@SGIFF2015: FilmTalk on the Southeast Asian Short Film Nominees

Lucky Kuswandi has become a good friend and a regular face at the Singapore International Film Festival of late. His first feature film 'In the Absence of the Sun' was the closing film of the 25th edition of the Singapore International Film Festival in 2014. He is back this year because his short film 'The Fox Exploits the Tiger's Might' was competing in the SGIFF Southeast Asian Short Film Competition. Eventually, he took home the 'Best Film' award. 

Indeed the festival is slowly finding its role as a stage for compelling talent like Lucky. This year's competition again offers audiences a window to the latest crop of talents from Southeast Asia. While countries like the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia have thrust the region into international limelight with numerous acclaimed works, entries from emerging (or rather re-emerging) countries Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar are also starting to enrich the Southeast Asian film tapestry, as the competition has shown. 

A mixed platter of work like the entries in the Southeast Asian Short Film Competition necessitates discourse. So, three of SINdie's writers, Jeremy Sing, Ivan Choong and Clarabelle Gerard, got together to compare notes and dissect some of the films in this year's competition.

Read about the 20 entries in this year's competition here:
Southeast Asian Short Film Competition Programme 1
Southeast Asian Short Film Competition Programme 2
Southeast Asian Short Film Competition Programme 3
Southeast Asian Short Film Competition Programme 4


Jeremy: The selection in this year’s SGIFF Asian Shorts is both diverse and yet similar in some ways, in my opinion. Sometimes, in between the lakes, the alleys, the ubiquitous sarongs, even some of the languages, the boundaries slip your notice. You forget which country you are in - which says a lot about the region we live in. (pause) What were some of your favourites in this selection?
Thread by Virginia Kennedy

Ivan: Hmmm.. The favourite that sticks in my mind even after a few days is Thread’’ by Virginia Kennedy. I found it unexpected and riveting. It brought back memories of old folk tales about how each person’s life is actually represented by threads in a room tended to by an old woman (I cannot quite remember if she is blind in the original folk tale) but certainly a person’s life is deemed to end when the old woman cuts your thread. I thought that the story was particularly strong, and performances of actors were subtle but effective.

Jeremy: Yes, the premise was bizarre. You are not sure if it was supernatural or some realist gaze at Asian superstitions at first, especially with that voice, because you are not sure if it’s her inner voice or some real outer force itself! I cringed when she stuck that needle into her leg!

Clarabelle: I didn't understand that film although I found it to be intriguing and largely open for interpretation.  

Jeremy: What cut it for you in that film Ivan (pardon the pun)?

Ivan: The unexpected combination of old familiar tales used effectively to tell a very modern story. It was like the seamstress had all these abilities but a person can only trade something (i.e. a cut of thread which to me signified giving up their original length of life) to sacrifice, to obtain something in return. Additionally, the way the film is structured, she is initially positioned as the weakest character – which in itself is a paradox – as a blind seamstress would require keen eyesight to feel and measure.

Jeremy: I do agree the script was quite well conceived, with its build up and sequence of revelations. Clarabelle, what was your favourite film?

Clarabelle: Although I appreciated the different ways in which each film was delivered, I had two favourites particularly- Ferris Wheel by by Phuttiphong Aroonpheng  and My Father After Dinner by Gladys Ng .

Jeremy: ‘Ferris Wheel’ is one of my favourites too. A masterfully orchestrated effort of cast, camera, editing and direction.
Ferris Wheel by Phuttiphong Aroonpheng

Ivan: Yup, I agree Ferris Wheel is good. It is metaphorical and very well thought out as well. I was captivated by how real the characters looked messy and covered with grime, which I find to be a trait that runs through several of the films. It was certainly able to capture very real feelings and emotions – from the fear and suspense of being a refugee to the everyday struggle of living in a country that one does not belong to. It is also a very tough subject for a film to tackle and am glad they did not shy away from doing it.

