ShoutOUT! Good samaritans (not in our history books) are captured in '15 Shorts'

The first 5 of the shorts in 15 Shorts have been unveiled and will be released over the next few weeks. 15 Shorts is a landmark film project between local film company Blue3Asia, the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) and 15 Singaporean filmmakers, produced together with AMOK, in support of the SG Cares movement.

The 15 Shorts film project showcases lesser-told stories of everyday Singaporean heroes in the 1970s to the 1990s, aimed at inspiring acts of giving. The films aim to raise awareness on critical and emergent social issues such as, social isolation faced by the elderly, identification and support of learning disabilities and autism, as well as the fair treatment of migrant workers.

Melissa Kwee, Chief Executive Officer of NVPC said at the press conference, “Why is having a giving spirit important for us anyway? Really to share the stories of outstanding citizens amongst us. To care, to defend the weak, to go and be kaypoh in a good way, into other people’s business to create Singapore into a home we can be so proud of..... Over the long term, Singapore's history can be taught in these films.”

Leading the 15 Shorts project is veteran filmmaker Daniel Yun. He said, “Some filmmakers and I believe there are Singapore stories that have not been told - especially during our nation building years when the main narrative was about surviving the odds. We have a culture of campaigns, including campaigns to be gracious and kind. Some of the untold stories will show that graciousness, kindness and selflessness have always been there, right from our striving years. We hope the millennials will get to know the people behind these stories.”

(Check out our full interview with Daniel on his brainchild here)

All 15 films will be hosted on, and viewers on the site can donate to NVPC’s online giving platform, where they can support the corresponding charities and contribute towards these causes.

The five films will subsequently be made available through online and offline channels, appearing on the big screen, broadcast, and various digital video platforms, including Singapore-based online video entertainment platform Viddsee, Mediacorp’s free-to-air channel, Channel 5, and online interactive service, Toggle from February to March. From May 2018, these films will also be released on Singapore Airlines' inflight entertainment system, KrisWorld.

The remaining films are targeted for release in phases till end 2019.


Here is the line-up of the 5 short films

SHELTER by Sean Ng

Abandoned by his father, Aaron, a 17-year-old Chinese boy, is left in debt and homeless, together with his mother and younger sister. They are forced to live in a tent at East Coast Park, against the backdrop of metropolitan, developing Singapore. The family meets a suspicious Indian man named Rashid, who claims to want to help them.

Sean: In a fast moving society like Singapore, most of us have the instinct to distrust strangers just like our protagonist in this story. When we first received the story of Rashid Bakar, we wanted to tell the story from the perspective of one of the families he helped. Shelter tells the story of a jaded 17-year-old teenager who, as the family’s sole breadwinner, has been tasked with responsibilities that no one at his age deserves.

Watch 'Shelter' here.

ONE AT A TIME by Daniel Yam

One At A Time tells the inspiring story of Teresa Hsu, a well-known Chinese-born Singaporean social worker. At 67 years old, Hsu founded the Home of the Aged Sick, one of the first homes for the sick elderly in Singapore, where she worked tirelessly as the matron of the home, before being made to retire from the home at 85. Following retirement, Hsu continued to care for the poor in her own capacity, such as by collecting old clothes for needy families. and founded Heart-to-Heart Service, a non-profit, informal direct-help service. Through key highlights, this short film reintroduces this icon to a new generation of online audiences, through charting her life's turning points and what shaped her relentless spirit of giving.

Daniel: This film is based on Teresa Hsu’s story. When I was researching about her, I discovered the meaning of true compassion and unconditional love. Initially, it felt too unbelievable and farfetched that such a saint-like person could exist. How could someone who started with nothing but poverty and suffering, ended up saving countless people and changed their lives? But it was all real. The process of researching and creating the film has truly humbled my heart. I believe at any moment, someone out there needs our help. Despite there are many more people that we cannot help, there is always one that we can reach out to. I hope with all my heart that this story could inspire us to just help one more person. I am excited to share Teresa's inspirational story and her message of helping “One At a Time”.

