Singapore Short Film Awards - The Tibetan Mastiffs by Danny Lim


Easily one of the most forgettable films of the night but the most polished. Comparing his 'My Underwear, My World' to this, this is a big leap in terms of style and professionalism. The seamless documentary would fit in nicely into a Channel News Asia slot except that it had a bit more narrative wit than many of the news channel's programmes. The aesthetics and choice of shots also mirror a lot of the documentary films that came out of Oak 3 Films like 'Veil of Dreams' and 'Brother No.2'. Both seem to come from the same cookie-cutter. The only difference is it had a more refreshing narrator voice.

I must add that it was a gratifying experience watching 'The Tibetan Mastiffs' despite the predictability of it. Abundant in its images of our endearing furry friends, the satisfaction is akin to being fed a dose of National Geographic. And for the dog-lovers, dog porn perhaps. These dogs are so robust and stout yet helplessly loveable that you even feel like touching them. But don't risk your hand, the owner's already said they are only used to 'zi ji ren' (their own people).  A point of pondering there for me about dogs' ability to bond with humans and live side by side.

This brings me to the way the subject of the people of Tibet was introduced. To paraphrase, the Tibetan Mastiffs are strong and resilient to challenges and obstacles, like the people of Tibet. Certainly, the opening up of this narrative window was very clever. But it stopped right at the surface, giving the audience only a partial scent of Tibet's tumultuous historical experience, missing out on the chance to give the film a few more inches of depth. But of course, it's about our furry friends, which my work-beaten eyes could not complain about.

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