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.