STOP10: 10 local films to catch in July 2017

Let’s talk cock. Chickens to most are considered ordinary but thanks to kampungs giving way to the concrete jungle, they are considered rare in Singapore and hence, quite a sight to behold, especially if you are a millennial. Why some Singaporeans cannot take the cackling of a few free-range chickens in their HDB estate and why the AVA (Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore) had to cull them faster than the rate at which we catch Pokemons, is beyond comprehension. Our neighbours appear to love chickens a lot more than we do. On a weekly basis in many parts of Malaysia, people come together to marvel at exotically-stunning fowl in beauty pageants made for chicken. Some of this beauty is even surgically-enhanced.

A group of communications graduates from Nanyang Technological University, ventured into little towns in Malaysia and Indonesia to document these ‘Chicken Beauty Pageants’ and the cruel fascination with chickens living up to certain standards of beauty and bearing some amount of pain for it (Wait a minute, that sounds uncannily familiar). ‘Chicken Beauty Pageant’ the film, puts the spotlight on these beauty contests, through the journey of King Den, winner of Indonesian Chicken of the Year 2015, and of course, its proud owner. After winning the titles consecutively for the last five years, age finally catches up with the creature. And it had to concede defeat to newer chicks on the block. Strange isn’t it? Familiar wisdom found in unfamiliar soil.

Films in general have this ability to illuminate connections and parallels in polar-opposite worlds. They take us far away from our comfort zone but in actual fact, are opening our minds to a different realm of comfort. We find ourselves having more in common with creatures than humans in this story about chickens.

In our STOP10 July line-up of films, characters walk into spaces that are too strange, too exotic, too menacing, too dangerous and even too abstract. And we get lost in these places together with them. But eventually, we all find our way home and home greets you differently this time, now that we have seen the good, bad and the ugly in the world outside.

Chicken Beauty Pageant
1 Jul, Sat, 7pm, *SCAPE Gallery, Level 5
National Youth Film Awards (NYFA) Weekend screening of NYFA 2016 winning short films
Discovery Asia Channel ‘Jumpcut’ series
Chickens have their version of Miss Universe. Like the well-known beauty contest, chicken beauty contests feature a lot of plumage and slender legs. Originated from Malaysia, the popularity of these contests have spread to Indonesia and even outside the Asian continent. The film documents these contests through the experience of a serial-winner called King Den. How long can he hold on to the crown? Why are these breeders so passionate about fowl play? And, gore alert, their owners have actually altered their body structures to make them more beautiful. A tad grotesque if you ask us, but a brilliant expose.
Read more about the film and how you can watch it here.

1 Jul, Sat, 7pm, *SCAPE Gallery, Level 5
National Youth Film Awards (NYFA) Weekend screening of NYFA 2016 winning short films
Directing your father on the film set must be a peculiar experience. When your father is a veteran professional television actor, it gets even more bizarre. At least, that’s how outsiders like us see it. Filmmaker Jonathan Choo has directed his father, Zhu Houren, a few times and seems to have found a winning formula. Han, Jonathan’s entry to the National Youth Film Awards in 2016 won the Best Picture prize. Han tells the story of a senior man who goes to Korea to look up the father of a road accident victim who died in a crash caused by his own son.
Clever and non-linear storytelling, sensitive and nuanced direction, understated acting from a veteran trained in TV melodrama, and K-drama-esque, orange-hued Autumn scenery, are just some of the winning elements in the film.
Read more about the film and how you can watch it here.

Shortlisted under the Non-media Student Voting Category in National Youth Film Awards 2017
Many Singaporeans may not know this, the men who build our skyscrapers are talented actors, poets and artists as well. Dibashram is a community centre of sorts for the migrant worker community in Little India. On their off days, they come together to make music, recite poetry and put up skits. But beyond putting on the tourist lenses, this film goes deeper into discussing a language that was outlawed in Pakistan in 1952 (when Bangladesh was under Pakistan). Perhaps something a little community centre could revive, miles away from its motherland? Great things happen in little corners.
Read more about the film and how you can watch it here.

