4th Singapore Short Cuts3 min readReading Time: 3 minutes
It must have taken some time to come up with the program listing for this year’s Singapore Short Cuts, an annual event jointly organised by the Substation, National Museum and Singapore film commission. Into its fourth season this year, we are fortunate to have a comprehensive and highly commendable lineup. The tongue-in-cheek design of the program booklet gives you a hint of the satire behind some of the pieces.
Featuring some award-winning big players, supporting the aspiring potentials and saluting our nation’s pioneers, this year’s selection shows an acute understanding of the local circuit.
From the subtle metaphors in Boo Junfeng’s Katong Fugue, to stirring silhouettes in Rajendra Gour’s “Sunshine Singapore”, and the emotionally wrenching characters in Sun Koh’s “Bedroom dancing”, be prepared to leave each session with churning thoughts. Sculptured for the discerning, it’s a positive sign perhaps, that we as audiences, have finally come of age.
If you’re hoping to indulge in some sepia-flavored nostalgia, then mark this date down in your books now – 25th August. This time around, the organisers are bringing back a bit of yesteryear with the landmark independent filmmaker Rajendra Gour’s four surviving short films, shot in the 1960s and 1970s. Reflectively positioned in one sitting, you will be able to saturate in the glorious film grains and quirky music of time gone by.
Evident in his works is the straightforward story-telling style that allows you time to leisurely take in the rest of the message. It’d be interesting to note that films at that crucial turning point of our small republic were mainly educational, informative and entertaining. Experimentation was considered commercially risky. But Rajendra Gour’s short films had elements of both. Kudos to the organisers for unearthing these valuable footages.
When we asked the filmmaker, still sprightly at his age, if he thinks the concept of short films have changed over the years, he confidently told us, “The concept of short films does not change. It is the presentation style that can now be different. The subjects that were considered taboo then may have become the norm with the changing times.”
And perhaps it is just that very glimmer of hope we see in Sun Koh’s daring new short. Based on a social headliner, it draws you deeper into the dark side of personal issues, issues many Singaporeans left withering on the shelves of their subconscious for much too long. It is time to pick up the feather duster and choke on the dust.
And listen hard. The seamless weaving of sound and music into the short films strikes gold in this year’s showing. Especially apt in “SuperDONG”, it lent an edge to an already superb piece of work.
Jacen Tan’s “Zo Gang” adds to his collection of 2-hokkien-syllabus short films. Without any big flourishing camera antics, the simple narrative allows the essence of the filmmaker to come through. And isn’t that what short films are about anyway? The message, the essence, the moment.
It is also very encouraging to see a steering away from the usual pool of actors. The few promising new faces have done more than fairly well and their efforts are worth the applause.
One would wonder if the recent focus on the local feature films has overshadowed the progress of the short film circuit here. But as Mr. Gour appropriately puts into perspective, “Today, with digital cameras the films can be cheaper to make, filmmakers are in a better position to take risks. In fact more shorts will be produced as short films open more doors for talents. Transition from a short film to a feature film is a natural developmental process.”
For the ideal tasting of this year’s series of short films, attend all four Saturday sessions. As always the organisers have done well in placing the audiences in close proximity with the filmmakers. There will be a dialogue session with the filmmakers at the end of each session and the addition of the filmmakers’ emails addresses in the booklets is an encouraging sign of increased interaction with the public.
Narrative. Experimental. Retrospective. Whether biting comment or personal moment, each short film is clear about it’s message. They mean serious business.