An SG Film for Every Occasion in 2016

Happy New Year everyone! As the new year starts, here is something handy for those who want a primer on recent Singapore films, especially if you haven't been keeping up and you want a reason to watch. We are giving you a 'Watch SG Film Calendar' here because we believe there is a film for every occasion through the coming year. Here is hoping that these films will enhance these special days to come. 

New Year’s Day
1 Jan  
‘In the room’ by Eric Khoo
In Room 27 in a fictitious Hotel Singapura, a young man named Damien dies of an overdose of happy pills on New Year's Day. Straddling between the netherworld and the real world, in Eric Khoo's terms, Damien plays a creepy voyeuristic ghost who stalks human beings caught in relationship junctures tied to sex. Slicing through a cross section of the decades, this is somewhat Eric's tribute to Singapore going through puberty. For those who want to say Happy SG50 for the last time, say it with this film.

Thaipusam 
24 Jan
‘Journey of a Kavadi Bearer’ by Navin Kumar
Navin Kumar' short film 'Journey of a Kavadi Bearer' offers you an unusual insight into the festival many of us may feel squeamish about. It is unusual because this is actually the journey of a Chinese medium getting into the body piercing ritual of Thaipusam. Get into the psyche of a devotee and revisit this rich tradition that's been played out on our streets for the longest time. And thankfully for a return to good sense with the lawmakers, they don't need to turn the volume down again this year.


Chinese New Year
8 & 9 Feb   
‘Homecoming’ by Lee Thean Jean
No CNY is as close to the local experience as much as 'Homecoming'. It's got everything a Singaporean and Malaysian needs to feel festive. There is Karen Neo, the naggy Singaporean mum who is trying to look like an Ah-Joon-Ma  (Korean auntie) played by the inimitable Jack Neo. There is the goofy kampung boy-next-door Ah Niu who plays her son. There is that familiar bus ride up Malaysia and the even more familiar toilet experience of having no toilet paper! And of course lots of CNY cheer for the whole


Valentine’s Day 
14 Feb 
‘The Girl in Pinafore’ by Chai Yee Wei
Though an ode to Xinyao, 'The Girl in Pinafore' is really a 'pak tor' movie, with heart-stirring love songs that speak of more innocent times Singapore has seen, the 80s/90s to be exact. This was a time without Facebook and Instagram and East Coast Park was still possibly romantic for a date. The film follows a group of school mates who bond through song and dance, and there is also a tragic Romeo and Juliet plot thread that hopes to yank a few tears from you.


15 February
15 Feb
‘To Singapore with Love’ by Tan Pin Pin
15 Feb is actually not a special day but the title of a song composed and performed by Francis Khoo, one of the political exiles interviewed in Tan Pin Pin award-winning film 'To Singapore with Love'. Sounds heavy? The film's really quite relatable as it more interested in how they live the day-to-day and how they connect with the Motherland now.


April fool’s Day 
1 Apr 
‘Mr Unbelievable’ by Ong Kuo Sin
After almost becoming the PSY of Singapore, actor Chen Tianwen wants to stun you like a vegetable even more with this feature film. And that's no joke. Getai gets a new twist with English lyrics. Think '881' translated. The film also offers some 'feel good' sense of hope as it is about a man who wants to sing a different tune from his family's Getai staples and eventually fulfills his dream. Don't think too much when watching this. Just sing along with your heart.


Labour Day 
1 May  
‘Labour day’ by He Shuming
This Labour Day, pay tribute to workforce heroes with He Shuming's short film 'Labour Day', which is essentially a collection of 3 female portraits - a peidu mama who moonlights in red lights, a Malaysian photocopying lady who fails to get her work permit renewed and their landlady.


