One is a drama about a 12-year-old girl who lives
in an impoverished Cambodian rural village but refuses
to accept that her fate is pre-determined by her
circumstances. One is a documentary which details
the attempts of three Beijing residents as they
strive to make their dreams for the Olympics a reality.
But both are helmed by Singapore filmmakers celebrate
the bumper crop of local films at the 21st Singapore
International Film Festival’s (SIFF) Singapore
Chok, producer of To Speak, recalls how he and
director Craig Ower traveled to Cambodia in August
2004 to shoot this film with two other crew members.
The four-man team’s journey was tiring but
were about seven to eight local villagers who
provided manpower and became our instant crew.
It was a nice gesture and was very meaningful.
It was a big deal to us,” Chok tells movieXclusive.com.
villagers were not paid, but their incentive was
a built house in the run-down slums of the country.
The film was initiated by director Ower who conceived
the story after repeated visits to the country
on such house-building projects.
Siok SIok, made Boomtown Beijing with the help
of my students while she was lecturing at the
Beijing Film Academy. Although she started with
a clear creative concept, quite a few of the visual
ideas came from the local students.
most memorable part of making this film is the
experience of capturing the city of Beijing, a
city that is going through such fascinating changes
in the lead up to the Olympics.
feel as though every moment that I am capturing
on film is a historical moment, a moment that
will not repeat itself,” adds the filmmaker
in an email interview.
and Tan may have different memories of making
their films, but these works have impacted their
says: “To Speak is based on true stories
told by the Cambodians. It is about how one strives
and rises from the vicious cycle of poverty. Told
from a young girl’s point of view, it is
very personally very meaningful to me because
there is this inspiring drive for resources.”
film has traveled to Montreal and Korea, and has
attracted Cambodians who are living in those countries,
which made Chok not regret making this film: “We
are assured that the film has effectively driven
Tan, Singapore seems like a quiet little town
after the experience of living and working in
Beijing because all the things taken for granted
here can be a challenge there.
the simple act of getting one place to another.
A journey that takes 10 to 15 minutes in Singapore
can sometimes take one to two hours in Beijing.
The good news is: you are more readily forgiven
for being late in Beijing!”
feels that she has become far more resilient and
resourceful, which are critical traits of an effective
film maker: “I have learnt that if I want
something bad enough and work at it long enough,
I will find a way to achieve my creative vision.”
do the filmmakers feel about the direction Singapore
films are moving towards?
Chok commends SIFF’s efforts
in bringing the various local films together in
this year’s Singapore Panorama section:
“It is a good start, but it shouldn’t
be a one-off thing. There is a need to cultivate
our own audiences’ awareness of local works.
The common public is often jaded about paying
for local films, and there is a need to bridge
He emphasizes: “We should
create films that audiences have not seen before
and they go, ‘This would be it’.”
While Tan feels excited about
being part of the Singapore Panorama, she isn’t
sure which direction local films are heading towards:
“I honestly have no clue. I can see that
more people are making works and stepping forward
to be acknowledged as ‘filmmakers’.
Hopefully, that means Singapore will no longer
be known for only having a handful of directors.”
a positive note, she adds: “May a hundred
flowers blossom.” -
By John Li