Every now and then the world finds a new visionary, one with an eye for beauty and story, a vision to entertain and even educate. And it is through the magic of film festivals like Viddsee’s that the dreams of these visionaries unknown can be broadcast to the world at large.
As Viddsee Juree judge, and local filmmaker Wee Li Lin says, “I think film festivals are very important as they give exposure and confidence to indie filmmakers and also a chance to see other films from all over the world and be inspired by them. It’s hard to make contacts face to face now as many festivals are still in the virtual realm but the friendships and connections formed at film festivals are very special. It’s not so much about commerce (like say a film mart) but more about celebrating the art form and the stories and characters shown. When one’s film is shown, the best part [in my opinion] is the Q&A, getting a chance to discuss your films and hear the other filmmakers discuss theirs.”
Such is the service of Viddsee’s Juree to the audience of the world. In the recent week we’ve had the opportunity to watch some of the entries in this festival, and speak with the creators of some of our favourite films.
In the Chinese dialect of Hokkien, “Kua Bo” stands for “cannot see”. Affected by cataract, 60-year-old Tat Chuan has problems with his vision which he refuses to admit or treat. It is only after a huge blunder of seeing the lottery results wrongly that he willingly – but timidly – attends a cataract surgery.
Says director Ang Qing Sheng, “The biggest inspiration for me for this film is my father. I remember that he had to attend a cataract surgery but was not so comfortable with surgical procedures in general. I am also inspired by the people around me – my family, relatives and neighbourhood. I pay attention to the culture, language and little stories shared by them, and all these influenced the film.
“The screenplay took a while – I started writing it in 2016, but left it on the shelf until 2018 where I had the chance to be funded by LASALLE and IMDA to make the film. As the dialogue were in the original language spoken by the characters – mostly Hokkien dialect – I needed to write and consult my family. It was a fun experience!”
Kua Bo offers an entertaining, if not amusing, look at the twilight years of a Singaporean seeking to not just live life as per usual, but also strike it rich.
A determined teen secretly helps her recently-widowed grandmother reconnect with the world via the invention of a companion bot.
Yin Chi is a 16 year-old student who dreams of a future where she is able to improve the lives of her loved ones. In this docu-drama hybrid, she talks about how she used her coding skills to help her grandmother alleviate her loneliness after her grandfather’s death, via the creation of a communicative bot, Pengyou. Still in its prototype phase, she looks forward to the day Pengyou can help many isolated elderly and make sure that no one gets left behind.
Even despite the somewhat melancholic plot of an elderly person dealing with loss and loneliness, Pengyou offers a refreshing note of hopefulness.
Cik Leha is a timid makcik (middle-aged Malay lady) who was chosen to be a social distancing ambassador during the Circuit Breaker period. She takes her job too seriously, enforcing rules on top of rules on everyone in her block. The residents soon come to dislike her and her arch nemesis Mr. Tan schemes to make both her job and life miserable.
As director Nurain and set decorator/story originator Nur Arinah put it, “[1m Apart’s] concept was based on Singapore’s local TV dramas/shows that we believed showcased a strong theme of family, harmony and unity between citizens and the adaptation of Wes Anderson’s unique film style to emulate a heartwarming yet unique film for the audience.
“The overall journey in completing the screenplay was rather challenging as we had to cut down the script which means cutting on the characters that appeared in the story. And also, brainstorming scenarios based on what we see on the news/ social media during the circuit breaker period while adding the comedic elements to the story. “
1m Apart’s actually my personal favourite (from what we’ve caught), but there is clearly an abundance of talent in this competition, and it’s definitely worth your time to watch what you can.