'SHINGAPORU MONOGATARI' by Hafidz Senor - SIFF Shorts Finalists

This piece is a little suprise in the finalists' selection for various reasons. The first reaction from watching 'SHINGAPORU' was asking myself if there was something wrong with the sound system. So it turns out that, it is soundless movie - not even a silent movie (which often has music in place of all other sounds in the film). Then, you begin to wonder where on earth are the black and white moving images from. They can't be just a series of archival footages because the film was essentially made up of these, which means there is no element of creation in the film.
Then comes the discovery. In the 3rd of 4th footage, if you observe carefully, amidst everything black and white, a modern SBS bus (the current version) glides across a small section of the screen, reaffirming Hafidz's ingenious touch to the moving image.

While having to sit through 12 min of silence and black and white images, guided only by subtitles, can be pretty hypnotic, I secretly found it easy to register moments of the film in my mind after the credits rolled. There was something unsettling about juxtaposing current-day scenes in a war-era filter with a statements that evoke fear about the Japanese Occupation. It is like suggesting that a dark chapter like that could find its way back into our history books again.

Hafidz's boldness is palpable in the way he sticks to using only black and white images and refraining from breaking the silence. Perhaps, any kind of music might have coloured our understanding of his grandfather's account. Coincidentally, after sitting through bouts of hysteria and drama from the other entries, watching 'SHINGAPORU' was sub-consciously welcoming, like a respite. And in fact for the sense of suffering and fear that we have come to associate with the occupation, the use of silence is more accentutating than depletive. It's like the fear of the silent and unspoken.

'SINGAPORU MONOGATARI' is a film that I grew to like on hindsight. So be forewarned, your real sentiments about this film may take a while to coagulate.

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