopal, Tan Pin Pin, Kelvin Tong and Boo Junfeng.

My favourite were Bunga Sayang by Royston Tan and Grandma Positioning System (GPS) by Kelvin Tong. Both featured a child about 7-10years old and a grandmother. The former was about a chinese boy whose parents are hardly at home and forgets to pay the utilities bills. As such, the water supply gets cut off whenever he is bathing. He then seeks help from this Malay grandmother who is his neighbour. Speaking different languages but feeling the same loneliness and earning for connection, this film is heartwarming and quite comical, with insertion of song and dance.

The latter was set during the Qingming festival, where a chinese family of two kids, mother and father and a grandmother visits their late grandfather/father/husband in Johor Bahru. Despite everybody rushing home to settle their day to day worries, grandmother took her time to talk to her late husband, describing to him the way home. Listing how things in Singapore has changed, and how his road home changed, the audience is reminded on how much Singapore’s geography has evolved. The second time around when they visit, grandmother has passed away and is buried with grandfather. The family cleans the burial site quickly and leaves. A distance away in the car, the boy rushes out and runs back to the burial ground. He starts to recite to his grandmother and grandfather the way home, telling them that they moved house. The family, chasing after him, sees this and joins in poignantly. In the last scene, we see the grandparents slowly making their way towards the railway and possibly to their grandchildren.

This made me think about the traditions that my own grandparents hold on to, and the fears that they could possibly have. How some traditions are kept simply because it comforted some people, not necessarily making sense or having scientific reasons.

A Yellow Bird | K. Rajagopal

A quick post for tonight.

I watched A Yellow Bird with Jessica and I liked it, although I don’t think I will remember it as much as other arthouse films perhaps because there’s simply a lack in action or progressive plot.

A Yellow Bird highlights the marginalisation of minorities in Singapore, especially those we do not usually think about. Rajagopal had characters that were illegal immigrants, ex-convicts, poor (Indian) people, the Mainland Chinese and sex workers all in one film. Despite being seemingly ambitious, I felt that he did a good job in linking all these into a coherent story, albeit with no start and no end.

His artistic choices are really interesting and in particular, I liked the idea of using water and land for symbolism. He associated water to hope and somehow somewhy I think it is universal that water symbolically heals. I also liked how Rajagopal pays attention to how light and sound are used to heighten the audience’s awareness of the main character’s environment and metaphorical situation.

I was really impressed by Huang Lu’s acting and professionalism in creating her character. Rajagopal said that there was quite a bit of improvisation for her and Sivakumar Palakrishnan, who stars as the main character and they ended up making the scene beautiful, naked (metaphorically… and literally) and raw.

Ultimately, there was anxiety and loneliness in the film amongst all characters that one could identify with themselves or at least empathise with. In the film, we are only presented the reality of the world through Siva’s eyes and hence his actions, his behaviours and antics. However, as the audience, we are also aware of the implications of his actions on others around him.

Maybe, one of the takeaways of the film that Rajagopal wanted his audience to take away is for us to pay more attention to those around us and not to dismiss these people as stereotypes but more as an individual with their own problems. Perhaps, it is just to acknowledge the human frailty and see the more emotional, less rational fragment of the mind react when one is pushed out of their own comfort zones.

Homecoming | He Shuming, Royston Tan

Homecoming was commissioned by the National Museum of Singapore for Singapore Heritage Festival 2016 with support from the Singapore Film Commission. I watched it at SCAPE on 20 Jan and enjoyed it quite a bit. I believe the residents of Ubin would have liked it also.

After watching it, many questions regarding the film and its resultant consequences surfaced in my mind. The film seemed to bring up the ideas of Ubin’s history and its impending disappearance, which I don’t think was what NMS was trying to achieve. But in particular, I liked the honesty of the characters and felt that the production team did a good job with building the rapport with them.

I went with Kristel who was new to the arts scene so she feedbacked that it was a nice experience. I invited Clarence to come for the film and caught up with him, to which he feedbacked that it was good to be involved and active in the arts again after so long.