STOP10: 10 local films to catch in September 2017

What does it mean to teach? A mediocre teacher tells, a good teacher explains, the better teacher demonstrates and the best teachers inspire. Great films can be great teachers, acting as vessels to ignite inspiration upon all those who can bear witness to them. Some films teach us so much with so little, they become turning points or hallmarks in our lives, affecting and developing us into who we are today. And very much like great teachers, they continually serve to enlighten us repeatedly, despite countless revisits. 

Though we do learn all the time, there seems to be some sort of great comfort, in learning from someone older than us. A physical presence in the form of a mentor, or an elder whose advanced years means they not only know most, but they are also the ones most capable of reducing that experience into something simple and obvious for us.

In the month of September, the films featured for STOP10 aims to celebrate such mentors, be they our teachers or our family elders. This special group of exemplary people who aids and assist others with their insight and maturity, and who not only fill minds but shape characters. We are who we are now, because of them.

A dedicated teacher going an extra mile to help her student, a young impulsive musician discovering some startling and inspirational similarities with his grandfather, an installation reframing our history and seeing it in a new light which pairs well in parallel with a film rethinking the configuration of memory, present, past, temporality. All looking to not simply teach with didacticism or preaching but dramatically inspire and kindle thoughtful fires inside its audiences.

Muthal Vanakam

Teacher’s Day Telemovie screened on MediaCorp Vasantham on 31 August 2017
Available on Toggle TV now

Kicking off September, is a Teacher’s Day special telemovie. Inspired by his own teachers and hoping that audiences begin to appreciate them more, the filmmakers set out to make Muthal Vanakam. 

The film tells the heartwarming story of Miss Maya, who begins to notice a student of hers, an orphan, Revathi struggling to cope with her studies, peer pressure and working part time to support herself and her grandfather. Her caring devotion for her student goes above and beyond her duties, it highlights just how fundamental and constant the role of teachers are in our development.

And, for those who love future-proofing technology, this telemovie was shot in 8k with the RED Dragon Camera. That is a lot of pixel power trying to reach us through our HD TVs!

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

Single City

1 Sep, Fri, 10pm, StarHub Hub E City Ch 111/825 or StarHub Go 

Now, speaking of love, Ray Pang’s new telemovie Single City features an attempt at it. The strange premise finds us set in the distant future of low birth rates, wherein all unmarried people under 30s are sent to Single City to find a partner to fall in love with.

A strange blend of dystopia and romantic comedy, featuring 4 different characters, feels almost like a strange lovechild of The Lobster, Children of Men via Love Actually.

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

The Tiger of 142B

Nominee in 19th Digicon6 Singapore Audience Choice
Available now on Toggle

The Tiger of 142B is a surrealistic animated short film based on Dave Chua's short story of the same name. It was part of the Utter Singapore 2015 Festival but recently picked up the Best Film Award at the 1st SeaShorts Film Festival in Malaysia this year.

Connecting to the similar struggles faced by the main protagonist, that of unemployment after graduation, the vividly realized adaptation has a new personality and a personal touch for the Zhuang brothers. A very French looking animation coming out of our shores seems hard to believe, but so does a premise of a tiger roaming a HDB neighbourhood. 

The film is part of the 19th Digicon6 Singapore Audience Choice nominees, alongside several other works and is available to be viewed for voting purposes till the 5th September 2017. 

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

Happy to See You

1 - 24 September 2017 at Golden Village Cinemas, selected timings
Part of Silver Films, commissioned for Silver Arts 2017

An unstereotypical film about the elderly, inspired by Chang Kang’s own fiesty mother, Happy to See You grew in the midst of a desire to see the elderly as characters with greater verve and vitality on the big screen. We probably had enough of immobile elderly characters in deathbeds at this point right?

A story about reconciliation after 50 years between friends after a random chance encounter, one begins to wonder what feuds or unresolved dramas we each carry around with us now, and is it worth all that emotional baggage in the grand scheme of things? Probably not.

Except for everyone that kept ‘borrowing’ my pens at school and then never returning them. I’ll take that to my grave!

