Interim Results: Your Favourite Singapore Film of All Time Is...

A month ago, SINdie launched a nationwide survey on everyone’s favourite Singapore film. We spammed inboxes and bcc-ed the entire country. For some of our members, it was their first time discovering what bcc was (!), but that is another traumatic story, for another traumatic day…

Along the way, we heard what many of you had to say. There were some surprising choices (Liang Po Po the Movie??!!), but also many heartwarming ones, and it was good to know that old classics like The Teenage Textbook Movie still held a special place in someone’s heart. When it comes to Singapore films, it seems, underdogs held their own as much as box office hits.

Some decried the omission of short films in this survey, but we wanted it to be focused on Singapore feature films. If we included short films in the list, we could be scrolling for days... Others voiced their concern that they haven't watched Ilo Ilo (2013) and even withheld their votes in protest. As such, SINdie is EXTENDING the deadline for this survey! Haven't cast your vote? Do so soon! 

While you stay tuned for the final results, SINdie is pleased to announce the INTERIM RESULTS of the Nationwide Survey.


Singapore, you had your say (for now).

(puts on best Yam Ah Mee impersonation voice)
Pursuant to Sections 1-5 of the SINdie Survey,

Your Favourite Singapore Film of All Time is:

Army Daze by Ong Keng Sen
(in the lead with 15.31% of the votes)

 It is followed by

Eating Air by Kelvin Tong / Jasmine Ng
  (second with 12.24% of the votes)

And thirdly,

Singapore Dreaming by Colin Goh & Wu Yen Yen
(with 9.18% of the votes)


As a gesture of our gratitude for your participation in this survey, we have included some of your comments on your favourite films below, in the hopes that we can encourage more of you to explore other lesser-known Singapore films (such as Lucky 7 and The Blue Mansion), and aside to the fellow who proclaimed that Ah Boys to Men: Part One is the only Singapore movie he has seen, please go watch some more Singapore films!

Army Daze, 1996, Ong Keng Sen

I don't watch many local films to begin with, but out of the few that I did watch, Army Daze remains my favourite, and will always remain the defining film about National Service for me. Why I love it - its a film about the different ethnicities and cultures in Singapore, it has such great dialogue and it explores the theme of National Service in an unpretentious, humourous way.

—25 to 34, Female, Singaporean

Hi. I picked Army Daze maybe it is due to the nostalgia associated to me at that time. I was in Primary School, and to see a local movie in the big screens was an "awe" to me. I did catch teenage textbook few years later, and forever fever before Daze but there was something about showing a multi racial context rather than a subculture, such as royston's Tan "15", that connected with me. By all means in that list, there are easily 10 films whose cinematography and storyline far exceeds one of Daze, but maybe it's just me. cheers n respect to all local filmakers!

—25 to 34, Male, Singaporean

Nothing says multi-racial society than the National Service. And adapted from Michael Chang's awesome Army Daze play. A brilliant comedy that is unrivalled.

—25 to 34, Male, Singaporean

it was super funny and lots of Singlish

—25 to 34, Female, Singaporean

Eating Air, 1999, Kelvin Tong / Jasmine Ng

Simple. Honest. Striking.

—35 to 44, Female, Singapore Permanent Resident

Doesn't have to be the most artistic, powerful, or highest production value film. It is memorable and I loved it even till now.

—25 to 34, Male, Singaporean

Because it was a very real story shot very nicely without being too arthouse! And not trying too hard!

—35 to 44, Male, Singapore Permanent Resident

kungfu motorcycle love story chronicling the pains of growing up in singapore, this movie is reminiscent of an adolescence wasted on trying to find meaning while stuck in a miasma with nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. what's not to like?

—25 to 34, Male, Singaporean

looked like they had fun

—25 to 34, Male, Singaporean

Colloquial but universal.