Mother's Day 
8 May  
‘Money No Enough 2’ by Jack Neo
While Jack Neo's 'Money No Enough 2' is a take on money-besotted Singapore, it is also an ode to all mothers. While chasing money, three brothers need to take care with their dementia-stricken mother who cannot remember the colour of the last bra she wore. This film is proven to milk your tears according to feedback from many. It will also


June School Holidays
‘Singapore Panda’ by Sun Koh
Whether you have visited Kai Kai and Jia Jia at the River Safari or not during the June school holidays, 'Singapore Panda' by Sun Koh is rather exceptional edu-tainment material for the whole family. You get to learn about pandas and the art of storytelling on radio. The mischievous digs on the state of radio and commercialisation will also tickle you silly. 
(No trailer available)

Father's Day  
19 Jun
‘3688’ by Royston Tan
Celebrate Father's Day with an air of nostalgia thanks to the sounds of the Rediffusion aa heard in Royston Tan's latest feature film '3688'. While a tribute to the late Taiwanese singer Fong Fei Fei, the movie peers into the life of a 'Carpark Summon Auntie' and her trying relationship with her father who (like the mum in 'Money No Enough') also has dementia. Essentially, she is trying to take care of her father who thinks he is taking care of her by selling Rediffusion sets, an obsolete product. Note: If your father is a baby-boomer and understands Mandarin and Hokkien, there is a high chance he listens to Fong Fei Fei too! 


SAF Day 
1 Jul 
‘Ah Boys to Men’ by Jack Neo
Need we say more?
Mind you there is already 4 in the pipeline, after the success of Part 1, 2, 3. Steady Lah!


Youth Day
3 Jul  
1. ‘Red Dragonflies’ by Liao Jiekai
What do youths think about these days - What to post on Facebook? What to post on instagram? Travelling to faraway places? So what is Youth Day about? Liao Jiekai's 'Red Dragonflies revisits youth through the jungle adventures of three students who like they are wearing NJC uniforms. Trekking through a huge expanse of foliage, one of them drops into a hole and disappears. Then time leaves that episode behind and the characters have moved on with their own lives until they decided to look back, revisit and ask big questions again. Have a thoughtful Youth Day!

2. ‘The Songs We Sang’ by Eva Tang
This documentary about the Xinyao movement will make the Gen-X among us feel youthful again. Tracing the development of this music culture that is somewhere between folk and pop, the film also speaks of a time when a guitar is all you needed to create the next radio hit. This labour of love by filmmaker Eva Tang features interviews with pop stars like Stephanie Sun, JJ Lin as well as footage from a mini Xinyao concert at the Bras Basah complex, that saw crowds throng the corridors.

Hari Raya Puasa 
6 Jul
1. ‘Sayang Disayang’ by Sanif Olek
If food helps unlock festive cheer, then surely some fresh sambal goreng during Hari Raya Puasa will add sizzle and spice to the occasion. Sanif Olek's first feature film, about an Indonesian domestic helper who tries to cook sambal goreng to win the heart of her disabled master, will restore your faith in good old-fashioned human values like friendship, forgivesenes and redemption.  This film was also Singapore's entry to Oscars Foreign language film category in 2014.

2. ‘03-flats’ by Lei Yuan Bin
Amy Tashiana shows you how to celebrate Hari Raya Puasa in style even when your HDB flat isnt too accomodating in terms of space. She uses her corridor and a huge serving of spirit and zest as a host. This documentary '03-Flats' puts the microscope on the lives of three women who live in vastly different HDB units, with interior designing (or the lack of) defining each of the flats and mirroring each woman's personality. One lives a very spartan life with minimal furnishing, one is a visual artist who has transformed the flat into an impressive studio. Last but not least, there is the larger-than-life Amy whose mix of boudoir and glamour will convince you that the shoebox which is the HDB is what you make of it.


Singapore Food Festival
July
‘Old Friends’ by Royston Tan
Royston Tan gives Makansutra the cinematic treatment with meticulously executed shots of food and their preparation overlaid with earnest voices from the hawkers who will convince you their food is made from the heart. Something to whet your appetite duri