Jeremy: It's tackled a grim and complex issue in a rather balanced way. At moments, it is a point-blank observation of how cruel the world and fate is. At other times, it is a poetic gaze at life’s ups and downs and the surprises and traps we face as we navigate through uncertainty. (pause) Not sure, how they found their cast but the acting was immensely gripping, don’t you think?

Clarabelle: The acting was great. And the ferris wheel was an amazing metaphor and way to end the story. I was thinking how much tougher their lives were going to get and what could possibly make things sweeter!

Ivan: Now it's my turn to ask the question - I was wondering what the ferris wheel was about.

Clarabelle: Then ferris wheel reminded me of how suffering is always going to be there in life but like the momentary, ephemeral nature of the ferris wheel ride,  we can always give thanks to the tiny little happy moments.  On the larger scale though,  I saw the ferris wheel to be a symbol of our life. Whether we like it or not, we're going to be moving. You can't just suddenly leap out of the ferris wheel. And then we'll meet different people(the changing faces)who come and go in our lives.

Ivan: Interesting - you saw it as them meeting different people while I thought of it as depicting different life stories. That there are many refugees in our midst and that each had his or her own story to tell as well as struggles to face.

Jeremy: The film is very rich in visual imagery and it shows the filmmakers have put a great deal of thought into representing certain complex issues, distilling them into visual statements, or even audio statements, like getting the refugees to sing the Thai national anthem at the beginning. I thought that moment was so iconic in how it layered the political with the situational.

I also find it so telling that across several films, there were subtitles mentioning 'a certain language spoken in a certain accent' e.g. 'Thai spoken with Myanmar accent'. It’s something so minute and easy to be missed in the blink of an eye but I appreciate that the filmmakers have included them in an attempt to explain the socio-political backstories.

Ivan: Yes. The use of subtitles were sometimes rather strange but I guess they were trying to capture the essence of what they were filming for a foreign audience.

Clarabelle: All the languages- I didn't understand. Even for Chinese, I needed the subtitles. But what was interesting was that after watching the films, when I went out today and heard people around me speaking in their mother tongues, I felt like I was in a movie and there was music (the sound around me).

Jeremy: Hahaha. Where did you go? (That you heard so much mother tongue?)

Clarabelle: Just the MRT. All I heard was a young girl speaking on the phone and I already felt like I was in a movie. The incomprehensible language is now like music to my ears. I am more aware of it. Before, it didn't feel like that.

Jeremy: That's true. Watching all these shorts was quite an audio smorgasbord. As a person living in an economically more comfortable part of Southeast Asia, watching many of these shorts at a weep was akin to feeding on ‘developing world porn’. But what’s rewarding is that you are sitting through over hours of National Geographic. You are not just meditating on the relationship between these subjects and yourself in Singapore, but also the relationships and hierarchies between these subjects in their own territories.

Clarabelle: Yes, I think so too.

Jeremy: Why did you like My Father after Dinner Clarabelle?
My Father After Dinner by Gladys Ng

Clarabelle: I liked that film because it is 'normal'. The most parallel to my reality. And because of how ordinary it is, it stands out from all the other films in that list. The film nudges me to reflect more deeply about my life. Life, in being mundane, can be worth thinking about. The scenery...the beautiful sun that rises and can be seen from the view of the HDB flats- reminds me of how I always look to the sun for comfort ever morning. It is something beautiful that will never fail to appear even if everything around me is upsetting. All these simple things were very moving to me.

Ivan: I  can see your point about seeing these treasures / special moments in everyday life but somehow I thought that the actual film didn’t really have an end point. It didn’t seem to really go anywhere.

Clarabelle: Because the film was easy for me to identify with...it moved me.  But there were other films that were really absurd and because of their eccentric nature, they made me reflect about life in its essence too.

Jeremy: I did enjoy the film and the rhythm but it didn't quite stick with me.

Ivan: Same for me! It was almost just a snapshot of a typical day in the life of many Singaporeans.