—35 to 44, Male, Singaporean

Be With Me, 2005, Eric Khoo

This was a tough choice cos there were a number of great films listed. But I chose "Be with me" because it was beautifully shot and dealt with human emotions through three compelling stories.
—25 to 34, Female, Singaporean

The Teenage Textbook Movie, 1998, Philip Lim 

It's a great example of a good adaptation. The dialogue is still funny and relevant!
—25 to 34, Female, Singaporean

881, 2007, Royston Tan 

An ambitious movie musical with a rollicking Hokkien soundtrack, strong portrayals and lavish cinematography that hits both high-brow and commercial notes. Plus, killer theme song "One Person One Half".
—45 to 54, Female, Singaporean

The music is awesome, and the costumes outlandishly lovely. :)

—25 to 34, Female, Singaporean

12 Lotus, 2008, Royston Tan

No political influences and propaganda, a reflection of what Singapore culture is through the eyes of a sensitive film maker.
—25 to 34, Male, Singaporean

15, 2003, Roystan Tan


I guess it was the subject topic and the fact that it showcased the darker side of our country - one that is unexpected to outsiders and most Singaporeans. I also liked the sports/football-themed movies because it's a topic close to my heart. But since I could only choose 1, I opt to click 15. 
—25 to 34, Female, Singaporean

Captures the disaffection of our youths in the gaudiest, most exhilarating way possible.

—25 to 34, Male, Singaporean

4:30, 2005, Royston Tan

How many movies can tell a story with so little dialogue without seeming contrived or tedious? 4:30 is so beautifully written and executed, and reading interviews with Royston Tan about how he coaxed such nuanced acting from his actors only adds to my appreciation for this fantastic work.
—18 to 24, Female, Singaporean

The Tree, 2001, Daisy Chan

Great acting.
—25 to 34, Female, Singaporean

Bugis Street, 1996, Yon Fan

A rare film that captured a colorful past, ahead of it's time!
—55 to 64, Male, Singaporean

Homecoming, 2011, Lee Thean Jean

It's funny yet heartwarming, and relevant to Singaporeans and Malaysians.
—45 to 54, Male, Singapore Permanent Resident

Ah Boys to Men – Part 1, 2013, Jack Neo

sadly that's the only Singaporean movie I have seen 
—25 to 34, Male, Singaporean

Though many may dismiss it as a sell-out film rife with product placement, the film paves the way for many things in Singapore film: military themes, war scenes, as well as transcending boundaries of age, race and creed. ABTM appeals to a wide Singaporean audience (admitted at the cost of potentially alienating an international crowd), and well, commercial success for a local film is always good.
—25 to 34, Male, Singaporean

Ah Boys to Men – Part 2, 2013, Jack Neo


This movie remind me of my NS time when all of us suffer together, work together and sleep together. It just like refreshing your memories of the past during your NS time, and also Jack Neo is my idol so I will support his movie all the way. 
—25 to 34, Male, Singaporean

Salawati, 2008, Salawati


Perhaps the only Singapore made Malay feature film (fiction) theatrical released between 1991 to 2013.
—45 to 54, Male, Singaporean

Salawati is the best. My friend Jeremy Sing agrees.

—25 to 34, Male, Singaporean

12 Storeys, 1997, Eric Khoo


One of the first few made-in-Singapore films directed by a Singaporean director addressing issues faced by Singaporean in a very local setting. I think Eric Khoo's films set a trigger in encouraging local film makers to make films about Singapore and Singaporeans for the international audience.
—25 to 34, Female, Singaporean

It is filled with sexual and political innuendoes.

—25 to 34, Male, Singaporean

Truthful, raw, direct film about the particular anguish of being Singaporean, in spite of its apparent artifice. Head and shoulders above everything else.

