STOP10: 10 local films to catch in August 2017

If you don’t know Dick Lee, he is one of Singapore’s most celebrated musicians and he is arguably the first person to make Singlish fashionable. It seems he was a pretty precocious child too, having written this when he was in his teens.

Thinking back
I like to dream of things I would have done
If I were braver then again I'm not
What's there to do?
Maybe if I had another chance
I'd go into my past
And make my life a better one
For me and you

Just my life story
Minute by second a story
That goes on forever with each breath that I take
This is my life story
Uneventfullest story
That ages with each year and birthday cake

When its time
And I must close
I'll write a book
And sign it X
And send it to some true romance type magazine somewhere
Then the world will read of me
And say there lived a hero
But too late my friends and enemies
I guess life isn't fair

Colourful characters and lives are aplenty in Singapore but not everyone gets a chance to have their lives written into a book. It takes a marriage of two questions – Does the character’s life matter to everyone else? Is he or she ready to tell his or her story to the world?  Dick Lee’s directorial debut Wonder Boy, based on events in his real teenage life, takes that leap of courage into sharing with the public a lesser-known episode in his life, one less glamorous and pretty wayward. Living in Singapore, the level of sugar-coating in mainstream media is phenomenal. This is why when one sees something unabashedly honest on film or on TV, it becomes a highly refreshing experience.

So with great hope, we look forward to getting an authentic slice of Dick Lee’s ‘life story’ in Wonder Boy and instead of expecting to see a hero, we hope to see a man whom we can both abhor and love at the same time. In the month of August, STOP10 offers more of the same, a honest gaze at lives and some very difficult issues without tinted lenses. A family feud, capital punishment and conservation conundrums, among others. Many seemingly far-removed yet closer to home than you think.


The Blue Mansion

Available on DVD as part of the Glen Goei box set from Books Actually
It’s all about a family feud. A pineapple tycoon dies mysteriously. Two brothers are fighting because one wants to control the family business more than the other who was actually appointed to take over the business instead. A slightly eccentric sister who seems more in favour of one brother than the other. In-laws who cannot stand one another and a dozen other delicious family secrets.

But actually, the tycoon is not dead in the film, he ‘lives’ on through his ghost. Following his ‘spirit’, we are taken on a tour of the household. Together with the work of two investigators, the film leads us to uncover the truth behind his death.

The film was released in 2009 but there is no better time to watch it than RIGHT NOW, simply because, you know, we are living in a pretty messy post-SG50 world and like the film’s tagline says, ‘Sometimes your family just kills you’.

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


Newly-launched Special Edition DVD box set available at Objectifs School of Photography and Filmmaking
Boo Junfeng’s award-winning Apprentice has been travelling hard on the film festival circuit for a year and has screened at close to 70 film festivals around the world. It is finally finding a permanent home in your grasp - a Special Edition DVD. The Special Edition DVD contains a 40-page booklet with Director’s Statement, director’s interview, production notes, behind the scenes photos and full-page film stills. The DVD also includes bonus features like deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Apprentice tells the story of Sergeant Aiman who gets transferred to a maximum security prison and incidentally, lands himself in the shoes of the apprentice of the country’s chief executioner, Rahim. The booklet in the DVD set reveals the interesting story behind how they constructed the fictional Larangan Prison in the film. It is in fact a “Frankenstein” of a prison, patched together with multiple locations including two disused prisons in Australia, a warehouse in Singapore and a constructed set of the gallows corridor in Singapore.

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

Saving Sungei Road

Saving Sungei Vimeo Channel
Sungei Road Flea Market has been closed officially since 10 July this year, after several unsuccessful petitions and what appears to be strange concern from the younger generation, many of whom have not grown up with the market. Besides the occasional headline news of this place, what sort of history does Sungei Road encompass?

As the oldest flea market of secondhand items in Singapore, plenty of pioneer generation street hawkers have been relying on their sales there as a source of income. To make way for the future in the form of a new residential development, what are we leaving the 500 over elderly sellers with? Can we truly afford to let go and mark this part of history as unimportant?

Watch this 2015 film and read on here.

The Conservation Conversation

OKJ Discoveries YouTube Channel, nominated for the National Youth Film Awards 2017 non-media student Audience Choice category
“If we are not part of the solution, then we are a part of the problem.”

