Cine65 Showcase - 10 picks from the Student Category

ciNE65, one of the earliest short film competitions in Singapore is in its third season this year. Organised by Nexus (, this short film competition has spawned some very ingenious works over the years. This year's theme is 'Believing.Home' (Believe In Home?) and it invites filmmakers out there to offer their view of what Home is and what makes them feel at home. This year's competition attracted more than 230 entries in both the 'Student' and 'Open' categories. We combed through many of them and came up with our Top 10.

Here is our top 10 in the Student Category in reverse order:

Student category:

10. The Cobbler, directed by Lim Jun Kai
Synopsis: The Cobbler follows the teaching of 'Nothing in this world is free' and 'You reap what you sow' through the explanation of a teenager's grandfather.
We like how unabashedly confident the filmmakers are about getting us the audience to suspend our disbelief. The 'look it's so fake' grandpa-makeover, the sporting of denim shorts by women in the 60s and the oh, grandpa's smooth tender complexion are glaring and yet effective. Otherwise, this film is pensive and thoughtful, with a touch of nostalgia on the virtues of hard work and perseverance exemplified in the older generation. A little naggy but it gets the message across neatly.

9. Meaning of Home, directed by Nataling Yap Suer Ting
Synopsis: A heartwarming film about an old couple, who do not have offspring, yet build a strong relationship with their neighbours of different races and religions. They believe that family, in Singapore, can be defined not just by blood ties, but moments between close persons as well.
Sweet in its initial romantic touches, this film has an understated display of human affection and relations. What's more remarkable about the film is the way it challenges the idea of a family, or rather the typical prototype of a family. It did get a little confusing in the middle when you wondered if this was Singapore's version of Angeline Jolie and Brad Pitt, being the adopting champions there are. But of course, it's just the director's way of saying how family extends beyond the biological boundaries. The film's portrayal of the interracial neighbourhood did seem slightly staged, but its message overrules everything else.

8. HERO, directed by Seri Munirah bte Rahmat
Synopsis: A short film that focuses on Singapore's defence that stays as strong, from one generation to another. Joshua recounts his childhood days and his motivation to become a policeman to serve and protect the country.

While slightly predictable in its setup and development, this film is a good reminder of the finer qualities of loyalty to our country, and the deep bond between fathers and sons. On another note, don't you love how these student films can do skittish play acting and make-up and still get away with it? The powdered hair, the pencilled-in wrinkles, and the kids who look too young to be fathers and grandmothers! It's kind of endearing.

7. Worthy, directed by Dawn Lim Yun Hui
Synopsis: A story of a mother giving up her dreams to make her son happy.
This is a story that looks at how a family relates to one another and learns that love in a family means sacrificing your interests for that of a loved one. There is something about the earnest face of the lady who plays the mother that seems to anchor the film. With the exception of the final resolution that seems clumsily executed (and this is probably directorial), she gives you that lump in the throat everytime you see her. The film's unpolished in several ways but it's got a clear sincere voice.

6. Treasure, directed by Yap Jia Wei
Synopsis: Treasure is the story of how perseverance and hope can build a nation. De Ming comes home from school in a bad mood. He tells his father he is doing badly in school. Feeling demoralised and dejected, his father thinks of a way to cheer his son up and motivate him. His father takes De Ming to Chinatown to find treasure. De Ming wants to give up, but his father continues to encourage him.

Narrative cliches and more pages from the moral education textbook. The film has a good message but lacked a personal touch as the message seemed too broad. But what lifts the film up from being mediocre is the endearing child actor, who scores with his presence and those eyes!

5. Dedication, directed by Jonathan Tan
Synopsis: Reminiscing about his late father, a young man delves into what it means to be dedicated to one's home.
Vintage always adds sparkle to he screen and this film captured it well in a several immaculately framed shots of old photos which were meant to tell the story. The narration in this film was extremely engaging. Though conventional, it told the story well, and even encompassed the structure of a traditional story arc.

4. Home brewed, directed by Nivash Joyvin Xavier
Synopsis: The journey of two close friends as they grow up during Singapore's early years. Contrasting ambitions and goals pull them apart when adulthood kicks in but fate eventually brings them back together through a coffee reunion.
Home brewed ranks 4th for its depiction of the simple affections in friendship and keen understanding between 2 good friends. It is a simple tale, but highly effective in its grasp of the way people relate to one another despite the distance of geography and time. Not to mention decent production values and a TV actor cameo too!

3. Homeground, directed by Grace Swee
Synopsis: Andrew is going through a typical bad day, but an incident helps him realise a quiet truth.
This film about a frustrated office worker is a sobering reflection of the easy discontented attitude we can fall into in our daily lives when we do not keep ourselves in check. What this film succeeds in is very singular about its message, almost like a TVC, but with a bit more heart.

2. Sightless, directed by Timothy Lim Bao Qiang
Synopsis: A father teaches his son a valuable lesson to trust and appreciate his people and his surroundings.
This film is sweet in its renderings of the special moments shared between father and son, tracing the son's growth from a little boy to that of a young adult. The story forms a nice trajectory, that leads to a small surprise at the end. The surprise does make the film more meaningful and the father's love, deeper.

1. Blk 401, directed by Stanley Xu Ruiyang
Synopsis: A young man finds the feeling of home in the coffee shop he used to visit, and he reminisces fragments of his childhood and adolescence there.
Despite being predominantly a reflective piece, this film does have many layers. It is a meditative piece on culture, neighbourhood, memory and personal narrative. It's not difficult to discern why this film has very high viewership-- it is easy to relate to in its topic and observations of human relationships and events. And those aspirins, they go really well with fish ball noodles!

Written by Bella Ow

We continue with the 'Open' category Top 10 here.
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