About Unlucky Plaza

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) screened Ken Kwek’s latest and first feature film, Unlucky Plaza, this month, putting our city-state in the international spotlight. Indeed, this film will make you sit up—it alludes to the many issues that have plagued our island in recent years.

In case the title didn’t give you a hint, the film tells the story of a Filipino immigrant, Onassis (Epy Quizon), who has to make a new life in Singapore after a scandal that took place in his native country. Onassis meets Michelle (Judee Tan), who rents him her parents’ apartment at half the price, while her seemingly affluent husband, Skye (Adrian Pang) tries to persuade her to liquidate it to pay off his debts to the Chinese mafia.

We’re not giving away any spoilers, although it is clear that Kwek drew inspiration from thrillers. Judging from the synopsis, the film mirrors how Singaporeans are like, warts and all. In fact, someone even called the police when Kwek was filming a protest scene in Siglap earlier this year. It also has a multi-racial cast and shines the spotlight on the struggles that immigrants face in city, which, incidentally, was also a feature of Anthony Chen’s Ilo Ilo.

While none of us have actually had the chance to see the film, Kwek is working to get a distributor for it. We’re keeping our fingers crossed and hope that the MDA lets Unlucky Plaza past the censors, unlike Tan Pin Pin’s To Singapore With Love, which was banned earlier this month.

So What’s The Verdict On The New Film?

Kwek is no stranger to censorship—if you’re a local film geek, you’d know that his film, Sex.Violence.FamilyValues was banned three days before its release on 8th October 2012. The reason? Because of “racially offensive” content. Censorship is a hoop that many creators have had to jump through to get their work into mainstream media, and even then, apathetic Singaporeans dismiss local works with the wave of their hand as though they are not important.

Newsflash—they are.

Unlucky Plaza differs from To Singapore With Love, and both of these films tell the stories of many different Singaporeans who have lived in different eras. Through a lens, they give us another perspective of history and life on our island, which is a refreshing take from cracking open a history book or reading the news.

Getting this film past the censors would be a triumph and we would finally have another work added to our growing arts scene. With the help of various social media platforms, we can lend our support, and say no to these censors who are restricting these voices. But wait—let’s not jump the gun and keep our fingers crossed. Here’s hoping that Unlucky Plaza will be released in 2015.

With reference to Facebook, TIFF, and The Straits Times.
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