Jeremy: There was a scene in which the daughter (who has this ‘film crew’ vibe in her) came back late, and then had to scurry off to work the following (carrying 2 cameras with her), that was particularly dejavu! Probably for many people in the film industry. (beat) An example of how the mundane can strike a chord in films! (pause) Speaking of mundane, how did you find 'Our', the Thai film about the newly-wed couple having a conversation at the beach?
Our by Sivaroj Kongsakul

Ivan: It is nice and simple but it didn't make me go wow a day later.

Jeremy: That was like an ode to 'Before Midnight', with its seemingly aimless conversation peppered with incidental stimuli and dream-recollections that tested the boundaries of their newly-sealed journey as husband and wife.

Clarabelle: I like how the sound of the sea was the background to pretty much the whole film.

Jeremy: Yes, I think it was a film sensitive to sound textures and visual details. Another film this short film seems to be a nod to is Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s ‘Blissfully Yours’, which also captures the flies and the fleas, the birds and bees (with a capital B) around the a middle-aged couple’s trip to the mountains.

Ivan: I didn't quite believe them as a couple having just gotten married.

Jeremy: Haha.

Clarabelle: All I wanted to do was perhaps reach into the film and grab some glutinous rice they were eating.

Ivan: yup i agree!! hahaha

Jeremy: Yes (I was wondering what they were eating) then I remembered these little street food takeaways in the Thai shopping centres. Very delectable!

Clarabelle: They were married because they thought of themselves to be right.. Makes me think of what exactly defines marriage. Is it just a formal certificate?

Jeremy: There was a slightly ironic shot of the certificate inserted into the car seat pocket at the end. (pause) ‘Ferris Wheel’ aside, my favourites are ’For Ofelia’ and ‘Three Wheels’.

I think ‘For Ofelia’ is a conventional film well-made. While being competent in many areas while I hate to use the term 'tick the box', it ticked many boxes), I found the acting and direction rather sincere. The director, which staying loyal to his script, does not lose his sense of earthliness about his subjects. There were moments when I thought it was going down the slimy slope into TV-melodrama, but it averted it.
For Ofelia by Christopher de las Alas

Ivan: Yup, I can agree with you Jeremy there on ‘For Ofelia’. It was a well paced, well made film. Between Ferris Wheel and For Ofelia, For Ofelia gave me the impression of having been produced well – clear and clean editing, well paced storyline. Ferris Wheel seems to be in a more raw form – perhaps the subject matter also led to some of that difference.

Jeremy: ‘For Ofelia’ certainly had a more scripted approach and tighter narrative structure than ‘Ferris Wheel’, but it still managed to retain pockets of spontaneity. For instance, the scene in which the uncles gave the boy alcohol baptism was realistically played out.

Clarabelle: Yes. I love how the director exudes subtlety in his presentation of the film. The film was easy to watch but it certainly doesn't mean it was easy to film.

Ivan:  I totally agree Clarabelle!

Jeremy: What did you think of ‘Three Wheels’? The Cambodian film.
Three Wheels by Kavich Neang

Clarabelle: I like how the film was built on the fundamental point of how people were forced to marry across Cambodia during the Khmer rule

Ivan: I thought it was nostalgic actually.

Jeremy: The spotty 60s folk music blaring from the radio certainly made it so!

Ivan:  Yup, it was sad but hopeful at the same time.

Clarabelle: I love the dilapidated visual scene of the home and how he lights a candle, transforming his home with the lights around the tent  and finding his happiness with the little things that he can change because it's not easy to get out of a marriage when you want to anytime.

Ivan: Yup i agree. It shows an insight into a different world. Something that I would probably not have experienced or known about if not for the film.

Jeremy: I do feel this film is particularly well-thought out plot-wise though stylistically not distinctive in its approach. The realist touch, the apparent absence of art-direction and the appropriately-long pauses in dialogue, place this film at an intersection between fiction and documentary. You are sometimes coerced into believing the film was just made with a camera planted in a real couple’s house.

