2SSFA - 'The Forest Spirits' by Ting Szu Kiong


I attended the first nominee sscreening of the 2nd Singapore Short Film Awards expecting films that were of top-notch quality, to say the least. Thus I was actually befuddled over the inclusion of The Forest Spirits, until I found out what the film was nominated for later on.

To say the least, this was definitely the weakest showing of the six films screened for the programme. For it is downright slapstick and tacky. Granted that B-grade films is a respectable genre all on their own—and I would say the best B-grade film would be one that is the most slapstick, the most tacky, the most lame—but this film simply jars from the lineup of what are otherwise pretty outstanding shorts.

Of course there is a need for a crowdpleaser, but this hardly sat in with the Substation crowd.

The Forest Spirits is lame, unfunny, and tries too hard to entertain yet end up leaving audiences confounded over how they spent their last eight minutes of their lives. “What on earth was that?” I thought to myself. Maybe the forest spirits could help me answer that.

Yet my review notes did include one line that was the perfect answer to my initial doubts over the inclusion of this screening: “(The) music is really polished.” Unfortunately, it falls short of winning an award—in fact all the short films nominated for the category fell short—because the judges were looking for sound design that is “more than just putting music into a film” and that “involves a sound scape”. It does make sense—for all the polished technicalities of the music, it only serves to accentuate the scenes onscreen without serving to create a visceral image in the minds of the audience.

This films was nminated for Best Sound (Studio.MB) at the 2nd Singapore Short Film Awards.

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