National Day
9 Aug 
1. ‘7 letters’ by Royston Tan, Eric Khoo, Jack Neo, Tan Pin Pin, Kelvin Tong, Boo Junfeng, K Rajagopal
'7 Letters' is possibly one of the best SG50 tributes we saw in 2015. It brings together what might be the 'Big 7' among Singapore directors (Eric Khoo, Jack Neo, Tan Pin Pin, Boo Junfeng, K Rajagopal, Kelvin Tong, Royston Tan (Anthony Chen not included)) and jogs an assortment of memories about Singapore. It is essentially an omnibus of 7 short films made by the 7 directors, each given the stimuli that their film is a love letter to home. We dare say surely will laugh, and likely can cry. (Plus Jack Neo's segment has zero product endorsement for once)

2. ‘1965’ by Randy Ang and Daniel Yun
The other film that was made for and timed with Singapore's 50th anniversary is '1965'. This obviously period film depicts Singapore in a time when racial relations were tense and Lee Kuan Yew did the crying thing. Watch this for the epic treatment, cast of thousands, high production values and Lim Kay Tong's LKY impression.


Hungry Ghost Festival
Aug   
1. ‘2359’ by Gilbert Chan
2. ‘881’ by Royston Tan

Take a pick? Do you want horror or comedy this 7th month? Such is the multi-faceted nature of the Hungry Ghost Festival in Singapore that it spooks you, shocks you, tickles you and entertains you. Stories involving the netherworld are aplenty to make you want to reach home before 23:59 every night in fear that you may bump into some woman with long hair and a white dress. For people who are not afraid, test your tolerance by watching '2359'. This horror film is about the fateful Charlie Company in Pulau Tekong in which a recruit disappeared from his platoon and was found dead and disembowelled later.


For those who cannot stomach horror,  opt for a signature piece from Royston Tan, '881'. Through the singing career of the 'Papaya Sisters', we are taken through the melodies and beats of Hokkien songs and realise that they are actually quite melodic. This was the film that redefined Hokkien music and made it somewhat cool. Don't miss it!


Teacher’s Day 
2 Sep
‘Kallang Roar’ by Cheng Ding An
We found a good teacher in Uncle Choo from Cheng Ding An's 'Kallang Roar' - a film about how the Singapore Lions won the Malaysia Cup  (soccer) in 1977. That was the legendary team with Quah Kim Song and Dollah Salleh, led by the team's coach Uncle Choo. This is a 'road to victory', feel-good kind of film about fighting, sportsmanship, friendship and a very inspiring teacher. It is like a Singapore version of Mr Holland's Opus (played by the late Robin Williams). For soccer fans, subject matter aside, the movie has the blessing of the 2 legends Quah Kim Song and Dollar Kassim as their sons acted in the movie.


Hari Raya Haji  
12 Sep
‘Road to Mecca’ by Harman Hussin
There are many movies out there about the Mecca Pilgrimage but this is one made by Harman Hussin, a Singaporean about his road trip to Mecca. Little encounters and pockets of surprises make the film more than just a 'Lonely Planet' video. These include a grand prayer session in India that resembled a Hollywood set and a serendipitous encounter with a girl called 'Priti' (no pun intended) in Lahore at a high, breathtaking vantage point overlooking the whole city. 


Children's Day 
7 Oct 
‘Innocents’ by Wong Chen Hsi
Growing up in Singapore back in the 70s and 80s, many would be more familiar with the concept of 'tough love' than the children today. Everyone was caned at least a few times by their parents but in today's Singapore, kids have it easier.  This film, while taking a leaf from the authoritarian culture we experienced in the earlier decades, also offers some questions for children and adults today about conforming and finding their own space. Two young school children, class monitor Syafiqah and rebel Ah Huat, form a close friendship driven by the oppression of their school and find solace in spaces like the public drains where they can claim their own. A film like this makes Children's Day a little more thoughtful.

Deepavali 
29 Oct
‘Stranger’ by Boo Junfeng
'Stranger', one of Boo Junfeng's earliest short films, takes you on a tour through the human maze that is Little India near the Deepavali season. Pregnant with reminiscent thoughts, we see Little India through the director's eyes who is rekindling old memories of happy times spent here. A little fun, a little sad, a little deep and a lot honest.
Stranger - (2004)
from Boo Junfeng on Vimeo.

