Chattering up Cine65 - Open Category + Predictions!

Independent filmmaking have been on the rise. More competitions have popped up to cater to the need to suss out emerging new filmmakers, and to provide an opportunity for amateur filmmakers to submit their works to.

ciNE65, is a short film festival launched by Nexus, called for for entries from Singaporeans, or even people who are currently residing in Singapore, to submit a film that will best depict what Singapore means to them. Just looking at the list of nominated films, it is really astounding to watch all the creativity packed into a 3-4minutes short film.

So one afternoon, SINdie team writers Jeremy and Yizhen had a little chat online to discuss the list of nominated films for ciNE65, another short film competition.


Jeremy: I find the favourite actress category nominations strange, in fact questionable. In Singapore Transformed, it was the big sister that got nominated (not the small one who actually stole the show). In Ah Ma, Ah Ma was more watchable than the daughter. What's yr take?

Yizhen: I think they nominated too few favorite actresses. Not enough for 2. If its favorite actress, then I don't see why the younger sister in Singapore Transform is not on the list as well.

J: So who stole your attention among the Open category films, if you are similarly unimpressed with the nominations

Y:I think it should be the little sister in Singapore Transformed. There aren't any female leads in the open category to choose from.

J: I would also give due credit to the American woman in Champion, certainly a cut distinct from the rest of the typically shy, sometimes insecure, female characters always in emotional dilemmas. Haha!

Champion


Y: That could dangerously e an offensive generalization !!! (pause) But she does act out the vivacious visitor ! Not all women are that emotional!

J: Can't help it, it serves to accentuate that delicate emotional Asian woman. (pause)okay enough of stereotyping, let move to the men! For me the choice is clear, what's yours?

Y: I like Brian from You Can Take The Boy Out of Singapore.

J: He made me smile. Okay, more than smile.

Y: He made me cringe and laugh at the same time haha. The filming style is very 90s MV style.

You can take the Boy out of Singapore


J: Mmmm.... why 90s MV?

Y: At 0:28, it reminded me of a very old Faye Wong MV. Even the choice of font used for the title, and credits, they did not use the hip Helvetica and other clean fonts.

J: Haha, for 0:28, you mean the guy dancing with the girl thinking she was real?

Y: When the blond girl was in the centre of the film, dancing.

J: The framing? With the back lighting?

Y: Yes!

J: I see your point, yeah the film is sincerely entertaining and it seeks to be without trying to be stylish, I think usually with unstylish directors, their sense of style is typically a generation back. Just my theory. But love the guy, love the film.

Y: What’s your take of the nominees in art direction?

J: Let me add a bit of suspense, I tell which nominees baffled me with being nominated. I am surprised Monopoly and The Team got nominated. The Team is a well-made film but not for art-direction. Monopoly, well most of the art direction has to be credited to Hasbro. (pause) This leaves Home, Can't Take the Boy and Where we love is Home. (pause) I think Home must take a prize for overall look, it is a very pretty film in which the colour grading complements the art direction. But my top 2 are the latter.

Y: Well, if these films are nominated based on public votes, then these people do have a lot of friends man! I think Where we love is home has better art direction than Can't take, although the message of the film for Where we Love is very strange.

Where we love is Home


J: Well, can I just say the two eye-candies seemed to be part of the art direction :P (pause) And what is your favourite?

Y: My top choice is Home, even though I liked the idea of the split screen for Where we love is Home. I like Home for art direction because of how the choices made in the film stimulates the mood of the film. The nostalgic lens, the luggage, the choice of toys, luggage etc, all very carefully placed. It's a simple yet beautiful film

J: Yes agree with 'carefully placed'

J: You know, i have a feeling we don't have to dwell too long on Best cinematography because we may unanimously agree on the same film

Y: Quite an obvious choice ain’t it?

Singapore Food Encyclopedia


J: And I really feel this winner should be commissioned by Singapore Tourism Board to do a video for them.

Y: Cine65 is launched by Nexus, which is already a stat board from the government that focuses on national education. So I'm not too sure whether this video submissions' copyright will go to the government anyhow, including STB.

J: It would be sad if it was right?

Y: So maybe don't even need commission, STB can just take the film.

J: I would hold a facebook protest if that happens!

Y: But it'll also be a great honor for the director, and his team to be commissioned to create a *brand new* commercial for them. (pause) Hahahaa!! the public doth protest!

J: Yes, Singaporeans have claws ok! (pause) Too bad there is no award for Best CGI.

Y: It is really quite impressive though!

J: And well shot too! Notice they played on the term 'transformers' in 'transformed' with that robot. (pause) The Best Sound category also has an obvious winner for me, not sure about you. Oops I take that back, there are 2 entries that stand out.

Singapore Transformed


Y: How would you select the winners for Sound Design?

J: Well, I see the visual as only half the film. Good design fills the other half or lifts otherwise ordinary visuals up beyond what they literally represent. And of course, something that surprises me off my chair as a bonus! What then is good sound design for you?

Y: Hmm, if it was for this sort of competition, I would look for originality and how it would support the visuals of the film and compliment (or surprise) me.

J: And which one(s) stood out for you?

Y: Honestly, it'll be Walking.

J: Interesting, my two favourites are Singapore Transformed and Team. (pause) Why Walking? I only notice a drone :P

Y: Haha, it's not easy to mix different drones together.

J: Lol!

Y: So for the sound design in Walking, the mix of different tones, voice overs and the harmonica(?) sound, brings a sense of nostalgia that accompanies the film, which I think its a perfect compliment. It's a very different Sound Design than those 2 films that you have pointed out.

J: Mmmm... I feel like the boring one now. I like Singapore Transformed because the sound design was functionally perfect i.e. look like the sound does not make the robot look too B Grade. And the Team because it recreates a bigger atmosphere out of a simple neighbourhood playground. (pause) And sorry I still think the complex blend you were talking about is a drone. :P

Y: I think because I used to have training in Music (taking Music Elective Programme, and piano) that's why I know it's hard to craft such sound design.

J: OK, you win! (pause) Moving on…. where it gets more exciting, away with the technicals, let's look at the heart and the ideas, what's your take for Best Screenplay?

Y: Haha! Anyway, the Best Screenplay nominees seem to have very dialogue heavy screenplay. My favorite for the win is The Team.

J: For me, first of all, I would not nominate any film that lazily puts together a montage and overlays it with a monologue. There were many of them. It's a lazy way to tell a story. Thankfully, there is only one in nominees - Brother, which is not too bad in the way it marries the narration with the visuals. For me, it's a tough choice between The Team and Can Take the Boy out of Singapore.

Y: Though I must add my personal favourite is Home which is not nominated.

J: Why Home?

Y: The dialogue between the boys is relatively smooth, and in literature, there is a use of puns and metaphors. for this film, I think the screenplay use these functions and translate into film. Such as, the choice of the size of the actors, what they should wear, what they should be doing, what they should be carrying are all symbolic.

J: I didn't like the ending though. It was too convenient.

Y: Yeah but I think honestly, with 3 minutes I can't think of another way to end it. I like happy endings but not convenient endings.

Y: Who doesn't? I think it's the challenge for all directors, and screenplay writers to find the perfect endings

J: So what's yr favourite for screenplay then?

Y: My favorite to win the screenplay is The Team. I liked that they use the various languages for the various races and they use the very Singapoream Oh-ya-bey-ya-som to choose the team.

The Team


J: I like the intentional 3 racial teams, though you knew how it was going to end but still to give credit for the thought.

Y: Yeah. I think it works very well… and I love the ending where the director tied in with the line, "accomplishments have no color"

J: Yes, I like the line, it's bold and actually touches on quite a sensitive nerve

Y: Exactly. In all honesty, we can be quite a racist country sometimes.

J: Especially when racial differences and misunderstandings are quickly swept beneath the carpet without properly resolving them. And they are often resolved with a National Day song or a Banner that predictably photo-shops 4 races standing next to each other.

Y: There is the Racial Harmony Day, remember?

J: Haha, yes

Y: But it's funny we don't celebrate it when we are out of JC. It's like, appreciation of other races stops after 17.

J: That's when racial harmony appreciation needs to recognise differences and reconcile them as well. (pause) Anyway, Best Editing is quite a difficult choice.
Singapore Transformed is great in terms of aftereffects for obvious reasons. Where we love is Home is a strong contender. The Japanese one is funky but it plagiarises a YouTube viral video I have seen before - especially the last portion when the guy walks towards the camera and the scenery changes. The Team's editing is seasoned and does justice to the screenplay.

Y: So among these 3, if you have to pick only 1, which short film should be awarded?

J: I would put my vote to Where we love is Home. I think it was a difficult edit and definitely a film made in the cutting room

Y: I personally like Story of a Foreigner. With a (monotonous) monologue overlaying the film, the edit have to be interesting to bring the whole film together.