Clarabelle: So much of unease found in the undertone of the film. It's like how many of us have layers of unhappiness, hurt that we bury beneath us. We might look like we're alright at the front but that might not be the case.

Ivan: Yup, I agree it has a number of undertones which almost got lost.

Jeremy: Through the director's sensitive touch, we are let in on the textures of the relationship between the husband and wife, from the awkward photo studio moments to the more tender hair-dyeing moments.

Clarabelle: I thought that one of the actresses in Three wheels was perhaps the same girl who acted in The Scavenger?
The Scavenger by Sothea Chhin

Ivan: Hahaha i didn't notice that at all. Scavenger was actually hard to watch. I am quite impressed at how they managed to film that as the conditions must have been really tough for the entire production – cast, crew etc.

Jeremy: Name me some of the most surprising films in this selection, in terms of content that shocked or subverted your understanding of things.

Clarabelle: The Asylum by Prapat Jiwarangsan. I didn't have a clue what was happening- maybe I was really in an asylum.

The Asylum by Prapat Jiwarangsan

Jeremy: I do admit if I don't read the synopsis, I have no idea what's happening in the film ‘The Asylum’. ‘The Asylum’ has 2 characters whose backgrounds are not clearly explained in the film and they are both seek some comfort in the sanctuary of a pond.

Ivan: hahaha yup there were a number of films like The Asylum which I thought was plain strange. For me, June in Pieces by Edward Khoo just seemed too familiar (Didn't help that I knew some of the actors). Another film that was strange was As I Lay Dying by Nguyen Phuong Anh.

Jeremy: Oh why that Ivan?

Ivan: Both asylum and as I lay dying just seemed almost like film assignments.

Clarabelle: I agree with Ivan on As I lay dying. (That is one of the films that shocked me).
As I Lay Dying by Nguyen Phuong Anh

Jeremy: I thought it was just a very esoteric, ruminating piece. What shocked you?

Ivan: It didn't really shock me so much rather more shocked to have a slightly different experience as I was expecting a more typical film.

Clarabelle: There was so much going on and I was lost. I felt like before a point could be made, the film went onto exploring a different point. Reflection of birds and nature against city lights, then the whale sounds and dead fish swimming everywhere as well as in a bucket. Then there were all the symmetrical images.

Jeremy: Hahaha. I learnt about the whale and its sounds. Though I wondered what special significance it had in the filmmaker’s situation in her own context in her country. (pause) How was Memorial of an Inquiry?
Memorial of an Inquiry Jan Pineda

Ivan:  I didn't quite get the point of it. I thought it referred to a particular back story that I might not be familiar with

Jeremy: I felt there was a lot of visual experimentation that was incidental rather than deliberated. So the filmmaker simply inserted whatever ideas came along into the editing timeline. Making creating this film a journey in itself, even more than the film itself. A journey that is sometimes lost, not in linguistic but visual translation.

Clarabelle: For Memorial of an Inquiry, when it begun, it creeped the crap out of me. Thought it was an Asian horror film at first.

Jeremy: It does, doesn't it? When you give the actress white irises!

Ivan: haha yeah...I totally had to turn the volume down, it was completely freaking me out.

Jeremy: I actually watched this film twice, the second time with the volume down, in fear of the rather creepy soundtrack. And she walks around like a Pontianak!

Clarabelle: There was this point that I remember. Death is brought by uncontrollable rage. Maybe I would understand better if I knew of the socio-political references.

Jeremy: I do admit liking this film a little better on second viewing, appreciating the interplay of visual and audio textures, and picking up some of the socio-political nibbles in the film. (pause) I particularly liked the old footages of Marcos, lending a different thought trajectory to the film.
It makes great looping installation art. (Just don't turn it on at night alone in a house)

Clarabelle: Yes, reminded me of art installation too.

Ivan: Yup, it definitely reminded me of an art installation.