1 Jul, Sat, 3pm, Mediacorp Suria Channel
Also available on Mediacorp Toggle Channel
Gov.Singapore YouTube Channel
From Banting to Gunting, director Raihan Halim is always up to some-ting. Never mind this is a government-driven project to get ordinary people to (pardon the jargon) retool, retrain, revamp…. basically anything but relax, the producers have pulled enough star power to make this telemovie great entertainment for the Raya festive season. The show’s leads, Taufik Batisah and Hishyam Hamid, are supported by other acclaimed artistes such as Adlina Adil, Yuslina Yussof, Rahimah Rahim and Shane Mardjuki. Even Minister Yaacob Ibrahim has a cameo.
Due to sickness, Salihin, the owner of a barber shop decides to close his shop. His son, Taufik, played by the most famous Taufik in Singapore returns home to take care of Salihin. Determined to continue the legacy of his father, Taufik teams up with his childhood friend, a handsome Hishyam Hamid, to open “Salihin & Sons” – a gentleman’s barber shop in the HDB heartlands. Fans of Taufik, be treated to his great vocals in the movie’s theme song ‘Untuk Kita’ (for us). We just pray they did not use the word ‘SkillsFuture’ in the lyrics.
Read more about the film and how you can watch it here.

1 Jul (screening for 1-year), iWERKS Theatre, Singapore Discovery Centre
Cinema has the ability to illuminate a different side to things like no other medium can, especially when you are fighting conventional wisdom. In the eyes of mainstream media, there is often only one narrative about terrorism and terrorists. But Azza, the short film, will put you in a tight spot about the issue. The film is based on Nur Shahidah’s (the producer) real-life experience of her father being incarcerated for planting a fake bomb scare. She was 11 year-old then and had to fight the dilemma of exposing her father in the police investigations. Following the incident, her mother went into depression and almost attempted to kill herself and her two children along with her. That’s too much for an pre-teen to bear and we are glad Shahidah survived (pardon the pun) those trying times to tell this story.
Read more about the film and how you can watch it here.

Discovery Asia Channel ‘Jumpcut’ series on YouTube
Two young men, each with an unusual hobby give us the non-glossed over, non-filtered look at their passion. There is Arief, who likes to perch himself on the rooftops of skyscrapers in Jakarta to take pictures of his daredevil ‘I’m on top of the world!’ pictures. All this is amplified, perhaps glamorised through instagram postings and highly-filtered shots. There is also Mark, who is an ant-geek. His curiosity about ants, their species and behaviour inspires an equal degree of curiosity about him the ‘ant-scientist’. Mark too, himself, found his way into moderate instagram fame with his pre-occupation. The film raises an important question - are celebrities born naturally or can they be manufactured?
Read more about the film and how you can watch it here.
5 Jul, Wed, 7pm, Shaw Theatres Lido
Screened In celebration of International Domestic Workers Day
Another ‘Maid-In-Singapore’ film but quite different from the rest we have seen, like Ilo Ilo or No Day Off. Remittance is a narrative feature film about foreign domestic workers, acted mostly by real domestic workers themselves. The other difference is you get to see the lives of these women outside their roles as domestic workers. Back in the Philippines, they still have family issues to deal with, debts to settle, milk powder to purchase and the film depicts all that. The other interesting aspect is that the film depicts their lives as women and not just in their roles as workers. Still a struggle but different challenges we don’t normally see. Not to mention, this film was made mostly on Sundays.
Read more about the film and how you can watch it here.

Red Dragonflies
6 Jul, Thu, 7.30pm, DECK , 120A Prinsep Street
In 2010, this film won the Special Jury Prize at 2010 Jeonju International Film Festival and the jury called the film a ‘mysterious evocation of Singapore's disappearing history’. This film is beautiful even though the camera is fixated half the time on the most ordinary things we see. It is an ode to the old and disappearing in Singapore, like the discontinued KTM railway track, without serving nostalgia too literally.
In the film, Rachel and her two friends explore an abandoned railway track that runs through a dense forest, but one them falls into a dark hole and their little adventure ends abruptly. Years later, all grown-up, Rachel comes face to face with the past again, through a chance encounter. Did she find her friend in the end?

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

The Lights Went Out
13 Feb, Thu, 8.30pm, Objectifs Chapel Gallery
Part of Asian Film Focus 2017

An alternative title for this short film could be ‘faulty light fixtures’. Flickering lights enrich the texture of the nightscape in Singapore. We know too well the lights never go out in this city. When a light malfunctions, it gets fixed the following night.  Adar Ng’s work is a gaze on these little lighting anomalies we will never ever find time to look at, kind of like staring at the floating plastic bag in American Beauty.
Read more about the film and how you can watch it here.

Coming Attractions
15 Jul, Sat, 8.30pm, Objectifs Chapel Gallery
Part of Asian Film Focus 2017

Visual artist Ting Min-Wei created a two-channel video where pictures and sounds from acclaimed American war films released between 1977 and 2015 have been remixed with totally off-tangent footage from films of other genres. The result is uncanny. The sniper and the stripper, the watched and the watching, the Arab and the Asian, you get the gist. It leaves you to think about how Hollywood likes to exoticise non-war elements in many war films.
Read more about the film and how you can watch it here.
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