People, Spaces, and Memories — These Films Are A Celebration Of A Nation
National Day is here, and though after today the red-and-white flags might soon disappear off the walls of our high-rise HDB blocks and its iconic songs might stop playing on the radio stations, the sentiment behind the celebration isn’t going anywhere.
It is a day for remembering and understanding, for reminiscing and looking forward. It is a day to commemorate the people who have made this land their home, and to express our spirits and identities as Singaporeans.
These short films do just that. Through the use of common spaces and memories, these films capture the essence of National Day by showcasing the lives of everyday people — people who are connected in more ways than one; people who have their roots nested in the same home.
Here is a celebration of these films:
A National Day Special: For Your 54th
By Not Safe For TV (NSFTV)
In For Your 54th, a man named Sam narrates his story and experiences with a woman called Siti, who lives in the same block.
The film is crafted like a love letter, or a diary entry that’s not really meant to be exposed to the public eye. Throughout the 3-minute runtime of this short, the camera never really shifts from its fixed position. Instead, it transports us into the setting of their story itself while their past plays out in front of us, in snapshots of little moments in a place they both call home.
We are invited as observers to their memories, not as active participants. There’s little, if any, emotions to be seen from our vantage point away from their lives, and we are not given the license to glimpse beyond their closed doors. Despite this physical distance, we’re still listening to a weary old man’s bedtime tales, and though his is a personal experience that we are not privy to, the familiar backdrop makes his story all the more nostalgic and transportative.
And it is, indeed, relatable. To anyone who has ever lived in a HDB apartment, the familiar corridor and void deck are the spaces where we have lived, and where the important moments of our lives are held at.
These memories, like the HDB block, are always there — even when we’re gone, these memories remain in the spaces that we’ve lived in, and they continue to exist as echoes of bygones that we hold close to our hearts, no matter how much time has passed.
Watch For Your 54th here:
By Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR)
A grandfather and grandson, Osman and Mikhail, strive to recapture past memories by fixing an old camera.
Just like NSFTV’s National Day film, this film is doused in nostalgia. Everything, from the desaturated, almost faded colours of the set and the flickering, staticky camera footage, to the old-school neighbourhood tech stores that the grandfather-grandson duo visits and the karang-guni that helps them, is a fond look back into a cherished past.
It is a heartwarming sight to see Osman and Mikhail working together in search for old parts that might fix their old camera. There is no way to replicate these memories, and for people of different generations, reminiscing familiar, though different, experiences, is a way to reconnect and bridge their two worlds.
Once again, the past is transportative, sentimental, and symbolic. It is simple and warm, and the fond remembrance of these nostalgic events are ultimately what ties us to one another, as one family.
Watch Repair here:
“Even though so much has changed, these are places that remain,
Moments that made me who I am today.”
The world is expanding as it becomes more interconnected, and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone these days who hasn’t been overseas. In Return is a spotlight on Singaporeans all over the world; those whose dreams have taken them beyond the waters of our little island, and those overseas who are bound for home.
The film presents the stories of three Singaporeans — national para-swimmer Toh Wei Soong, arts theatre scholar Shaza Ishak, and medical volunteer Dr. Kumaran Rasappan. Their experiences are shown through snippets of their journey back in Singapore, across familiar sights and familiar people, and though these intimate scenes are close to our hearts, the real showstopper here is its original score.
Sung by national siblings Benjamin and Narelle Kheng, the song is full of sentimentality and love. Just as how a fallen leaf always returns to its roots, people who have left will always find their way back to where they came from. Through the slow, aching melody and lyrics, the song captures the bittersweet of returning home, after years of being away.
Watch In Return here: