STOP10: 10 local films to catch in February 2017
The collage visual we created for our landing page banner is an ode to Kelvin Tong and Jasmine Ng’s seminal film in the late 90s, Eating Air. We tried to create it in the manga-comic style of Eating Air’s film poster.
If there is a film among February’s STOP10 list that encapsulates the spirit of most of the films selected, it would be Eating Air, which will screen at the National Museum on 11 February. When it was first released, it pushed the boundaries of stylistics and directorial treatment among the early Singapore films. In other words, it was a film that stuck up its middle finger at convention or comfort.
Most of the other nine recommended films, by our choice or by the cosmic alignment of the sun, moon and stars, have as much of an attitude as well. Be prepared to feel uncomfortable with films like 1987: Untracing the Conspiracy, The Return and Flooding in the Time of Drought. But expect to be unknowingly rewarded from the experience. Be tickled and yet baffled by Wong Tai Foong (aka WTF). Be even more amused by Time Tomorrow, Singapore’s 1st telemovie, but be thoroughly entertained. To end off February, be all hot and bothered with Siew Lup (烧腊), an erotic thriller that gives you a stronger aftertaste than char siew.
You ready for STOP10?
Wong Tai Foong
Viddsee, Singapore Shorts
A security guard stumbles upon a certain magical power - he finds himself being able to switch lives with the owners of the lost wallets he’s picked up. He gets to experience life as a maid, a bartender, a young man and an old woman. He gets to break out of his ‘zone of security’, get it? Quirky story aside, this short film really hooks you with its staccato-paced editing, music video style visuals and its never-ending stream of oddball surprises. It’s so weird it actually makes sense on its own terms! Not to mention, there are traces of Amelie, the French film that stars Audrey Tatou, in it. Even the security guard sports the same hair bangs as Amelie. No, wait. Actually he looks more like a male version of iconic artist Yayoi Kusama.
Closer Apart (團圓)
Viddsee, ‘At the Dinner Table’ – a CNY channel
Local comedian Henry Thia is capable of looking serious as well and this is a rare look at Henry Thia in a serious role as a father. In fact, it’s so serious, he actually breaks down in tears and we realise he slips into naturalistic acting quite well too. This short film is about how a father feels alienated by his family members who do not appreciate the things he has done. His wife nags at home and his children seem to trivialise the things he does. So he decides to do something drastic. Don’t try this at home though.
Flooding in the Time of Drought
7,12,13,20,23 Feb, 11am & 3 pm, ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands
The ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands has pulled together a line-up of feature films under its theme ‘Water’, as part of the ArtScience on Screen series. Some of the most exciting director names in Asia are featured, including Palme d’Or winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Woo Ming Jin, Charliebebs Gohetia, Nghiem-Minh Nguyen-Vo, Kamila Andini and Sherman Ong.
Flooding in the Time of Drought by Sherman Ong, was made for the 2008 Biennale and has travelled to several Asian and European film festivals. Perhaps, it can go down in history as the local film with the most number of languages spoken. A total of 10 different languages are spoken including Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Tagalog, Mandarin, German, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Thai, Indonesian, Malay and Hokkien!
11 Feb, Sat, 2pm, Objectifs Chapel Gallery
In 1991, Zoe Tay made waves as Bobo in the riveting Channel 8 drama Pretty Faces. In 1994, Channel 5 released its iconic drama series Masters of the Sea where Margaret Chan displayed her cockroach-crushing powers. Triple Nine was in 1995. VR Man (remember VR Man?) was in 1998. Time Tomorrow was in 1993, and that was Singapore’s first ever telemovie, born at a time when producers thought dubbing Channel 8 dramas in English were a good idea. Apart from a trip down memory lane and a chance to laugh at yesteryear’s fashions, Time Tomorrow stars Ng Chin Han, who has gone on to appear in Hollywood flicks like The Dark Knight and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The telemovie is about man who meets the younger self of his murdered wife from 10 years ago. Good if you are into time-warp, paranormal fare.
11 Feb, Sat, 2pm, National Museum of Singapore Gallery Theatre
This film belongs to the Sg Film Hall of Fame. It burst into the film scene in 1999 with its suave depiction of youth and its raw energy, personified by gangsters shuttling around in roaring motorcycles, literally chasing air! Eating Air, co-directed by Kelvin Tong and Jasmine Ng, is arguably Kelvin Tong’s ground-breaker, just like what Mee Pok Man is to Eric Khoo and 15 to Royston Tan. Even though he’s built an impressive track-record of commercial hits like The Maid and Rule No.1, many people still remember Eating Air fondly for its inimitable style. Oh yes, Michelle Chong doing accents onscreen had its humble beginnings in Eating Air!
