Driving Positive Social Change – Spotlighting Our Favourite STOREYS8 min readReading Time: 6 minutes
Launched in June 2019, STOREYS is a ground-up initiative spearheaded by CreativesAtWork and supported by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA). The primary aim of STOREYS is to harness the power of social media and storytelling, while creating a partnership to shed light on issues that are close to every Singaporean’s heart and spirit.
After a nationwide call for submissions, the team behind STOREYS received 201 concept submissions, after which they shortlisted 30 concepts and settled on 15 to be produced into short films. The shortlisted content creators behind the top 15 concepts were also partnered with three award-winning mentors (Josiah Ng, Nas and Diogo Martins) to help elevate their creations. Having followed this project for almost a year, we at Sinema.SG are excited to spotlight our favourites, in no particular order!
Watch all 15 short films from the STOREYS series here.
Who stole Tua Pek Kong? – A Lovable Community Exposé
Director: Goh Ying Sheng
Cast: Sandy Lu, Patricia Seow, See Wei Boon, Muthusamy Lingam, Hazim Saini
Runtime: 10 Minutes
Directed by Goh Ying Sheng, Who Stole Tua Pek Kong (WSTPK) is set amidst the much loved hustle and bustle of our local hawker centres. It is filmed in a documentary style with a handheld camera as different members of the estate community are interviewed in an attempt to figure out who stole the idol of the deity.
Before watching this short film, I was not expecting much from it. I was led astray by the seemingly simple set-up and thought I was not going to be excited. However, I cracked my first smile about a minute into the film and I knew I was about to be pleasantly surprised.
What makes WSTPK so special is its authentic celebration of the diversity around us. The characters are extremely archetypal, which is the biggest win of the film as it does not attempt to force the racial harmony message upon its viewers. Instead, each character is allowed to be its true stereotypical self and the endearing familiarity that the audience feels is, in fact, the strongest message of racial harmony and tolerance. This tongue-in-cheek portrayal is what makes WSTPK stand out from the rest.
The Coffin Club – An Introduction to Unfamiliar Territory
Director: Jonathan Yong
Cast: Peter Yu, Jolene Wong, Benjamin Josiah Tan
Runtime: 14 Minutes
The Coffin Club (TCC) is a short film that is inspired by an actual club where people build their own coffins in New Zealand. Following the story of Ting, TCC tackles the taboo topic of death and attempts to navigate the minefield of dealing with the morbidity of the subject matter. Giving you more plot details will spoil the film as it is best approached blind to properly travel with the film.
Director Jonathan Yong is the brains behind TCC as he takes the audience on a gripping visual journey with his convincing sets and characters, even though this premise is entirely foreign to the Singaporean context. The unique selling points of TCC are its visuals – how Yong and his art team have prepared a set (where majority of the film is shot) that is extremely believable while ensuring his talents are not inhibited by space, a goal that Yong and his team aimed for from the beginning.
TCC makes it onto the list due to its very unique and attention-grabbing premise. It takes a certain guts and crazy to introduce a new concept in a full feature film, let alone a short film. It does not have the tried and tested formula of familiarity to fall back on but still successfully captures the raw emotions that come with dealing with death, especially when that death comes early on in life.
Sugee Cake – A Celebration of Culture and Death
Director: Anshul Tiwari
Cast: Mel Ferdinands, Bridget Fernandez, Renay Shandu, Kymberly Naushad, Cindy Berlandier
Runtime: 12 Minutes
Speaking of death, Sugee Cake might just be my favourite on this list. Following Francis, a new widow, the film puts forth the notion that the elderly can be mobile and independent after losing a spouse and is a gentle reminder to the younger ones in the family to be supportive rather than dismissive about their grief.
Sugee Cake celebrates the Eurasian community in Singapore and spotlights their traditions by picking an entirely Eurasian caste and offering a window into their way of life. Director Anshul Tiwari successfully juxtaposes life and death with a simple, no frills approach. Set entirely in a humble HDB home, the characters are allowed to be the main driving force in the film.
While TCC tackled death in an uncharted fashion, Sugee Cake draws on the familiarity of death and grief to make its point. Despite the biggest limitation of a short film being its lack of time, the characters in the film nevertheless grew on me. When the film ended, I was left wishing there was more and I was not quite ready to part with them, just yet.
A Tale of Two Kitties – A Simple Visual Treat
Director: Joe Peter
Art: Terence Koh
Runtime: 4 Minutes 50 Seconds
A Tale of Two Kitties (ATTK) is the shortest but the most technically impressive film on this list. In under five minutes, it tugs at our heartstrings and makes us connect with two animated cats, who suffer from repeated displacement. Highlighting rapid modernisation and how our country’s development inevitably encroaches on the habitat of other life forms, ATTK is a much needed conversation.
The partnership between director, writer and producer Joe Peter and artist Terence Koh translates on screen, in the form of visual art with an impactful message. ATTK is illustrated entirely in monochrome with no dialogue. What helps set the mood and tone are beautiful but realistic drawings supplemented with true-to-life background sounds and music. The film draws you into its world and convinces you that it is real.
I enjoyed how succinct ATTK was. Peter is focused enough to keep it short, while allowing the visuals to speak for itself. You don’t need to be a cat person to find ATTK moving or powerful. You just need some compassion in your heart.
Uncle Goose Waits for a Phonecall – A Quirky, Heartwarming Surprise
Director: Kew Lin
Cast: Chen Shu Cheng
Runtime: 15 Minutes
Uncle Goose Waits for a Phonecall (UGWP) tells the story of Goose and how he tirelessly waits for a phone call from his long lost friend, through an old NEC brand telephone from the 1980s. Sprinkled with nostalgia, this film pays homage to the seniors who live their life without the influence of technology and how they navigate modern-day problems, in spite of it.
Goose is played by actor Chen Shu Cheng who single handedly drives this film forward. He has almost no interactions with other characters and performs this short film almost like a monologue. However, he never fails to be engaging and commands the attention of the audience at all times. How director Kew Lin nails his casting with Chen in the lead is the biggest asset to this film.
UGWP is another film that I did not think I would enjoy as it felt unfamiliar to me. However, after watching it, I realised that no matter what one’s age is, we all have a desire to feel connected to the world and our loved ones. I thoroughly enjoyed how unapologetically quirky Goose is – which is an accurate reflection of the seniors around us that we love and adore.
STOREYS serves as a good reminder to be as open-minded as possible when approaching films. True to its mission of celebrating all things Singaporean, STOREYS consciously provides valuable insights into various social issues around us. We at Sinema.SG eagerly await their next venture.
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