THE BUDDY by Jason Lee

Hidayat is an 8-year-old boy tasked to be a buddy to his classmate, Tam, and finds that he is frightened by Tam's erratic behaviour. Despite having Tam's parents and teachers dismiss him as reclusive and "weird", Hidayat chooses to accept Tam as different and tries to understand his behaviour and the two develop special relationship. Although Tam's condition is not explicitly stated, the film addresses the topic of autism, and the lack of knowledge behind this disorder, especially in the 90s. Delivered in the spirit of acceptance, the film aims to portray the innocence of childhood, and centers on Hidayat’s dilemma in doing the right thing for his friend.

Jason: No two autistic persons go about things in exactly the same way and it is incontrovertibly unjust to label them as a mere category. Just like any other individual, they have the ability to experience emotions and to give affection. In 'The Buddy', we see Tam, a primary school boy, who builds a friendship with Hidayat, his classmate-buddy. The friendship is innocent, pure and genuine.

I am born in the late 1990s and my impression of Singapore before then could largely be based on books, media and stories from family. For me, the period seems much harder to live than as of now. Transport infrastructure was weaker, public sanitation was less clean. Perhaps like what the adults who lived through would have said it right – that I would be the typical spoilt child from the Strawberry Generation. But through stories from the past, I noticed an unspoken charm about the period – people were more contented, more easy-going and less demanding. Things were looked at from a different perspective: It doesn’t matter if the toilet is unclean, it’s good enough that there is a toilet built in the first place for convenience sake; it doesn’t matter if the trains might breakdown, it’s good enough that we have a wide train network that conveniences our travel journey. This makes me all the more appreciative of the blessings I have and stop complaining.

WAITING ROOM by Nicole Midori Woodford

Waiting Room tells the story of Tommy Yu, a man who opens up his life and home to help those who are all alone in their last hour, as they move from the world of the living to the dead. The film is a poetic reflection on death, and friendship. It intertwines the moments of the dead and the living, by ritualising the day-to-day gestures that Tommy extends as part of his giving, together with the space and time that is inhabited by the people who pass away. This film shows the human bond between Tommy and those who left, through the simplicity of his gestures.

Nicole: Death is not something that the average person is able to deal with on an everyday basis not to mention having to be at peace with it. I wrote and directed Waiting Room after a meeting with Tommy Yu, a man who is at the heart of the film and who is not afraid of the taboos and superstitions that surround death, he brushes them aside to do what he feels passionately for, by caring for these people who have been forgotten by the rest of humanity.

Tommy Yu shared (during the press conference): I have more than 100 watches.....Watches cannot cremate. 1 watch is one life. So he kept them because there was no one to give to. From $3 to $30. All have.

ALI BABA by Randy Ang

In 1997, journalist Augustine Pang braves the risks of breaking the news of an illegal immigrant left for dead by his employer in the forested areas of Singapore. In a time when stories on migrant workers were still largely untold, Augustine challenges convention in the newsroom, and his life is forever changed by the experience.

Randy: I remembered vaguely during the late '90s that I read about a migrant worker in Singapore who was injured in a worksite; his employers leaving him for dead in the forest. It sounded like a sensational story from another country but it had happened here in Singapore. I was lost for words. I could not believe the inhumanity. I had the opportunity to speak to Augustine Pang, one of the journalists who broke the story of Mohd Bashar and I felt very strongly that this was the story I wanted to present for ‘15 Shorts’. It’s a story about determination and overcoming the odds as demonstrated by Bashar’s will to live and also Augustine and his colleague John’s striving to bring about justice. ‘ALI BABA’ tells a story that we would very much like to deny as a society. It’s a story that led me to realise what we can do to make a difference, stand up for what’s right, reach out to make a connection and being human.
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