Halloween 
31 Oct 
‘The Maid’ by Kelvin Tong
Go ahead and scare yourselves silly this Halloween by watching The Maid, possibly the scariest local horror flick on record so far. A Filipino domestic enters into service for a Singaporean Chinese couple in an eerie-looking shophouse. Discovering what her fate could be will send electric chills down your spine.

World Kindness Day  
13 Nov
1. ‘Dahdi’ by Kirsten Tan
2. 'Not Working Today’ by Tan Shijie 
Believing in 'paying it forward' may not be the easiest thing in today's world but these 2 short films will restore your faith in kindness. 'Dahdi' by Kristen Tan is about an encounter between a Rohingya refugee and a Singaporean Ah Ma. While the Ah Ma makes a police report about the refugee's intrusion, she also instinctively offers her milo and other items of comfort.

'Not Working Today' is about a Bangladeshi construction worker who needs to take a breather from the daily grind of work but has no money to see a doctor and he discovers an unexpected pocket of kindness from a Singaporean. 
(No trailer available)

World Toilet Day  
19 Nov
‘Everybody's Business’ by Lee Thean Jeen
Did you know that World Toilet Day was invented by a Singaporean? The person who invented it is Jack Sim, who, like us, feel Singapore can do better when it comes to toilet hygiene. The film 'Everybody's Business' puns the word and the concept of 'shit' to death but is still immensely entertaining. There is an abundance of laughing material if you don't mind the toilet humour overdose. There is a department called the Ministry of Toilets in which Kumar is the toilet minister. This minister literally walks the talk and visits local coffeeshops to take dumps to test the condition of coffeeshop toilets. Then there is the epic sewage pipe bursting sequence where it rains shit everywhere. Enough kick, enough entertainment and a nice useful message to take home.


World Aids Day 
1 Dec
‘Rubbers’ by Han Yew Kwang
Have a little fun while remembering to have safe sex on World Aids Day, with the comedy 'Rubbers'. If this trailer clip of award-winning actress Yeo Yann Yann slipping a condom over a banana rocks your boat, go catch it as the movie promises to be as naughty as Ris Low's red 'bigini'.


International Migrant Workers Day
13 Dec
1. ‘Ilo Ilo’ by Anthony Chen
Take this day to remember the contribution of our migrant workers who are helping to build our new MRT lines and take care of our house chores and children. There is no better movie to remind us that they too form an important block in our social jigsaw puzzle than Anthony Chen's award-winning film 'Ilo Ilo'. Based on Anthony's personal experience, the film depicts the growing relationship between a young boy and Terry, the Filipino domestic worker who lives with him. Certainly a film worth watching based on its own merit, anytime of the year.

2. Unlucky Plaza’ by Ken Kwek
While Onassis is not exactly a migrant worker in the film 'Unlucky Plaza' by Ken Kwek (more like a migrant business owner), this film's allusion to Lucky Plaza, a meeting point for thousands of Filipino domestic workers every week, is a reminder of the mixed social fabric we have in Singapore. This film, as some reviewers have mentioned, is a Singapore film like no other due to the director's bold over-the-top style. Onassis' failing business at Lucky Plaza and mounting debts drive him to create a hostage situation that rocks the whole of Singapore. Guess the impossibly high-octane plot speaks for itself. 


Christmas  
25 Dec
1. ‘Singapore Minstrel’ by Ng Xi Jie
Christmas is a time to share joy and spread some cheer, very much like the act of busking, an ancient art form that stems from the love of performing and brightening up the lives of people who watch it. Filmmaker Ng Xi Jie lets us in on the world of busking through the eyes and voice of Singapore's most famous busker Roy Payamal. Like busking, the film is quite a mixed bag of many things - make-believe,  fantasy, realism, social commentary, theatrics and education. So give your time for buskers this Christmas who are working hard to add colour to our streets!

2. 'Gift' by Daniel Yam
This unassuming short film garnered over 8 million views on Viddsee and got re-posted, ripped and reshaped in plenty of other online sites all around the world. It could be Singapore's more viral short film ever. It's a simple short film about a dad's love and his best gift to his son. Soak into the spirit of Christmas with this short film here.


That's all folks! 
Remember: an SG film a day keeps the blues away!

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