Filament 2010 - A Light in the Darkness by Liew Shi Xiong

My heart sinks a little everytime I see a painstakingly put-together period short film (by a young group of people) not quite reaching the audiences it is meant to reach. They seem to occupy a strange spot in the whole ecosystem of films. They often reflect a certain fascination or fetish towards re-creating an old period on film, hence the payoff for the filmmakers is often in the fun of making these films. Yet, the young directors who are making these period shorts, often lack the life experience and maturity to pitch their stories at a credible level or to deliver the soul and spirit of a time in the distant past. And often, the budget do not suffice making it look commercially polished enough to reach out to a wider audience. 


But that is not discourage filmmakers from shooting what they care for, more to brace them for what may not seem so rosy after they have hung up the costumes, shelved the props and dropped the funny archaic mode of speech. 'A Light in the Darkness' carries a strong Buddhist overtone and message. It centres around a Buddhist monk in Singapore, during the Japanese Occupation, who supported relief efforts in China and also sheltered droves of refugees. In portraying this tiny episode of his life, we witness a beacon of courage in a dark period of history. The film does not tread new ground as there have been a dozen WWII films about acts of courage. But Shi Xiong's choice of a simple message and its singular focus on one character makes this film rather effective and well pitched for a relatively young person's understanding of a complex event. 

It is ironic that the film is actually quite visually dark for its title! This is where there seems a natural distinction between the works of the NTU ADM students and the NTU WKW Sch of Comms students. you would expect the latter to be less technically adept since the focus of their course is different. A lot more can also be done to enhance the production value of the film from the location to the shooting format. And I am sure not all are expensive to create.

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