Jeremy: Let's talk about films with animal titles. ‘The Fox exploits the Tiger's Might’ - this film has travelled well and was even screened in Cannes this year.

Clarabelle: ‘Crocodile Creek’ felt like an environmental and cultural documentary.

Ivan: The fox or crocodile?

Jeremy: Ok let's talk about ‘√árocodile’ first.
The Crocodile Creek by Sai Naw Kham

Jeremy: I must say this was one complicated Burmese legend! (pause) There was a prince and  princess love story happening on one plane and this rivalry between a male and female crocodile happening on another plane. And these are such scheming beasts, they can’t just launch a straight-forward fight, they skirt around their human masters, demonstrating judgement and cognizance equal to humans. Which is also telling about how the Burmese people view animals in their society.

Clarabelle: To me, ‘Crocodile Creek’ was about establishing a relationship between the environment and perhaps folk culture. (pause) But here is something I find interesting: I remember present day people visiting the lake like tourists. Then there were the people who guarded the lake and its culture-those who offered chicken liver and duck eggs and then there were the unspoken groups of people who were those who polluted the lake.  The scene felt like it had different scenes of the different groups of people pasted together without a smooth transition and this was almost as if the groups of people didn't understand one another.

Jeremy: Yes, there was certainly a sense of disjointedness there.

Clarabelle: Purposely disjointed perhaps to symbolically show the lack of understanding among the different groups of people and almost like a degrading of the folk tale.

Jeremy: Didn't think of it in that way, but it does make sense!

Ivan: Yeah, definitely a new angle that I did not notice before.

Clarabelle: Like the folk tale is losing its clarity over time.

Jeremy: Present-day people salvaging what's left of the folktale.

Ivan: Talking of the relationship between folktale and people, ‘The Fox Exploits the Tiger’s Might’ is another attempt at establishing this relationship.
The Fox Exploits the Tiger's Might by Lucky Kuswadi

Jeremy: Certainly a more colourful and hyperbolic way. To be honest, I did find the approach in ‘Fox’ a little too heavy-handed and stagey. And watching this film is really an assault on the senses, from the behavioural quirks to the tonal variety of the different characters in the way they speak to the sexual acts. Some bits were plain jolting for me, like the mother being violated.

Ivan: Yes, it felt very raw and violent but yet interesting.

Jeremy: Being an actor yourself, how did you find the acting Ivan?

Ivan: I found that the acting was better in that film than some of the other short films. To me, it had a natural and real feel to it. However, I think some actors might have been overly directed. They seemed to be perhaps placed or instructed to move or perform in a particular way i.e. a little stiff – it might just be due to being young actors.

Clarabelle: Trying to make sense of the story, I believe the fox is supposed to be technically weaker than the tiger in terms of physical strength but maybe mentally stronger in terms of how conniving and sly of a creature it is? The meaning of the title could not be seen through the characters - to me at least.   However, I felt like the director (as a fox- because he is weaker in terms of the absence of his physical presence) was exploiting my mind (I am the tiger because I am stronger physically as I am present in front of the film) by making me feel at unease.

Ivan: Hmm that is an interesting take as I actually had made a note that I did not get the connection of the title to the film. Additionally all the characters looked to be pretty flawed from beginning to end, hence I was trying to work out what was the point of the film, or what it was trying to say.

Clarabelle: Actually, the scenes were not shocking to me. They were...disturbing but highly imaginable!

Ivan: Hmm you are right, perhaps shocking could be a wrong choice of word. Disturbing might be a better fit to describe the film.

Clarabelle: Perhaps the reason why I am not shocked is because it shows how flawed human beings are - how they can be strongly driven by their weaknesses of lust. Perhaps this film is trying to cunningly strike us and make us think about how animalistic we can be at times, exploiting one another without a conscience.

Ivan: Hmmm perhaps...but I still somehow do not really get the arch of the film because nothing really happens to these characters at the end of the film. There are a number of disturbing scenes, some just displaying the animalistic side of human nature, but at the end the characters just remain doing what they always did from the start. I guess I was just looking for a journey for these characters.

