STOP10: 10 local films to catch in June 2017




For people who are offended by rainbow-anythings, please move your eyes away from this page. June is a month we celebrate diversity, as if recent happenings in Singapore and the world have not given you a clue to why diversity is the buzz word this month. The big debate has finally surfaced in Singapore about racial stereotyping in films. Before this, perhaps we all thought it was just a Hollywood thing, with the ‘extra-white’ 2016 Oscars and Asian actors still playing geeks, martial-arts fighters or something exotic. At the core, it is a difficult question to answer. Are directors obliged to make racially-balanced films? Army Daze was very CMIO. Yet if you watch carefully, Krishna does several exaggerated Bollywood dancing sequences with Lathi! It's hard to say if a certain Chinese-speaking cross-dressing director is more racist than another. But the incident does raise some good food for thought about majority privilege. A little debate can’t hurt society right?

The rainbow emerged as an accidental theme for STOP10 this month. By accident, we have put together a line-up films that look at identity, mixed-identities and accepting identities. Banting, now available on iTunes, deals with a hijab girl with a manly hobby. The Missing Words deal with inter-racial, inter-religious BGR. The Manifest deals with a local Indian who cannot tahan his mixed-blooded, half Ang-Moh, half-Malay ‘new citizen’ colleague on board the same spaceship. Finally, a group of kids and teens are showcasing 3 short films they made, that take a brave hard look at difficult issues like xenophobia, mental illness and cyber bullying. It’s jaw-dropping how articulate they kids are in translating these issues on film!

Not to forget, Ramadan Mubarak to all our Muslim friends! This Hari Raya, no need to look to our neighbours for a sob-worthy, heart-warming film in the form of the Petrones ad. Bebas is the answer.
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Army Daze

Available on Catchplay.com and iTunes





‘Recruit! My grandmother can do better than you!’ The corporal screams at the army recruit struggling with his push ups.

‘Then you ask your grandmother to do la!’ retorts another recruit.

The origin of this famous retort is the movie Army Daze, Singapore’s original BMT movie, way before Ah Boys to Men. Army Daze is a landmark movie in Singapore’s relatively young film history. It marked the return of locally-made cinema after the 80s drought. It is the cradle of a dozen catchphrases and it created local stereotypes from the Ah Beng to the Ah Kua. It is so over-the-top, it makes for delicious impersonation, like the effeminate Kenny Pereira, the ‘no-pager-can-die’ Ah Beng, and Bollywood antics of Krishna and Lathi. Never mind the poor production values (a boom mike can be seen in shot at least three times) or the datedness of the film (they are still wearing camouflage version 2), the comedy in the film are timeless and worth a good laugh, at only $3.50 for single rental!

For those who don’t know, Army Daze the movie is about 20 years old, but Army Daze the play is 30 years old this year. Michael Chiang, the writer, has decided to resurrect the characters and give them a second lease of life in Army Daze 2, which will be staged from 4 to 20 August at the Drama Centre.

Read more about the film and how you can watch it here.

Banting

Available on Singapore iTunes



Director Raihan Halim is out to prove that women in hijab are not all that docile and conservative as they seem to be. Some of them listen to punk music and some of them do professional wrestling, like Yasmin, a 'Hijab girl' the protagonist in Banting, who is secretly pursuing her passion of professional wrestling, and keeping her mother in the dark about it. This is a funny, heart-warming film that screams girl power twice over for tackling both gender and religious taboos. Released in cinemas in 2014, it was also the first Malay commercial movie to appear on the big screen since 1975!


Banting actually joins a list of Singapore films that have been made available on iTunes this month. Distributed by film aggregator A Little Seed, you can now watch some of the best of critically-acclaimed Singapore cinema like Ilo Ilo, Mee Pok Man, 7 Letters, Unlucky Plaza from ITunes.

Read more about the film and how you can watch it here.



The Missing Words

Viddsee, Singapore Film Channel



Liang Xuan, a student from China, who recently became a new citizen in Singapore needs to hide a secret from his visiting mum, who brought him here to study. He became more naturalised than she wanted him to be. He’s dating a local Malay girl and his mum is Christian. Everything described here is a true story, except that the director, Liang Xuan himself, has made it into narrative fiction, casting himself as himself, his wife Yana as herself, his mum as his mum. Is there a genre for this? Do we call this Para-realism?

A highly thoughtful film about a personal dilemmas and identities, this film goes all the way to explore the issues, background and the little influences that made Liang Xuan who he is today, including a stop-motion animation homage to animation film The Story of Afanti, popular in China in the 70s and 80s. Certainly not your run-off-the-mill short film.

Read more about the film and how you can watch it here.



The Art of Singapore

Viddsee, Singapore Shorts




Mr Ang Hao Sai is allegedly the last painter of movie posters in Singapore, the giant garish-coloured ones that used to front cinema facades. He started his career as an apprentice in 1963 and used to paint about 5 to 6 pieces a day. While he has retired, he never loses grip of his brushes. In 2015, to celebrate SG50, he painted a series of close to 50 works depicting his observation of the coming-of-age of Singapore, in his signature cinema poster style. Talk about devotion. The film The Art of Singapore, a project by ‘Unsung Heroes’, digs into his life and dedication as a painter over the years. Juxtaposed with rare film footages of Singapore in the 70s, in which families were still living in the shophouses at Boat Quay, the film is a visually immersive experience and an ode to Singapore in sepia tones.