—25 to 34, Male, Singaporean

Singapore Dreaming, 2006, Colin Goh & Wu Yen Yen


A film that is not pretentious, exploitative, preachy, overly dramatic or over intellectualized. An honest story that can strike a chord with the masses. Simple, accessible but yet intelligent.
—25 to 34, Male, Singaporean

I must say that I enter this survey armed with only little knowledge of local cinema. I've watched possibly 15-20 films you've put up for selection here. That said, Singapore Dreaming is one of them and I feel is (relatively) rather well shot: cinematography is pleasant and successfully evokes the melancholic, rueful tone adequately supporting its narrative. Narrative itself is slightly dreary, the slice-of-life genre being over-milked by many a local director, but I suppose it's the first of its kind to specifically tackle the issues it addresses. I wish you put out this survey at a later time - I'd love to be able to actually watch Ilo Ilo and offer a take on it, it might turn out to be a favourite!
—18 to 24, Female, Singaporean

Intelligent, heartfelt and perceptive, without pandering to its audience.

—25 to 34, Male, United States citizen

Liang Po Po: The Movie, 1999, Teng Bee Leng

It is simple yet captures the essence of how lovable the elderly can be. And it does not only just appeal to one generation but all. It helps me connect with the rest of my family and see the funny sides to everyday scenarios.
—18 to 24, Female, Singaporean

The Leap Years, 2008, Jean Yeo

It was so aesthetically appealing and the subtle hints of Singaporean culture within the plot and set really did it for me. I loved the plot, and it could have come off cheesy so easily but the direction was done really well.
—4 to 17, Female, Singaporean

The Blue Mansion, 2009, Glen Goei

The Blue Mansion was entitled "The Funeral Party" during production period. As the working title mentioned, the whole movie was about a big party going on during someone's funeral. In one particular scene where a few Taoist monks appeared after a pastor closed his Bible then one of the deceased family members mentioned they should had called upon an Imam as well made me wonder how on earth one family doesn't know the religion belief of another family member. To me, funeral is part and parcel of life and this movie carried a lot of implicit meaning and thoughts for audiences to think about. 
—25 to 34, Female, Malaysian

Good storyline, art direction, cinematography and acting. I watched it without knowing who is Glen Goei and didn't believe that The Blue Mansion is a local film until I researched about it after watching the film.
—18 to 24, Female, Singaporean

I Not Stupid, 2002, Jack Neo

It made me cry throughout the whole movie. I watched it when I was 15 and I could relate to the pains of the students.
—18 to 24, Female, Singaporean

White Days, 2009, Looi Wan Ping

Funny, intelligent and real.
—25 to 34, Male, Singaporean

White Days is an interesting piece of work. With just 3 people talking about,er,just everything under the sun,this proves that filmmaking need not be big-budgeted, just a good idea and the film will just work itself out. Thus, it is one of my favourites. Others (Not in order): God or Dog /15 / Sandcastle
—35 to 44, Male, Singaporean

18 Grams of Love, 2008, Han Yew Kwang

It was quirky and well developed. Such an enjoyable piece!
—18 to 24, Female, Singaporean

Well balanced. Good story that appeals to mainstream and 'arthouse' audience. High production value in terms of finishing (delivery quality of visuals and sound).
—25 to 34, Male, Singaporean

Singapore GaGa, 2005, Tan Pin Pin

Pin Pin's work very presciently anticipated the wave of nostalgia and yearning for things distinctively Singaporean that has swept the nation over the last 4 years or so. Gaga is a great example of that, and is especially memorable because of its focus on the aural, as opposed to the visual - to the landscapes of sound that make up our memories.
—35 to 44, Male, Singaporean

Sandcastle, 2010, Boo Jun Feng

It tackles a topic that I haven't seen covered in other local films - the history of political activism in Singapore. It handles it gracefully, choosing to focus on the narrative of a teenage boy and his search for his father. I like that the experiences of the protagonist are never belittled and are nuanced - he undergoes teenage angst, lust, and confusion, but he isn't painted as a walking stereotype. I love the visuals of the film too, and the 90s setting.
—18 to 24, Female, Singaporean

