STOP10 Oct 2017: 'The Pursuit of a Happy Human Life' by Gladys Ng

The first time I watched The Pursuit of a Happy Human Life, it was screened right before the opening film at the Singapore International Film Festival in 2016. At the end of it, the guy seated in the row in front of me turned to his friend and went, ‘What just happened? Are they… lesbians?’

I muffled a laugh.

To be fair, I spent 10 years in an all-girls’ school. And from a guy’s point of view, the way that girls interact might make us seem like we’re indeed from Venus. While watching the film for the second time, it made me reminisce about my past memories and I couldn’t help but relate to it.

A short film commissioned by the 27th Singapore International Film Festival, The Pursuit of a Happy Human Life gives an insight of the struggle two best friends face when one of them have to leave the country.

I remember when I was 14, two close friends of mine got into the Integrated Programme. We were in a clique of four. That meant losing half of my best friends. On one hand I was happy for them, but on the other, I couldn’t help but feel betrayed. They got into good JCs and while I knew that it meant them having a ‘better’ future, I somehow felt that their choice reflected a statement about our friendship.

I was upset, and yes, perhaps even jealous. I felt left behind.

And that somehow made me feel a tad bit like Yokes. The opening shot of the film served as a form of closure to its ending as Yokes struggles to say goodbye to Steph.

While it is difficult to capture these raw emotions of adolescence, the state of the girls’ confusion and yearning was well captured in the film. From its cinematography to its art direction, it all helped in creating an environment that felt bare and stale. A cloud of emptiness hangs over them, refusing to let go even till the end.

The only critique would be that the chemistry between the girls was slightly awkward, and this showed through their dialogue. Some of their lines were unnatural (for girls who are best friends) and perhaps this awkwardness would lead others to second guess the girls’ intentions.

Slow yet moving, The Pursuit of a Happy Human Life is a short film that will grow on you, in areas that you least expect it to.

Screening details:
26 October 2017, Thursday, 7.30pm
Objectifs Centre
The Pursuit of a Happy Human Life is part of Objectifs’ annual Women in Film and Photography programme.

For more information about the programme and full list of films:

For the third edition of Women in Film, Objectifs features the voices and verve of women in an arena that has been traditionally dominated by men. In celebrating the achievements of women working in the film industry, this edition of the programme highlights the career of Kiki Sugino, a versatile director, producer and actress hailed as a “muse of Asian indie cinema”, alongside a selection of groundbreaking feature-length and short films from Europe, the United States and Singapore.

Women in Film is part of Objectifs’ annual Women in Film and Photography showcase. The programme celebrates extraordinary and groundbreaking works by women photographers and filmmakers, highlighting the important contributions that women make to the arts.

Tickets are available at $8 per screening session on a first-come-first-served basis. To purchase tickets, please click on this link.
Limited tickets are also available at the door.

Written by Christine Seow

For the full list of October 2017's 10 films under STOP10, click here.
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