Jeremy: Still on sex, I found ‘Junilyn Has’ to be a very nondescript take on the industry of exotic dancers.
Junilyn Has by Carlo Francisco Manatad

Ivan: Yes, it took a while for you to find out that you ae watching a film about exotic dancers. (pause) I get that the film is showing the reality of life behind the scenes of an exotic dancer which is actually quite interesting. But it seemed like an odd film to me, missing something treatment-wise.

Jeremy: In what ways do you find the film odd?

Ivan: Initially, I was drawn in by how the story was structured to unfurl. How the audience slowly learns what the story is about. But at the same time, I felt it went off a little on a tangent at times. I am wondering if perhaps I might have missed a point or two. For example, the main character is suddenly shown to have a conversation with a boy – who is he? And how does his presence affect the storyline?

Ivan: I still feel in this film, the audience was left to fill in too many blanks. I would have liked to get a clearer point of view from the director, and what he is trying to say.

Clarabelle: I was wondering why they chose to have a cast of strikingly contrasting girls. Perhaps, the contrast between the girls shows a realistic growth curve. I feel like most of them (exotic dancers) might be uncomfortably forced into the industry - like the girl who looked so uneasy and was constantly thinking a lot before doing what she was taught. But as times goes on, perhaps they go through the growth curve of becoming completely subsumed into it that they just mindlessly do what they are taught to do without thinking, (pause) and that is represented by the wild girl.

Jeremy: I think it has a lot to do with personal tastes. There were a couple of other entries whose stories were not as precise as their stylistics or thematic representations.

Ivan: ‘June in Pieces’ included?
June in Pieces by Edward Khoo

Jeremy: Ah interesting, what did you think of it?

Ivan: To me, it may be a film that relies a lot on effects - close shots, nostalgic music, black and white. Additionally, it had a clear journey although it did not stand out by having a particularly strong story or perhaps way of telling a story. I was wondering if there was too much focus or concentration on the effects and stylistic elements of the film.

Jeremy: Agree. I actually love the stylistics of the film more than the story. It evokes a certain complex mood that encapsulated a sense of searching, longing, 60s nostalgia and escapism.

Clarabelle: ‘June in Pieces’ didn't stand out for me. How did you find ‘Mui’, the Vietnamese film about the pregnant girl and her friend, the other pregnant girl who disappears, all taking place in a water village.
Mui by Le Bao

Jeremy: I found it very hard to connect with the film and it seemed a bit post-apocalyptic, with the dark waterways and the grey and grimy colour palette. Sometimes, it was like a watching a Vietnamese version of Deepa Mehta's ‘Water’, which shines a light on female outcasts. What did you think of it?

Ivan: The movie did not really stand out for me, I just felt that it was quite frenetic.

Clarabelle: I found several scenes in the film quite harsh like how in the beginning, a man stuck out his foot to touch the girl's pregnant belly when they were on a boat on the sea. The beginning of the film opens with a girl carrying a dead pig on her shoulders and walking indoors. Was wondering what that might signify.

Ivan: I found the film quite surreal in its setting and treatment. It might have worked better if it was set in some local market. I am still trying to self-debate if having a local nuance is good as it shows something very local or bad as it might disconnect some audiences. Maybe what’s in the film is indeed a reality for them?

Clarabelle: It might be a reality for some which might make it easier for them to find a connection to the film. But at the same time, because it isn't a reality for others like us, we might have more question marks in our mind and question marks are good in provoking thought. However, too many question marks just create disinterest. There needs to be healthy degree of balance to keep the viewer engaged.