Read more about the film and how you can watch it here.


The Manifest (The ‘Together Apart’ Anthology)
Gov.Singapore YouTube Channel



The year is 2185 and Commander Khalil is on a space mission on board RS3 Interstellar. We know what you are thinking. Space mission film, seriously? On a shoestring budget? But The Manifest, Sanif Olek’s contribution to Project Lapis Sagu’s Togther Apart Anthology, is a tastefully, thoughtfully made science fiction short film, rooted in a familiar locals-versus-foreign  talent conflict narrative and peppered with Singaporean mores from the food, to the lingo to not being able to litter countless miles away from Singapore in outer space.


The film centres around thorny relations between Khalil, a new citizen with half-German, half-Malay blood, and Morgan who is a locally-bred Singaporean Indian. Morgan has a grudge against why Khalil was chosen for the mission over his other colleagues who were born and bred in Singapore. Khalil, being flamed for being a foreign talent, questions why he is serving on this mission.

Certainly a film that ignites several trains of thought. Including how packed Nasi Lemak lunchboxes in outer space would taste like.

Read more about the film and how you can watch it here.



BREAK

Ray Pang Vimeo Channel



How much can betrayal break you? Howard, a once-successful lawyer could not deal with his wife’s extra-marital affair and turns to sex, drugs and violence. Singaporean filmmaker Ray Pang likes the thrill of digging into the darkest recesses of our minds and this thesis short film of his, made during his Bachelor in Film and Television studies in Australia, brings us to a highly visceral and sexual edge. In Ray’s aspirations, it’s like Paris Texas meets Eternal Sunshine of the spotless mind.


This film, made in 2011, went on to win a Gold Remi Award at the 44th WorldFest-Houston Film Festival, the prestigious Orson Welles Award at California Film Awards and the Award of Excellence from Los Angeles Movie Awards.

Read more about the film and how you can watch it here.



Dolls Fall

HOP Short Films by SG Creations ETC

10 Jun, Sat, 1-5pm, SCAPE Gallery (Level 5)


Have you ever made a short film that you're not even allowed to watch? 15-year-olds Nirvan Emilio and Roisin Lee have just done so. They co-wrote and directed Dolls Fall, an NC16 short film that maturely explores various types of prejudice in today's society (co-directed with Jezreel Jean Lee). The film and two others, Containment (on mental illness and suicide) and Never Perfect (on body image and cyberbullying), were created as part of the Hot Off the Press (HOP) film project led by Singapore Creations ETC, a non-profit organisation that provides young people (of ages 6-20 years) with a free creative platform to express their concerns, challenges, hopes and fears. Dolls Fall is the most outwardly ambitious film in the HOP trifecta, since the film itself tackles three different forms of discrimination in one fell swoop. The fruits of the HOP project are real a testament to the uncanny maturity of our youths. Make a trip to SCAPE this 10th June!


Read more about the film and how you can watch it here.



Outsiders

17 Jun, Sat, 7pm, SCAPE Gallery (Level 5)



Long before Lang Tong, Singapore’s first erotic thriller to hit our cinemas, director Sam Loh had something of a false start with another thriller. Made in 2004, this film, Sam’s first feature film was about two detectives who were tracking down a necrophiliac serial killer. After being censored in three places, it was withdrawn from the 2004 Singapore International Film Festival and never saw the light of day again.


That film is Outsiders. This June, the film makes a proper comeback at SCAPE Gallery, with Sam Loh in attendance to dish out stories on the making of the film and of course, fighting censorship.
  
Read more about the film and how you can watch it here.


Bebas

Date of release before Hari Raya Puasa (to be confirmed), stay tuned to SINdie


Here is Singapore’s answer to the festive but sob-worthy Petronas ads from Malaysia. Shot towards the end of May and currently in post-production, Bebas is a short film about a drug abuser who got released from prison on the eve of Hari Raya, giving him a chance to appreciate the small things about the festive season he missed when was in jail. However, the one thing he has lost and cannot make up for is his mother, who passed away when he was in prison. Shaiful Reezal, the director and a seasoned TV DOP, shares with SINdie why he decided make a Hari Raya film to a Minor tune.

Read more about the film and how you can watch it here.


Freeze

28 Jun, Wed, 8pm, SCAPE Gallery (Level 5)

 

Some people say love can be a fixture, like they need to be in love, doesn’t matter who, as long as there is something to love and who loves you. Hui is an insecure lady who does not get much love from her husband who is always on overseas business trips. Who has a higher chance of infidelity? The husband or the wife? Going by the drift of the film, this is a tough question. Director Nelicia Low takes us on such a intimate trip to gaze at a tortured soul torn between so much emotional contradiction and moral dilemma. Did I mention she is living with an autistic brother that she needs to take care as well?

This film has travelled half the world to numerous film festivals including the Busan International Short Film Festival, Clemont Ferrand International Short Film Festival, Taipei Golden Horse Awards and the Singapore International Film Festival last year. The film returns this June under the SGIFF New Waves Programme where director, and former fencer, Nelicia Low, discusses her craft in her film and how she represents truth.

Read more about the film and how you can watch it here.


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