STOP10 Sep 2017: 'In Time to Come' by Tan Pin Pin

In Time to Come is the latest documentary from Singapore’s most prolific documentary-filmmaker, Tan Pin Pin. Conceptualized in 2012, the film has undergone a 5 year long gestation period due to the narrative and thematic concerns of the film, which deals with the temporality (or lack thereof) of memory and recollection. 

Tan’s latest foray grapples with the unveiling of a 25 year old time capsule whilst simultaneously with the population of a new one. With her simple act of juxtaposition, time is at once dilated, collapsed and in stasis. Past, present and future no longer communicate distance or continuity but rather points or moments in alternate or parallel realities. The film is the latest in line of a body of work that has exhibited Tan’s precise and incisive observations about time and memories that fall through the carelessness of time’s cracks.

The director herself has said about the film-

“When I started what eventually became this film, I was collecting images around the topic of public rituals that defined our daily lives. For example, school flag-raising ceremonies, fire drills, morning greetings by staff at department stores and opening ceremonies. Rituals by their definition are repetitive and they recur across time, so there was an atemporal aspect to what I had filmed. I wondered, could these rituals, shot over four years, be edited together to be a commentary on modern life and on Singapore?

Since the period of this shooting also coincided with the commemoration of 50 years of Singapore’s independence, there were many commemorative rituals that I recorded too. One of them was the preparation of time capsules to commemorate this state event. We shot the preparation of the objects and the sealing of the capsules. At the same time, there were old time capsules being exhumed and their contents were revealed and cleaned before us, and we filmed them too.

Time capsules embody man’s desire to contain the past, present and future, all in one object. The preparation of them spoke of the present’s perception of a future time, while their eventual exhumation referenced the past’s vision of the future too, as seen from the present. In that, time capsules are very similar to films.”

The film competed and premiered in April 2017 at the prestigious Visions du Reel documentary festival in Switzerland. Since then, it has also competed at the Hot Docs festival in Canada and the É Tudo Verdade festival in São Paolo in the Best International Documentary category. With this film, Tan has also made a successful return to New York, where the film played at the Lincoln Centre as part of the line-up for Art of the Real festival. Screenings in Seoul, Hong Kong and Sheffield round off the film’s impressive festival run.
When we asked Pin Pin what were some of the more interesting comments she received about the film during its festival run, this is what she had to say. The Koreans who viewed the documentary remarked that Singapore seem more regimented than they imagined. Some audiences compared the differences between To Singapore, with Love, Pin Pin's earlier documentary about Singapore exiles, and this film. Others asked about the potential science fiction angle of the film - whether it was a commentary on a possible dystopian future of Singapore.
In particular, Jean Noh, who is the Deputy Asia Editor and Korea correspondent of Screen International commented it was "lovely, The kind of film that makes you want to sit & watch documentaries in a cinema all day long, breathing in their atmosphere and matching up your heartbeats to theirs."

Catch the film this month when it opens exclusively at Filmgarde at Bugis+ on the 28th of September. Ticket sales start on the 19th.

More about the film on its official site.

Written by Koh Zhi Hao

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