City Sharks, 2003, Esan Sivalingam

Fun & funny. Can't remember why we watched it, but was worth it.
—35 to 44, Male, Singapore Permanent Resident

Lucky 7, 2008, Sun Koh, Rajagopal, Boo Junfeng, Brian Gothong Tan, Chew Tze Chuan, Ho Tzu Nyen and Tania Sng

Because it was a crazy cool funky experiment bringing together some of the most interesting directors in Singapore!
—25 to 34, Male, Singaporean

It is the most unique and experimental feature length omnibus coming from our little Red Dot. Also the film showcased the most number of SG filmmakers - all 7 of them - each offering a very different take on filmmaking. You can sample a very diverse selection of Singapore filmmaking talents just watching Lucky 7 alone.

—25 to 34, Male, Singaporean

S11, 2006, Joshua Chiang   

In the Singaporean context of things and given the pool of films that we have to date, S11 certainly comes across as a highly original film with its unique characters and dialogues. It's possible that you'll never see a local film like this again. Still, one cannot help but to draw comparisons between it and the Tarantino hit, Pulp Fiction due to the non-linear story-telling that is highly central to the film itself. Sadly, the exposure that this film has garnered is nothing compared to the likes of films directed by Jack Neo and Eric Khoo. Thus, it'll be nowhere near to being placed at the top of the list of favorites in this survey. Nonetheless, it still has my vote.
—25 to 34, Male, Singaporean

(Take a deep breath...)

Imperfect, 2012, Steve Cheng

First and foremost, I've not seen all the films yet and would really love to pick some I haven't seen, such as those I heard and think are really good from the raving reviews and media opinions on them. So that narrows my choices down to a handful. But honestly, Singapore feature films rely on comedy to get the box office numbers and don't really have quality, though ironically it's the public that want the comedic entertainment. That being said, I choose Imperfect being my favourite film because it is the most relatable to me as a teenager and it is distinct from the other feature films. It also has decent cinematography and employs a great use of music to complement the tone. While the "independent" and good feature films (that again, I've not seen) are said to be artistic, Imperfect dramatizes its chain of events very well. It does not dramatize for the sake of comedy, but instead paces the plot well enough for character development too. I hope my opinion on this helps. Thank you.
—18 to 24, Male, Singaporean

In the House of Straw, 2010, Chris Yeo

In the House of Straw was an amazing experience for me because it is THE film that made me aware that the elements of film can be aptly manipulated to your story(or idea or whatever) I guess this is a kinda obvious fact, but I think not many filmmakers out there consciously make the effort to create their works like that. So for a long time I just thought it was a theoretical kind of thing, but then In the House of Straw popped up. Hah. Its been awhile since I've last watched it, so I might be writing some inaccurate recount of the film, but I'll do my best to describe how this special film made me feel! (It's rated 21, so I can't get my hands on the DVD even though I really wanted to watch it a second time) At first, I found many things unappealing about it , strange plot, "bad acting," etc. (I'm glad I was polite enough to not walk out) but once I got to the last shot, a freeze frame of the main character's sister, staring right at us, (alike the ending in 400 blows) it felt as if she was telling the audience she knew just as much as we did. Then I realized-that is true. Throughout the film, she was the only character who knew much about the "Big bad wolf" and things like building a time machine! Which by the way, I felt was very creepy since technically, I was beginning to watch the film backwards in my head. Then, "watching" it this way, the film suddenly began to make sense to me, because I realized so much about it afterwards. I remember thinking wow! How could it affect me for days when I didn't even like it when I was watching it?! I probably can't go through everything (because of my poor memory and inability to express myself properly when the film is so intelligent) hahaha, just go out of your way to find a copy and watch it'd understand. Actually, I've not even watched half of the films listed, but I kinda know this one is my favourite. :)
—18 to 24, Female, Singaporean

(And finally...)
My Magic, 2008, Eric Khoo

damn touching.
—18 to 24, Female, Singaporean


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