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


1 - 24 September 2017 at Golden Village Cinemas, selected timings
Part of Silver Films, commissioned for Silver Arts 2017

With the modern world so focused and obsessed on the new, the young and the fresh, we, as a collective society we seem to be suffering from recurring short term cultural amnesia. Often forgetting that the things we face in life are not so entirely unique, that life ostensibly and ironically somehow repeats like musical rhythms and progresses in only slight variations or permutations from generation to generation. We ought to appreciate the fact that we do stand on the shoulders of previous generations. 

Rayqal by Sufyan Sam’an brings to the forefront this generational gap and in some ways lack thereof, as the titular character struggles to get ready for a musical competition but without his bandmates after a falling out, only to discover his very own grandfather was once the frontman of a band.   

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

The Veiled Willow 柳影袈裟

1 - 24 September 2017 at Golden Village Cinemas, selected timings
Part of Silver Films, Silver Arts 2017

Trying to get a bit more of the Cantonese dialect back into the cinemas is Eva Tang, with The Veiled Willow 柳影袈裟. As Hitchcock once muttered, ‘Dialogue should simply be a sound among other sounds, just something comes out the mouths of people whose eyes tell the story in visual terms.’ However, Hitchcock never had to deal with a contested dialect whose use on the silver screens would be frowned upon or banned. He totally had it easy.

The film concerns a loyal maid servant and a lonely elderly grandmother and her wish to see her servant married. It is a wonderfully orchestrated film which was part of a larger omnibus of five short films titled 667, produced by Royston Tan for the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre Cultural Extravaganza earlier this year. 

Read more about Eva’s struggles when she went in search of self-discovery of her own cultural roots and how you can watch it here.

‘The Name’ and ‘The Nameless’

1 - 19 Sep, Gillman Barracks
'Ghosts and Spectres - Shadows of History' Exhibition

Delving into history in a very different way, is The Name and The Nameless by Ho Tzu Nyen. A two channel installation, the work looks at history of communism in Malaya, through the use of found footage, recolouring as well as filmic juxtapositions. The two play against each other or in a strange harmony. The Name (above) takes the visual representations of a Euro-American male author but accompanied by writings of Gene Z. Hanrahan who published in 1954, the manuscript titled 'The Communist Struggle in Malaya.' The Nameless meanwhile tells the story of the infamous triple agent Lai Teck.

'Ghost and Spectres' is an exhibition running now at Gillman Barracks and features other video installations and films by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Nguyen Trin Thi and Park Chan Kyong. The artists research into their own cultural and historical backgrounds looks at the notions of ‘ghosts’ as events not openly discussed and ‘spectres’ as historical violence and trauma .

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

Sayang Disayang

Now available on Blu-Ray

Sanif Olek’s 2013 film Sayang Disayang has now finally been made available on Blu- Ray. The film which was the first locally made Malay-language film since independence, features Rahim Razali as a crabby and disabled widower and his difficult relationship with his homesick Indonesian caretaker.

The film took 6 years in total to make, so it is of no surprise at all that it took quite a while to get to Blu-Ray, but as in the film, a lot of patience and a little love and understanding can go a long way.

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

Lizard on the Wall

9 Sep, Sat, Midnight, The Projector
Closing event of the 2017 Singapore International Festival of the Arts

Having found most weddings to be quite difficult events to navigate, imagine willingly playing the role of both audience and participant, partaking in a wedding banquet where things inevitably take an unexpected turn. Scandal, secrets and shame threaten to tear Rajagopal’s unique audience participating, live performance filmmaking.

Lizard on the Wall is an adaptation of Balli Kaur Jaswal’s celebrated novel, 'Inheritance,' and the film’s gala premiere will mark the closing of the Singapore International Festival of Arts.

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

In Time to Come

Opens 28 Sep, Tickets go on sale 19 Sep
Exclusively at Filmgarde Bugis+

Last but not least, is Tan Pin Pin’s newest film, still running hot on the festival route having recently competed and premiered at the highly regarded Visions du Reel documentary festival in April 2017.

On the surface the film deals with the unearthing of a 25 year old time capsule and the juxtaposition with modernity, the film also focuses in on public rituals and commemorative acts, whilst navigation the human perception of time.

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


Written by Rifyal Giffari

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