STOP10: 10 local films to catch in March 2017

I dare put forward a question this month. Where do the new batches of filmmakers who graduate from film school in Singapore year after year go? Judging from the names floating around in the film festival circuit, only a handful have really sunk their teeth into pursuing film festival success, a supposed ‘holy grail’ of filmmaking. Are the rest swimming in a different pond?

For a filmmaker today, getting your completed film screened at a film festival in hope of earning some of those laurels next to the name of your films, is no longer the only road to success available. You can be making films for the internet audience, aiming for that $5,000 prize in a 72-hour film challenge or riding the technology wave with VR-content and the likes. Thanks to online viewing platforms like YouTube and Netflix, the game is changing and some of the best talents are turning their attention and energy towards the internet.

We cast our nets wider this month of March, in search of gems online alongside your traditional screening platforms and events. And we were delightfully surprised. Apart from our regular Viddsee picks, film productions from YouTube Channels like Butterworks and Cheokboard Studios show us why they are gaining audiences like wild fire.

In our March STOP10 list, check out internet hits like Goldfish and Hooped on You, made for the Netflix generation. Our usual line-up of films in their conventional format remain with film festival favourites like The Songs We Sang, Lang Tong and Aik Khoon (an old one from 2005) making reprises. Lastly, if you love food, escape to sunny Okinawa to savour some Jimami Tofu. Actually,we are not talking about the dish but a new feature film about food and relationships. Screenings are by invitation only but we will tell you how you can be invited!

Let's start the countdown.

Lang Tong

3 March, Friday, 7.30pm - 10.30pm, SCAPE Gallery

Judging from the warm response to the film during the 25th Singapore International Film Festival premiere and general commercial release, Singaporeans are not that prudish after all. We need some naughty thrills in our lives to beat the monotony of our weekly routines. Lang Tong, Singapore’s first erotic thriller, is quite a jolting ride for the senses with its delectable plot twists, eye-candy cast, food porn, gore and of course, sex. Before the ladies say this is a film made for the lads, this film will also teach men a good lesson about womanising. Ladies will be particularly satisfied at how a pair of female fatales hack the living daylights out of the bad guy. Simply Bak Kut Tehlicious! This screening is paired with a dialogue session with Sam Loh, the director behind all this wickedness.

Read more about the film and how you can watch it here.

Hooped on You

Butterworks YouTube Channel

Bubble tea girl meets basketball player in this adolescent feature-length school drama with a noticeable tinge of the candy-hued goofiness found in Korean idol dramas. Marrying television aesthetics with film narratives, Hooped on You has this uncanny ability to get you hooked. The premise is not original - high school crushes, BGR, and the dilemma of a rich-boy versus poor-boy love triangle. But the delivery is no holds barred earnest. Not sure if they engaged an acting coach, but the film features a cast of first-time actors who are able to ham it up almost as well as Jack Neo’s motley crew of sidekicks. Made by Butterworks, a digital content producer, we bet you will find it hard to press stop on your computer for that toilet break.
Read more about the film and how you can watch it here.

Cheokboard Studios YouTube Channel
If you are a YouTube addict, Jonathan Cheok might not be a stranger to you. He started Cheokboard Studios in 2013, producing content for YouTube and has since gained a formidable following with about 215,000 subscribers and over 37 million views. In addition, if you find his face familiar, you must have been watching Season One of Singapore Idol. Jonathan made it into the Top 24. Wacky YouTube channels with videos made for mindless sofa entertainment are aplenty but Cheokboard Studios does its humour with class and wit. Comedy aside, there are also simple love stories found on the channel. Goldfish is one tasty catch. He took his camera and crew to Hong Kong for this sweet tale of encounter and fate. Also makes you want to take a second glance at black goldfishes the next time you visit an aquarium.
Read more about the film and how you can watch it here.

The Longest-Distance Relationship

Viddsee, Singapore Film Channel

This documentary, with its chummy band of four teenage friends, seems like a light on the sensitive topic of religious beliefs. But it is more profound than what appears on the surface like a ‘non-serious documentary’. The four friends, each with a different religion (one Taoist, one Buddhist, one Christian, one atheist) explore the quirks of each other’s religious beliefs with a surprising amount of honesty. It asks daring questions to people who might possibly take offence, such as questions about religious idols and er, going to hell. Brave.

Read more about the film and how you can watch it here.