This screening is part of a pairing under the National Museum Cinematheque Selects Showcase. It will be screened with Billy Liar. Both directors Kelvin Tong and Jasmine Ng of Eating Air will be present for a discussion on the film.
1987: Untracing the Conspiracy
11 Feb, Sat, 2.30pm, The Projector
This film is not for you if you just want to smell the roses and take your mind on a holiday for the weekend. But sometimes, we experience those mindset-shifting moments in our lives that open up new aspirations and somehow, come back on a Monday finding a sudden burst of energy and purpose. This is one film that could do that. 1987: Úntracing the Conspiracy is documentary film about Operation Spectrum, in which 22 people were arrested under the Singapore Internal Security Act in 1987 and detained without trial. They were subsequently imprisoned for 3 years and then coerced to appear on national television to ‘confess’ in order to close the loop of the operation.
This film is not just about revisiting an uncomfortable past. Like all good documentary films, it poses questions to us about our understanding of history and the social systems around us. As Singaporeans, we owe it to ourselves to generate more healthy debate about issues. So for those who are interested, watching this film will be a potentially rewarding experience. After all, the film won Best Southeast Asian Feature at Freedom Film Festival 2015. There is a post-screening Q&A that features director Jason Soo and some of the detainees.
Early Morning Awakening
11 Feb, Sat, 4pm, Objectifs Chapel Gallery
Golden Horse winner Yeo Yann Yann’s first English speaking role on TV was Mayling in Early Morning Awakening, a 2005 telemovie about mental illness, directed by Gozde Zehnder and Russell Zehnder. Mayling has lost her father and has limited contact with the outside world while Mark is an over-achiever who breaks down under pressure during National Service. Mayling and Mark find a common bond with each other and begin to create a world between them. This film was first shown under the Stage to Screen series for the then Arts Central channel (now known as Okto) and is adapted from one of Singapore’s landmark theatre pieces, Off Centre, written by Haresh Sharma.
11 Feb, Sat, 7.30pm, The Projector
When you see former TV actor Wang Yu Qing (王昱清) of the小飞鱼 (The Flying Fish) fame, playing a grandfather trying to put ‘active ageing’ into action, and you feel something for it, it means you are a Gen-X kid and time is catching up too. But don’t fear, this short film called The Drum, directed by Ler Jiyuan (who directed Channel 5’s ‘Code of Law’) promises to give you a new rhythm to live life to.
The film is about a recently retired man who has to get used to the absence of a work routine. His search for purpose lands him in a Tabla class. The effect is somewhat odd, funny and extremely liberating. The Drum has been selected for the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival in February. The festival can be considered the holy grail for short films and it is one of 73 films selected out of 8,000 entries.
23 Feb, Thu, Filmgarde Bugis+
This film made its world premiere to a full house at the 30th Venice International Film Critics’ Week in September 2015, with many members of the audience staying behind for the Q&A session. Made on a modest budget and totally self-funded, The Return by Green Zeng is an example of a small production made big. The film is a fictional story about a political detainee who returns to society after many years of imprisonment and faces an uneasy reunion with his children and has to grapple with a Singapore transformed beyond anything familiar to him. Past and present collide in his journey to move on. The detainee is played by Chen Tianxiang, a veteran actor who has appeared in TV dramas over 40 years, right from his first drama serial, The Awakening on Channel 8 to the more recent 118. The film first premiered in Singapore at the 26th Singapore International Film Festival and this is its commercial run.
Siew Lup （烧腊）
23 Feb, Thu, cinemas islandwide
There are plenty of good reasons to watch Siew Lup and they don’t just come in pairs. Siew Lup is the sequel to Lang Tong, Sam Loh’s erotic thriller, a landmark film for commercial cinema in Singapore. The last time, it was Bak Kut Teh. This time, it’s Char Siew. A Char Siew seller’s wife is trapped in an abusive marriage and starts an affair with a handsome funeral director (didn't we see some hot funeral directors in the news of late?). Then violence and blood ensues.
Director Sam Loh promises this to be sexier and darker. It will also star 22-year-old Melody Low, a freelance actress-model-YouTube star, who shot to fame, for her, erm, cup size, after she appeared in Ah Boys To Men star Tosh Zhang's hip-hop music video Lingo Lingo in 2015. And yes, there WlLL be nudity, just to be clear.
Read more about the film and how you can watch it here.