'She Shapes a Nation' by Dana Lam - SIFF

The amount of effort put into a video like this can only be described as mammoth. It certainly warrants a screening on a grander scale, with a more specific purpose. Instead, the significance of this video seems compromised by being screened alongside pieces like 'Pang Sai Palace'. 'She Shapes a Nation' opens with talking heads interviews with the early female activists and social leaders in Singapore. The initial interviews do not command too much noticing from me because I surmised that it might turn out to be another TV-style documentary. But I feel the filmmaker must be too learned on this issue for a staid documentary. She is Dana Lam, a previous president of AWARE.

In fact, the interviews milked a lot of personally unique experiences the women had in terms helping to raise the profile of women in Singapore. Every women had an anecdote to share instead of politically correct statements to reiterate. I cannot forget Yu Foo Yee Shun relating her experience with people whob hurled 4-letter words at her. Neither can I forget that Sun Koh, the filmmaker led her parents to pay a fine for breaking the 'Stop-at-2' marker. In fact, Dana reached out to a good cross section of women which would have been a challenge in the capacity of a younger and more average filmmaker.

Another interesting aspect of the video is seeing how some earlier women leadesr have moved on. I remember when i was in school, Dr Seet Ai Mee, Dr Aline Wong and a few other female figures took up significant roles in a male-dominated Parliment. If I am not wrong, they were the first women MPs. Not to be sexist, but I was always been curious to observe how the women 'wore the pants' in Parliment, often exuding a very different kind of aura from men. So having these women in the documentary certainly enriched the film for me personally.

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