The Lying Theory

Viddsee, Singapore Film Channel

Imagine a world in which everyone lies and you have the special power to tell if the person talking to you is lying. Would the world be a better place or a worse place? As we know, sometimes, it’s better not to know the truth and live with some false hope! In the film The Lying Theory, Claire is the most mistrustful girl in the whole wide world. She has an in-built lying detector that shows her how much the people she is talking are lying and everyone gets a score. The higher the score, the bigger the lie. So she trusts almost no one. Until one day, she meets a boy whose score is zero and something inside her starts to change…. Which begs a question. Are boys bigger liars or girls? Something to think about.

Read more about the film and how you can watch it here.

Aik Khoon
11 Mar, Sat, 2pm, National Museum of Singapore Gallery Theatre

This quirky little short film called Aik Khoon was quite an oddball standout in the nascent filmmaking scene more than 10 years ago. Aik Khoon is a world-weary looking taxi driver goes jalan jalan around town with his chikopek old friend, Chong Hua. With his colourful language, Chong Hua pisses off half the people around him and in the taxi car, but is a source of entertainment for Aik Khoon, who seems mired in some form of deep thought, with his demeanour screaming ‘Í just lost $10000 at Resorts World Sentosa’. Aik Khoon, the film, is also interesting on another level - Aik Khoon is played by Aik Khoon himself. Director Chris Yeo cast his own dad in this film where his dad was asked to play himself. Chris has some stories for us on how he played director to his dad.
Read more about the film and how you can watch it here.

Beyond the Wedlock House

11 Mar, Sat, 2pm, National Museum of Singapore Gallery Theatre

This film proves that reality can be stranger than fiction. Beyond the Wedlock House, the short film, finds an unintentional narrative within a real wedding video footage (or maybe it was more like calculated coincidence). Filmmaker Liao Jiekai plants himself right in the corner of the make-up room of the bride, who seems to be a cousin, documenting her conversations with him and the make-up artist. They talk career, growing up and hints of other topics. Not sure how the bride remained her candid self knowing this was going on video, but the result is as honest as sibling conversations can get. And fit for a museum audience too!
Read more about the film and how you can watch it here.

The Songs We Sang

17 Mar, Fri, 6.30pm, Viva Business Park - Urban Park
18 Mar, Sat, 6.30pm, Tampines Hub - Festive Plaza (director Eva Tang in attendance)
The following around this film never seems to end. It first premiered to a sold-out screening at the Esplanade Theatre during the 26th Singapore International Film Festival. Then it enjoyed a successful commercial run in the cinemas in 2016, attended even by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, not on official invitation! This month, it is back again with two screenings as part of the National Arts Council’s Arts in the Neighbourhood film screening event. This is Singapore’s quintessential xinyao film, virtually an encyclopedia of xinyao songs that gained prominence from the campuses of the defunct Nanyang University to the old Channel 8 television studios of Singapore Broadcasting Corporation. It is so thoroughly-researched, the film makes you feel you’ve lived a lifetime watching it and you want to stand up and clap when the credits roll.    

Read more about the film and how you can watch it here.

Durian Picking
22 Mar, Wed, 7.30pm, Objectifs Chapel Gallery

Come to Objectifs for a night of durians and bugs on your plate. Not exactly a gastronomic pairing made-in-heaven but certainly an interesting pairing of films as part of a series themed ‘Çonspicuous Consumption’, which examines habits and patterns of human consumption and their effects on the world around us. In Durian Picking, Kray Chen follows his durian-obsessed father into the jungle during the dark wee hours of the morning to look for and pick durians. Shot with a certain rawness akin to The Blair Witch Project, the film is a quirky gaze at his father’s eccentric food-hunting ritual, shot to a somewhat creepy effect as well. From durians, we move on to another food item of acquired taste, bugs. In the accompanying film Bugs, watch lots of Scandinavian men sample creepy crawlies, cooked to perfection, and smack their lips.   
Read more about the film and how you can watch it here.

Jimami Tofu
Private screenings only, dates TBC, look out for our Facebook post on how you can be invited
A Chinese Singaporean chef, formerly working in Tokyo, finds himself in Okinawa begging a disgruntled old chef to teach him traditional Okinawan food. A top Japanese food critic finds herself in Singapore on an eye opening discovery of Southeast Asian cuisine. In reality both are looking for each other after an emotional breakup years ago when she left him without a trace. In seeking food, will they find each other? We think they will, perhaps over a plate of tofu? (Followed by lots of sake!)
For those dying to know: Jimami Tofu is a kind of tofu infused with the subtle aroma of peanuts, found in Okinawa.

Read more about the film and how you can watch it here.

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