Slightly short of 20 minutes, this is a documentary based on the pioneer batch of National University of Singapore (NUS) Tembusu College students’ initiated STEER expedition to Indonesia. This student-led journey of interacting with locals and their thoughts is captured on video to share what the 24 explorers discover and learn along the way. They visit a shark market, a bird market and come very close to a majestic looking Komodo dragon. Eventually, the students take home lessons about the realities of conservation efforts in the modern world today.

This film won the DBS Gold Award in the non-media student category of the National Youth Film Awards this year.

Go on this journey and read more about it here.

Second Chance

Viddsee, Singapore Film Channel and listed as Top 10 of 2016
Though only six minutes long, this film is a pleasant surprise of playing out the unexpected while dealing with one of the most cliché themes: love. Treated in soft pastel tones and accompanied by gentle music, the visuals seemed to portray romance and relationships in such an idealistic manner. However, the story unravels beautifully through an intentional replay and a quiet promise of how nothing is ever too late to be set in stone.

This film serves up a good dose of hopefulness in the simplest manner of telling a story.

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

The Story that Changed The World

mm2 Entertainment YouTube Channel
Dedicated to all who have chosen to pursue their passion through hard work and making sacrifices, this short film by director Daniel Yam is about keeping dreams alive.

Bill Tan, played by Mediacorp actor Chew Chor Meng, is the owner of a video rental store, struggling to keep his shop running. While dealing with the reality of a shrinking customer pool, this very store has also been touching and changing his customers’ lives.

Effectively a silent movie with no audible dialogue, the scenarios are all played out through the use of body language and the viewers’ own emotional engagement. We love how the film reminds us of the stacks of VCR tapes we use to keep in our cabinets.

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

Wonder Boy

General release in cinemas on 3 August 2017
A debut film by celebrated Singaporean musician Dick Lee alongside seasoned director Daniel Yam, Wonder Boy is a biopic that would be music to most ears. Based on Lee’s lesser-known growing up years as a teenager and a struggling musician, the film brings us back to the rather ‘havoc’ days of the 1970s. The film, in Dick Lee’s own words, aims to bring you back to the real 70s he grew up in, a Singapore that was as seedy as it was repressive. Where drug-taking in school, rampant prostitution coexisted in a society where rock music and long hair on men were banned. If you need any more reasons to catch this film, The Sam Willows’ Benjamin Kheng will play Dick Lee in the film, with other actors such as Constance Song, Chen Yi Xi (son of Edmund Chen and Xiang Yun) and Mediacorp’s Julie Tan.

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

Palace of Love

15 Aug, Tue, 8pm, Alliance Francaise, screened before feature film ‘La Jalousie’

We have all heard of mail order brides in Singapore but how many stories do we actually know of? In the last decade, more than fifty thousand Singaporean men have married foreign brides from our neighbouring Southeast Asian countries.

Palace of Love follows a middle-aged Singaporean man who marries a young Vietnamese bride, as he lives with his mother. This film is partially funded through the filmmakers’ own indiegogo campaign, and made possible through their passion of wanting to tell this story.

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

Happily Ever After

18 Aug, Fri, 7pm, Imagine, Library @ Orchard
This film is part of Asian Film Archive's ASEAN Journeys series. The entire programme is a collection of various short films that depict the resilience and journey of people from this region in dealing with modernity and urbanisation. Happily Ever After challenges preconceived notions and the traditions we carry forward in the familiar situation of weddings. Presented in three parts, the 60s, the 80s and the current times, the film presents newly-weds and their families bunching up together for a family photo. Reminiscent of an early scene in Hou Hsiao Hsien’s City of Sadness, the film offers an observation about family behaviour that is somewhat clinical, wryly-funny and pretty revealing about our own lives today.

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

The Last Shift

29 Aug, Tue, 8pm, Alliance Francaise, screened before feature film ‘In Profil Pour Deux’

Centred around one elderly man’s last shift of work at a security post, this short film places the focus on the details we may miss in our daily lives. It is about being part of a routine, then breaking that routine to fall into a different motion of life altogether. Let the camera reveal to you the things that have always been there but unnoticed or awaken you to how time will change things and age will catch up with you.

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