3rd Singapore Indie Doc Fest - 'Downstairs' by Diya Tan

Women In Shorts under International Women's Day Programme
2008/18 mins/Singapore/PG
Director: Diya Tan

“Downstairs” – to those of us living in HDB blocks, it is a term that refers to the areas below our public housing blocks. We played ball, held wedding ceremonies, funerals, play chess, bird watching and even has a small stall that sells snacks and even household items at our convenience. It is definitely one of the countries’ most prominent identities (and my favorite free hangout).

Unfolding over a twenty-four hour period, this documentary showcases what a typical day would be and what usually happens downstairs. From newspaper distribution to men on bicycles, to having cleaners cleaning our blocks, the slightly deaf shoe repairman with his wife and even the children who played ball that doesn’t like old people. It intermingles with the characters as well making it even more personal. It briefly tells us how a common place becomes ‘home’ to everyone in his or her own way.

Diya managed to make this a lively and colorful documentary. For our friends overseas this would make them understand a little more about our housing estates but only to a certain extent (on the surface I must say). As for us locals, it helps us relate and understand the relationship we all have in common with the areas below our housing blocks. Although I am not quite fond of the planned shots (it looked contrived at some point) but it fits in this documentary with all the editing. But maybe if I did not focus too much on it, this documentary certainly worked in introducing us to the life ‘downstairs’.

- Elfe
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