6th Singapore Short Film Awards: Thoughts on Best Script

The nominees for Best Script at the 6th Singapore Short Film Awards are The Elephant Cannot Fly, Moving Out Notice, Stranger by Night, The Body and November. 

The Body (picture above)
A young troublemaker seeks help from a man with experience after he kills a prostitute. In the efforts to dispose of her body, the elder cooly imparts advice to the more frenzied murderer on dismembering the corpse. His confident and callous exterior never wanes, though his patience trickles away through the night while the young man grouses and gets increasingly skittish. The drama intensifies when the sound of a vehicle approaches while the two have a dispute beside a deserted forest.

The Elephant Cannot Fly
Tackling a real and heavy subject, The Elephant Cannot Fly is stunningly poignant with its slow-paced opening and unsettling denouement. Mingling the pain of adulthood with the innocence of childhood, the nuances of this short make it for a sincere portrayal of a mother’s palpable sadness as it meets the purity of her son. 

Moving Out Notice
Employing the uncharacteristic premise of communicating through notes, an obstinate mother avoids speaking to her daughter, Wei. As she covers every surface with post-it notes that dictate household chores and scribbles down replies to hold up during arguments, Wei gets increasingly exasperated at her mother’s stubborn unwillingness to talk. The cantankerous duo squabble through daily routines as this dynamic comedy brings to life one of a single parent’s greatest fears — when her only child finally grows up and wishes to leave the nest — and the looming ghosts of her past they dig up.

Stranger by Night
We are all acclimatised to the lone night guard who stations himself, stoic, unmoving and bored in his own small cubby. The loneliness gives way this story, told from the highlight reel of Lim Poh Huat’s monotonous night: a handful of carefully collected memories of his most intriguing interactions with strangers. With playful irony and the curiosity of repeated actions, three strangers, on three occasions throughout the evening, approach a night guard for directions — all to the same location.

Romance gets messy when teenage couple faces a hitch in their relationship. After Kai tests positive for herpes, Min has to deal with both her boyfriend's infidelity and the possibility that she has caught it too. As she waits in the clinic, her despondence is unforced but tangible in this striking and well-paced short, which ends on a note that carries a bittersweet encapsulation of one’s first attempt at love and undertones of the loss of one’s innocence.

Elephant Cannot Fly stands out as the winner because the story is the most compelling in spite of its duration. In dealing with human nature and how individuals react to emotional pain and despondence raised universal questions that everyone would have pondered over at some point of their lives. Whatever the cause of the pain, the short is a testament to how heavy the weight of sadness is and the lengths one would go to to end that pain, and even consider the world far too tainted for someone they love to want to let them undergo those same emotions. It is also a nod to the issue of mental instability which most skitter around and cannot encapsulate with such ease, despite the lack of actions or words spoken - which makes this film even stronger.

Review by Chris Yeo
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