Review - 'Destiny' by Grace Chew (Filament 2014)

Out of the seven films I managed to catch as part of Filament 2014, which is an annual showcase of films done by the graduating broadcasting students of Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information (WKWSCI), Nanyang Technological University, Destiny stayed in my mind for a very long time.

A year or two ago, local newspapers started reporting that there is a rise in the number of foreign brides in Singapore. The journalists went around interviewing local men to find out their various reasons why they made such a choice, however, there were not much coverage of the bride’s perspective.

After all, is it not frightening to marry a man and into a country that you may not know much about except hearsay and the news? Destiny is a documentary directed by Grace Chew that tells the other side of the story through interviews with three young Vietnamese girls as well as the matchmaker’s point of view.

The first thing that made this film interesting was the choice to film the entire documentary in Vietnam itself and keeping the native language for their interviews. It really immerses the audience into the new environment by keeping the authenticity of the language and just providing English subtitles to aid with the understanding of interviews.

I felt that it brought the lives of the girls to life on screen and throughout the film, the audience will be able to get glimpses of where and how they live. It encourages the audience to really step into their shoes, understand the circumstances they are put in and empathise with their decision to marry a Singaporean even though they are as young as 18.

Besides emphasizing the similarities in their family background and their common decision to marry out to change their fate and improve their family’s financial situation, the film also managed to tap onto the differences and go relatively in depth into each individual story which made the film engaging and watchable.

Lastly, there are even tidbits of information you get such as preferences from locals in terms of age, appearance and so on through the various questions the interviewees managed to answer. The film definitely left me with food for thought and I learnt new knowledge about this particular topic that I do not encounter in my daily life but should be talked about. If you would like to find out more about their film making process in Vietnam or the film itself, do check out to keep up with the team!

Review by Dawn Teo

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