Being caught in the pandemic has put an indefinite hold on many things within the entertainment industry. With the deconstructed nature of the arts industry in Singapore, artists have grasped at straws, trying to make sense of where they stand now. As borders and safe-distancing measures are slowly opening up, the wheels of producing content have been slowly turning, moving us further to the uncertain future.
Earlier this month, Changi Airport Group (CAG) announced the launch of “Where Dreams Take Flight: Singaporean Short Stories”, a compendium of three short films made by local filmmakers and talents.
Growing up wide-eyed and full of wonder, most of us grew up accustomed to the action-packed and rich-in-subtext films that Western blockbusters tend to portray. Fuelled by the drive to explore life beyond our little red dot, we may have felt crushed when the pandemic prevented such content from being produced.
However, These three short films let us pay homage to what it means to be truly Singaporean by exploring themes like family relationships, social interactions and personal aspirations. The question is, are you willing to take it all in?
Working with local filmmakers to craft Singaporean short stories
Many artists and critics have suggested that Singapore has no place for the arts. However, I would like to argue that Singapore has yet to provide nurturing opportunities which young artists need to explore, fail in and grow from, to create work that fulfils their artistic beliefs and emotionally stimulates their audience.
Introducing Eysham Ali, Kathleen Bu, Li Kayue and Zon Chan, these young filmmakers showcased their respective individual styles of creativity to present a fresh outlook on the interactions at Changi Airport in their films. Armed with their own creative directions and unique abilities, their award-winning local mentors Li Lin Wee and Huang Junxiang guided them to weave the intricate lived experiences of Changi Airport, with both mentors having previously worked with CAG on projects like the “SG50 I’m Home” video.
“I was excited to jump onboard the project because Changi Airport is so iconic and representative of so many aspects of what makes Singapore, Singapore. As a site of connectivity, I found it poignant that the airport was trying to connect young filmmakers to the rest of the world during COVID-19 – that spirit really captures what makes Changi Airport such a special place,” Huang Junxiang shared.
Auntie Oh Lives In Your Memories
“Auntie Oh Lives In Your Memories” by Kathleen Bu shines light on the spontaneous social interactions of real life, which many of us miss. Told through a whimsical lens, Auntie Oh works in Changi Airport’s Baggage Claim division and discovers the hidden stories of passengers’ abandoned luggage.
Of the three films, Kathleen’s is the first to premiere, having debuted at the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) 2021 in December. Watch it below!
Kathleen Bu is a graduate from Ngee Ann Polytechnic Film, Sound & Video in 2019, with her thesis film Lady E’s Wedding Revenge Plan (2019) being awarded Best Live Action, Director & Editing at Singapore’s National Youth Film Awards 2020. Additionally, the film was also part of the HonourSG initiative, which she had been a part of previously.
This is Kathleen’s first independent short film, which is the fruition of her mentorship programme in partnership with Changi Airport Group. Onto her next production, Kathleen is making a horror short, White Shadow (2021), under SCAPE’s Film Facilitation Programme, mentored by award-winning Malaysian filmmaker Bradley Liew.
“Last Call” by Eysham Ali is a film about the intricacies and textured layers of relationships, love and regret. The film follows Yusuf, a father who misses his flight to attend his daughter’s wedding overseas. Nadia, a new airport ground staff member, is tasked to help Yusuf get on the next available flight. His film will premiere in January 2022, but you can get a taste with this teary trailer.
Eysham Ali’s 2011 film, Thieves, was part of the official selection for the Asian Short Film Competition at the 2011 Busan International Film Festival (BIFF). His most recent short film, Builders (2016), also made the official selection for SGIFF 2016.
After landing a spot in the Asian Film Academy of the 16th BIFF in 2011, he was awarded the BFC & SHOCS Scholarship Fund Award. With his strong belief and passion for storytelling, Eysham believes that his job as a storyteller is deconstructing life and reconstructing it back to the cinema.
“VuJa De” by Li Kayue & Zon Chan brings to life a poetic journey of experiencing something familiar as if it were unknown through the juxtaposition between Changi Airport and three individuals who are all experiencing a similar period of uncertainty in their lives.
The film explores a fresh perspective amid emptiness, presenting a glimmer of hope for the next day and a sense of reversion towards the familiar once again. Through this film, Li Kayue aims to relate a sense of longing and hope in a period of trying times, which will premiere in February 2022.
Li Kayue is a multi-faceted filmmaker and director of photography whose work spans across cinematography, writing and directing. He is a consecutive recipient of the Best Picture Award at the National Youth Film Awards Singapore for his films Bangla (2018) and Foul Ball (2019).
His partner, Zon Chan, is a Singapore-based multifaceted filmmaker with a love for fashion, music and art.
For Zon, filmmaking is an instrument for him to participate in a symbiotic conversation with various audiences. His blend of creative treatment and cinematographic vision exhibits unorthodox and inventive audiovisual experiences that connect in a unique way. Recently, he co-directed a short film, Bridget, which has been officially selected for the 44th Asian American International Festival and Rochester LGBT Film Festival 2021, and Minikino Film Festival 2021 in Bali.
Gliding towards the unknown
As the world begins to open up after a long period of restrictions, CAS hopes that the trio of short films will help reignite everyone’s desires to travel again with stories of familial relationships, social interactions, and personal aspirations. Li Lin Wee adds,“It is energising and inspiring to work with young filmmakers, to hear their story ideas and help them through the process of bringing the films to fruition.”
Be sure to check out their official website to see more information about the collaboration and also show your support.
Wherever the wind blows in this strange yet wonderful world we live in, it is up to us artists to create work that guides our audience back to living life in the present. In such turbulent times, films speak to us in a way that other content cannot.
Visuals courtesy of Changi Airport Group.