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© Jack at Wikipedia/Flickr
© Jack at Wikipedia/Flickr
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What They’re Watching In Singapore Fall 2016

Picture of Prianka Ghosh
Updated: 28 September 2016
The Singapore film industry has come a long way since becoming an independent city-state in 1965. For many years, strict censorship laws prevented Singaporean directors from creating an accurate portrayal of the stories that were important to them. However, Singapore’s growing independent film scene is undeniable as 2016 sees Singapore host a veritable goldmine of film festivals that invite both local and international directors to share their stories. This year started on a high note with Jack Neo’s Long Long Time Ago, a nostalgic dark comedy that follows a family as they make the transition from kampong to HDB, and Gary Goh’s 4 Love, an anthology of four short films depicting the stages of love.

My Love Sinema

Set in 1950s Singapore, My Love Sinema is a heart-wrenching life story of a cinema projectionist and his unwavering love for a director. The film is inspired by the Italian film, Cinema Paradiso, where an aspiring filmmaker discovers an unfulfilled love story and tries to reunite the estranged lovers. My Love Sinema opens with Mai, an acclaimed film director, being interviewed as they attempt to find Kheong, a projectionist and the man who started Mai’s passion for film four decades earlier.

The Songs We Sang

Released earlier in the year, this documentary about Xinyao is still making waves with fans of Singaporean cinema and historical culture buffs alike. Xinyao, which translates to ‘songs of Singapore’ from Mandarin, is a style of Singaporean folk music that was popular in the 1980s. Eva Tang wants the younger generation to remember the forgotten history of Singapore when music led the revolution for the diaspora of Chinese youths who struggled in the face of cultural and educational changes.

Chennai 2 Singapore

Chennai 2 Singapore is produced by the Media Development Authority of Singapore and it is the first collaborative effort between the Tamil and Singaporean film industries. The Tamil-language film is a romantic comedy that follows Harish, an aspiring filmmaker, who hopes to find investment for his film in Singapore. As is typical for the genre, Harish has Vaanampaadi, a Singaporean cameraman, as a trusty sidekick to help him out of unlucky situations, and then he meets a girl and everything goes south. Listen for the soundtrack which was composed by Mohamaad Ghibran as he took a road trip of his own following the same route as Harish from Chennai through Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and finally arriving in Singapore.

Apprentice

The use of capital punishment in Singapore has long been a controversial issue, however, Apprentice looks at the issue under a new light; from the point of view of the executioner. The film follows a young prison officer, Sergeant Aiman, who has recently been transferred to a maximum security prison. While working there, he develops a close bond with a senior official, Senior Chief Warder Rahim. Rahim takes a fatherly liking to Aiman as their relationship develops, however, Aiman chooses not to disclose crucial facts about his past with his friend and mentor. This moving portrayal of a young man struggling with a dark past and the bright possibilities of the future was chosen as Singapore’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards.

A Yellow Bird

Critically acclaimed Singaporean filmmaker K. Rajagopal has seen considerable success directing short films. He won the Special Jury Prize at the Singapore Film Festival for three consecutive years starting in 1995. Now K. Rajagopal is making his debut feature-length film with A Yellow Bird. The film follows Siva who has just been released from prison after serving an eight-year sentence for smuggling controlled substances. The happiness of freedom quickly turns sour as he learns that his mother will not forgive him and his ex-wife and daughter have left him. As he tries to pick up the pieces of his life, he turns to an unlikely person for comfort. Earlier this year, the film was selected to screen at the prestigious La Semaine de la Critique, part of the Cannes Film Festival.