Local Films

The 10th Singapore Short Cuts is here again. It’s an annual showcase of experimental, short films by aspiring Singapore filmmakers. I’ve been a faithful follower of the local film-making scene and have watched it grown for its earliest infancy to what it is today. But a funny thing has been happening recently. I haven’t been able to get tickets to watch the films since last year!

I was at the National Museum ticket counter last weekend to get tickets for this coming Saturday’s screening. And you guess right, they were all taken! Yep, no kidding. And there I was, surprised and flabbergasted saying to the museum staff; “But the ticket distribution starts today right?”. “I’m sorry, ma’am but the tickets are all out” came the apologetic reply. So within the space of 3 hours since the museum opened, there must have been a stampede from all over the island for the tickets, way before you could even finish saying” Speedy Gonzales”! It got me thinking, why is there such a sudden surge of interest in local films? I remember in the early years, late-nineties thereabouts where no one bothered to see Singapore-made films. So much so that organizers have to resort to giving away free tickets (a practice they still maintain) to entice audience to catch locally-made films. The early film-makers have it tough in those days as no commercial cinema wanted to screen their films so a lot of them have to resort to art venues like The Substation, the National Museum and the Singapore International Film Festival. It was normal to find largely empty halls whenever a local film was being screened. And it was at these screenings that I discovered the hidden talents of local film-makers like Royston Tan, Victric Thng, Eric Khoo and Tan Pin Pin; all of whom are very successful film-makers in their own right and have their films showcased and have won awards at prestigious film festivals like Cannes.

So maybe it’s a snob thing. Singaporeans are generally a snobby lot and we don’t appreciate our local talents until they have been judged and been critically acclaimed overseas. Or could it be there is a new appreciation to discover who or what we are as a people and nation. I would like to think this is the real reason. So instead of feeling peeved that I have been unable to get tickets to the films, I should be glad that more people are taking a genuine interest in Singapore films.

There’s only 1 more week left before the final screening of the Singapore Short Cuts season. Which means I have to be at the National Museum when the doors open at 10 am this Saturday if I want to get my hands on a ticket. Do I have a choice?

And a note to the organizers – Please start charging for the films.

  1. Dianne

    I must confess I ain’t a fan to the local film scene like my 2 seniors but boy! was I lucky and honoured to watch Haze (by award-winning director Anthony Chen & screened at Berlin Film Fest plus a few others this year) and Dreams of a Youth (also filmed by Anthony) in Central Library Theatrette 1 two days ago. Must say am very impressed and Anthony has really changed my impression about Singapore films! :p

  2. Yah, I caught Haze over the weekend at National Museum too! Anthony Chen was there at the screening session – came across as a very modest, down to earth kinda guy. There’s a lot of exciting things happening on the local indie cinema circuit. Apart from Jack Neo (who by the way is undeserving of the Cultural Medallion!), the current crop of local film-makers aren’t afraid of taking risks and explore unchartered territories 🙂

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