A toast to Singapore's lifestyle and culture

A toast to Singapore's lifestyle and culture

Film festival

The third edition of Singapore Film Festival concluded on Sunday. While only 20 films are made in Singapore on an average in a year, the festival showcased three of those films which “Indian audience could relate to”.

“Singapore’s film industry is not a big one. We make only about 20 films in a year, so we didn’t have many films to choose from. We wanted to keep the festival short and sweet by focussing on quality of the films,” Kester Tay, first secretary, High Commission of the Republic of Singapore, told Metrolife.

The festival opened with 7 Letters, an anthology of seven short films by seven of Singapore’s illustrious filmmakers. The film captures each director’s personal and poignant connection with the place. The short films talked about issues like lost love and identity, inter-generational familial bonds and tensions, unlikely neighbours and traditional folklore.

It focuses on how in a country like Singapore, people struggle to find identity and meaning in life.

“As a recently developed country, many in Singapore struggle to find their identity in the fast-paced world. With migrants from all parts of the world, there is no particular culture that Singapore has. The film 7 Letters represents filmmakers’ attempt to capture Singapore’s past and what changes the country has experienced in the past 50 years of its Independence,” added Tay.

According to him, Singapore and India share cultural similarities. Subjects like three generations of families staying together and a rigid society, are common to both

Through Singapore
Minstrel which was screened on the second day, filmmaker Ng Xi Jie tried to tell the value of being a “free spirit” in a country like Singapore.

The 87-minute long film was a personal look at Roy Payamal, an enigmatic figure who is passionate about busking (or street performance, particularly associated with singing or playing music) and has been practising his art amidst an apathetic society.

Often referred to as “high class beggars”, buskers form a very small, yet significant part of Singapore’s population. From people with disabilities to aged men and those who want to relentlessly follow their dreams, busking represents the freedom which many are scared to enjoy in Singapore.

“Busking gives people a means of employment. Many people think that you can’t make a living from busking but if you get a good location and a good act, it is possible. However, many people are not willing to go on the streets to busk because of the established norm to get stable jobs in a society,” said Jie.

The final day of the festival saw screening of three animated films, The Tiger of 142b, The Fat Cat Ate Dad’s Hat and The Great Escape.

“Animation has a very short history in Singapore. It is an evolving industry,” says Tan Wei Keong, director, The Great Escape.

The films, chosen from Singapore Literature Festival, were adapted from original short stories and poetry by the country’s writers. They helped the audience have a deeper understanding about literature and art in Singapore.

Tay said, “We wanted to showcase those aspects of Singapore which were never talked about. As long as people learn something new about Singapore, that it is not a very cold-blooded country, the purpose of this festival is served.”