J: Good point!

Y: Which the editing did help a lot to bring the film together and it make even more interesting

J: Like I said, I would have given it more brownie points if not for the copycat ending

Y: But what is creativity if it's not copied (aka inspired) from other creative sources :p Even Steve Jobs steal ideas!

J: Okay fine, while there are plenty of copycat stylistics and narratives in the entries, I must say I was pleasantly delighted by some of the originality observed, especially in directing

Story of a Foreigner


Y: For instance?

J: Home like you said had very tight and coherent overall direction. Same goes for the team, I even like the little touches of putting famous soccer player names on the back of T-shirts. You can take the Boy out of Singapore is in a class of its own. What's your opinion on the directing?

Y: For me, the most important aspect of directing should be how they use certain camera angles, pan shots, even (fast/slow) shots and montages to deliver the idea, message or story. It should be smart, and leave an audience to think about the film. Honestly I think Boy out of Singapore has a very 90s MV feel, as I have mentioned before. For Home and The Team, I enjoyed both direction. For Home, what impressed me was the use of pan shots for the two different characters as well as the choice of camera angles when it comes to showing the dialogue between the two boys. (pause) It tells of a different, more sophisticated directing where the camera angles and pan shots actually mean something, which I personally feel it is lacking from some filmmakers.

J: I agree Home was a delicately pieced together film that paid attention to the visual nuances.

Y: Maybe directors should use Battle of Potemkim as reference to what I am trying to say.

J: What about the Battle of Potemkim?

Y: Directing using the various camera angles, lighting that brings tension to the storyline. Mind you, last time film don't even start out with recorded dialogue!

J: That's true, it really trains the director!

Y: Or to put it more relatable and simplistic, can look at films directed by Charlie Chaplin, like Modern Times. If your film can do without dialogue, and still tell a story with just the angles then I'll be truly impressed, and of course, the choice of actors, location, props etc…every tiny detail should work.

J: But I would also go on to argue that it is a fine balance between meticulous craft and bold whims. For me, I need to see his or her whims fleshed out in order to 'hear' the voice of the director. A director with too much craft and no voice leaves no impression too. (pause) It seems difficult to please you in terms of good direction, I am then curious to know what the Best Film must have?

Y: Hahahha! I'm just speaking from the grounds of a humble film student. I'm sure it's even tougher if one is actually on the ground directing

J: Yes, when you are on the ground, you fighting with time, location, passers-by, actors forgetting lines and security guards who tell you cannot shoot cannot shoot that! (pause) But what would make Best Film for you?

Y: Tie between Home and The Team

J: I have a simple criteria, the film that makes me want to watch over and over again and locks something into my brain wins. In fact, I would trawl through not just the nominees for this answer. For me, I would watch Home and You Can Take The Boy out of Singapore again. Home when I am feeling languid and nostalgic, You Can Take the boy when I want to be entertained. How would you decide between Home and The Team, they are quite similar, young boys in the play area.

Y: Both films carry different messages, to me, and I especially liked Home because of the way it's shot and the choice of the actors, props and location. It gives me a different perspective whenever I go back to re-watch it.

J: I must say meticulous art direction, cinematography, a moving soundtrack aside, nothing touches me more than the genuine look of loss on the protagonist's eyes when he says 'I am going away'. (pause) You know what?

Y: What?

J; As a befitting end to this dialogue, it sounds like we are coming 'home' on common ground if you are choosing what I am choosing.

Y: Yes. Home for Best Film!

J: Yes. And incidentally, it was the first film I watched.

Home


Our Predictions for the Winners
Overall Best Film
Jeremy - Home
Yizhen - Home

Best Direction
Jeremy - Home
Yizhen - Home


Best Editing
Jeremy - Where we love is Home
Yizhen - Story of a Foreigner

Best Screenplay
Jeremy - Can Take the Boy out of Singapore
Yizhen - The Team

Best Sound Design
Jeremy - The Team
Yizhen - Walking

Best Cinematography
Jeremy - Singapore Food Encyclopedia
Yizhen - Singapore Food Encyclopedia

Best Art Direction
Jeremy - Where we love is Home
Yizhen - Home

Favourite Actor
Jeremy - You can take the boy out of Singapore
Yizhen - You can take the boy out of Singapore

Favourite Actress
Jeremy - American lady in Champion (not nominated)
Yizhen - Little sister in Singapore Transformed (not nominated)

The results will be out 16 November. Stay tuned to http://cine65.sg !

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