Slice of life in 15 short films

Among the 15 film-makers who signed on for the short film project are (above, from left) Kelvin Tong, K. Rajagopal, Sean Ng and Chong Yu Lun.
Among the 15 film-makers who signed on for the short film project are (from left) Kelvin Tong, K. Rajagopal, Sean Ng and Chong Yu Lun.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Film-makers will show real stories from the 1970s to the 1990s of Singaporeans who inspire giving and volunteerism

Videos of Singaporeans behaving shamefully, such as the recent one with a couple's brush with an elderly man at a Toa Payoh hawker centre over a seat, need an antidote.

So say the organisers of a short film project created to show real stories of Singaporeans acting in ways that will inspire giving and volunteerism.

At a press conference yesterday, Jeffrey Tan, 40, a director with the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre, the organisation behind the film project, said: "There are so many negative videos out there right now. Almost a million Singaporeans have seen the video about the Toa Payoh couple. What we are doing here is to show that kindness comes from simple acts."

Fifteen film-makers have signed on for the project. They include established players such as Eric Khoo (Mee Pok Man, 1995), Kelvin Tong (It's A Great, Great World, 2011), K. Rajagopal (A Yellow Bird, 2016), Boo Junfeng (Apprentice, 2016) and Kirsten Tan (Pop Aye, 2017).

Up-and-coming film-makers including Sean Ng, 28, and Chong Yu Lun, 25, who have yet to release a feature film, have also been enlisted. Their brief is to bring to life a true story from the 1970s to the 1990s, in a film that is between five and 10 minutes in length.

The 15 short films are scheduled to be released online and on traditional platforms from June till the end of next year.

K. Rajagopal, 51, said that he is looking into a story that was revealed in archival research, about an Indian woman who ran a barbershop in Little India in a time when it was not considered proper for a woman to do so. Her business not only thrived, she also helped a business rival's family when they ran into difficulties.

Producer Daniel Yun and Ms Melissa Kwee, chief executive of the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre, talked about how, in keeping with the theme of the project, funding for it will be raised without the help from the usual government-linked sources.

Mr Yun said: "We want to involve corporations and foundations, and individual Singaporeans, through our crowd-funding site."

A tax-deductible contribution can be made at www.giving.sg/campaigns/15shortfilms.

All donations will go towards the project, which targets to raise $50,000.

Mr Yun was asked how he might avoid a situation similar to the one faced by Project Lapis Sagu, a short film project promoting local foreigner cohesion.

Khoo's horror-tinged film for the project was not released due to fears that it might offend foreigners, metaphorically depicted as zombies.

Mr Yun said he was confident that despite the project's open-ended brief, its message of positivity will steer the directors on the right path. "Religion, for example, is a sensitive topic. But if we talk about it from a positive angle, it should be okay."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 29, 2017, with the headline 'Slice of life in 15 short films'. Print Edition | Subscribe