Ivan: I totally agree with Clarabelle! It is a very fine line to walk. (pause) On themes this year, it is evident many directors have chosen to film what is familiar. Many of the stories are strongly local. Perhaps the familiarity helps with choosing the subject matter of either a local story, folktale or issue. Even in a more generally themed feature like ‘Thread’ - which is not too localised, to me, it relied on knowing a connection to a folktale

Jeremy: Not surprisingly, as filmmakers, I think one of their most important aims is to make a film that is sincere, honest and believable.

Clarabelle: Most definitely. Because there'll be common human values embedded in the familiar local scenes (which we could consider to be unfamiliar) Human traits will always be familiar.  When the director can get those traits across through the film, I feel it is easier to communicate the film to the viewer.

Jeremy: Were there any particular films that you found too local and alienating?

Ivan: I think some of the films like ‘Mui’, ‘Crocodile Creek’, ‘Our’ or ‘Memorial of an Inquiry’. These films seemed like you needed to understand some of the local contexts for them to be fully appreciated, hence not necessarily being able to capture and interest all audiences. I felt a film like Anthony Chen's ‘Ilo Ilo’ did so well, because although it was very local, it was also told in a relatable way to an international audience. One did not need to know the local background to relate to the characters and the story.

Jeremy: Watching all the short films, I felt a sense of cultural disparity between the Singapore films and the other films from Southeast Asia. The Singapore films exhibited a different sensibility and mood from the other Southeast Asian films. I am wondering are we just different worlds economically, or do you think there is a cinematic language that is uniquely Singaporean that makes different from the rest?

Ivan: Hmm, I did not quite get that sense of a different sensibility in the Singapore films but I think it comes down to something you mentioned earlier that directors may naturally film subjects closer to what they are familiar with. In the case of Singapore, comparatively, our country's situation is economically very different from the countries around hence film makers might just film differently based on their environment. It does not necessarily mean better films, just perhaps a different subject focus as a consequence of their environment.

Clarabelle: I think we are from different worlds. Singapore is significantly different from all the other countries that have environments far from being considered comfortable.  Hence, I feel the same as Ivan.

Jeremy: Do you think there is an identifiable ‘Singaporean’ film language? Among the Singapore entries, do you see commonalities in cinematic style?

Ivan: I see more commonalities to previous Singaporean directors actually. In other words, I am saying these films have traces of previously-seen directorial style. For example, ‘My Father After Dinner’ reminded me of Anthony Chen or Boo Junfeng at times. I am thinking that it may just be natural evolution to take inspiration from previous directors, in particular those who have gone on to achieve some success!

Jeremy: I want to add ‘Liao Jiekai’ as well for ‘My Father After Dinner. (beat) For me, what I do see among the Singapore entries is a very polished visual style e.g. meticulous art direction, camera framing, colouring etc. (pause) Almost too exquisite. (pause) Watching these films made me appreciate the rawness the other Southeast Asian entries have. I am not sure if they are raw because of lack of resources or maybe it is just the prevalent filmmaking culture in their respective countries?

Ivan: Perhaps that could be a consequence of the film industry's maturity as well? Of having access to resources and exposure?

Jeremy: I don’t think Singapore’s film industry is that mature yet but yes, perhaps some truth in what you say. After all, if you watch Eric Khoo's ‘Mee Pok Man’, the film that reignited the making of independent films in Singapore in the 90s, you will find it very raw.

Clarabelle: I think ultimately, it is environment. For the filmmakers, their environments are a strong influence in the way the films are created. After all what we see in our environment is visual...what is communicated through the film is also visual.

We leave you with the trailer to the winning film 'The Fox Exploits the Tiger's Might'

Not forgetting, the faces behind this chat room!

Jeremy Sing - Jeremy started SINdie 8 years ago as a diary of the film community's movements and an excuse to meet more Singapore filmmakers. He is thankful for the friendships made over the years.

Clarabelle Gerard - When Clarabelle is not writing at work, she can be found wandering, reflecting, having a conversation over tea with a friend or immersed in composing literature.

Ivan Choong - Between work, writing, learning Russian, draping and performing - Ivan is still wondering what else can be squeezed into a day! 

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