15 Short Films by 15 Singaporean Filmmakers
Our film industry may be small, but it’s no slouch. Our homegrown filmmakers have made names for themselves in recent years, and their futures are bright not just because they tell good stories, but they do it with a purpose in mind.
To that end, 15 local filmmakers are releasing their films for free online for a good cause. And these filmmakers are not just any old filmmakers but household names who have won acclaim and awards like Eric Khoo, Kelvin Tong, Boo Junfeng and Kirsten Tan.
Here’s the full list of filmmakers:
Untold Singaporean Stories
The project, titled “15 Short Films — From The Ground Up” is a collaboration between film company Blue3Asia, the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) and creative agency AMOK, and aims to tell the “untold” stories of regular Singaporeans from the early 1970s to the late 1990s, a period which the directors believe was crucial to building Singapore into what it is today.
This was back “when bread-and-butter issues were predominant”, the organisers said.
As such, some stories will be curated from archival sources or the personal encounters of the filmmakers themselves.
Evidently, this will mean that a very personal and spontaneous side of regular Singaporeans will be brought to light.
Filmmaker Sean Ng, co-founder of AMOK films and one of the filmmakers in the 15 project, stated that this was a chance to “tell humanistic stories”.
The NVPC is a non-profit charity organisation that, for the first time, has decided to expand its horizons and combine forces with filmmakers for this one-of-a-kind project.
Said to Mr Daniel Yun, founder of Blue3Asia:
This unique approach can be seen as the emergence of community-based film philanthropy in Singapore, to create a special kind of awareness of who we were, and hence who we are today”. […] The films will show that giving; the caring, compassionate and inclusive side of us has always been there.
The project was funded solely by crowdfunding and non-governmental sponsorships, done through the online platform Giving.sg.
Thus, the project is special as it’s actually funded “from the ground up”, i.e. it’s not a government initiative but a citizen initiative.
The 15 filmmakers taking part in this project are of various races and ages, to ensure a variety of viewpoints.
Let’s take a look at some of them:
1. Eric Khoo
His first feature film “Mee Pok Man” (1995) put Singapore on the international film map, and his “12 Storeys” (1997) was the first Singaporean film to be invited to officially participate in the 50th Cannes Film Festival.
Mr Khoo was also the first recipient of the National Arts Council’s Young Artist Award for Film in 1997, and was conferred the Singapore Youth Awards (Individual) in 1999.
2. Kelvin Tong
3. K. Rajagopal
Mr Rajagopal won the Singapore International Film Festival’s Special Jury Prize for three consecutive years, with his movies “I Can’t Sleep Tonight” (1995), “The Glare” (1996) and “Absence” (1997), which were also featured in international film festivals. His short film “Timeless” (2010), won Best Cinematography and Best Editing at the Singapore Short Film Awards 2011.
“A Yellow Bird” (2016), his first feature film, is critically acclaimed, and premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. It is still showing now at The Projector.
Mr Rajagopal, who was at the press conference on Friday (April 28), said of the project:
To bring [these stories] to light is very important. […] You will have different perspectives from all different backgrounds and the unknown factor [of some of these filmmakers] is what will make the stories more interesting.
4. Boo Junfeng
Mr Boo wrote and directed films “Sandcastle” (2010) and “Apprentice” (2016).
“Sandcastle” was the first Singapore film invited to Cannes Film Festival’s International Critics’ Week and was listed by The Wall Street Journal as one of Asia’s most notable films of 2010.“The Apprentice” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival under the Un Certain Regard section.
“Apprentice” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival under the Un Certain Regard section, and was also chosen as Singapore’s entry to the 2017 Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film category.
Identified as an up-and-coming Singapore director, Variety magazine also singled Mr Boo out as the director leading the new wave of Singapore films.
5. Kirsten Tan
Known for her short films, Ms Tan won awards for Best Southeast Asian Film for “Dahdi” (2014), Best Director for “Fonzi” (2007), and Special Jury Prize for “10 Minutes Later” (2006) at the Singapore International Film Festival.
Her first feature film “Pop Aye” (2017) was the first film to win the Special Jury Prize for Screenwriting at the Sundance Film Festival; and the VPRO Big Screen Award at the International Film Festival Rotterdam.
“Pop Aye” is still showing in Singapore’s Golden Village cinemas, and at The Projector.
Read our story about Kirsten Tan’s works.
6. Chong Yu Lun
Mr Chong is the co-founder of corporate video production company Walk and Roll Studios, which has acquired more than 10 filmmaking awards. Their short film “Dao Sha Pia” was shared by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Its short film “Dao Sha Pia” was even shared by none other than Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Rachel and
He and his co-founder Rachel Toh are also behind YouTube channel Butterworks, which has gathered 80 000 subscribers and over 9 million views as of April 2017.
Mr Chong, 25, said the project will “let [the younger generation] think of the past and learn something from it”.
7. Jianhao Tan
A popular YouTube personality in Singapore, Mr Tan has over 746,000 subscribers and 146.3 million views.
In 2014, he started a YouTube production/advertising company, THEJIANHAOTAN, and he also owns the largest gaming entertainment channel in Singapore called NOTGOODGAMERS.
Mr Tan and Mr Chong can be considered up-and-coming filmmakers who’ve made their names on YouTube and appeal largely to the Singaporean Millennials. Despite their young age, their contributions are vital to the project’s vision of reaching out to different audiences.
Glimpse Of Singaporeans’ Lives
We think the project has the potential to show us the lives of Singaporeans back then and how they still affect the way Singaporeans live now, and will let viewers have a break from the same old commercialised TV shows and Hollywood films by giving them a glimpse into untold human interest stories.
The short films, each 5 to 10 minutes long, will be released progressively between June 2017 and December 2018.
While they will be free to watch online, the organisers are also planning an offline paid release.
Featured image and all other images from NVPC Corporate Communications unless otherwise indicated.