Together Apart film anthology creates a buzz

The directors of the three films, together with the winners of the Project Lapis Sagu online contest and Minister Grace Fu (centre), at the media preview at Shaw Lido theatre yesterday. On the extreme left is Ms Karen Tan, senior director of the Mini
The directors of the three films, together with the winners of the Project Lapis Sagu online contest and Minister Grace Fu (centre), at the media preview at Shaw Lido theatre yesterday. On the extreme left is Ms Karen Tan, senior director of the Ministry of Communications and Information.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

It was a night to remember for three local directors and some members of the public as they watched their movies go live last night.

Each one, part of the Together Apart film anthology, tells a story about the issues that Singaporeans face in living alongside foreigners.

The movies are part of Project Lapis Sagu, which takes its name from the multi-layered dessert and holds it up as a symbol of integration and tolerance. The movies were produced based on ideas submitted by the public in an online contest,which attracted over 1,200 entries.

In her opening address, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu referred to the name of the project and said it should remind Singaporeans of how they are "culturally diverse yet integrated".

After the screening at the Shaw Lido theatre to around 250 people last night, there was a buzz as viewers were heard discussing their own experiences of social integration at school and at work.

The three films in the collection were directed by Kelvin Tong, K. Rajagopal and Sanif Olek.

Sanif's film, The Manifest, is set hundreds of years in the future, in space. It explores tensions between a Singaporean space engineer and a naturalised citizen, who are on a critical mission. National serviceman Thomas Goh, who submitted the theme, said yesterday it felt very satisfying to watch the final product.

Sanjay, the Rajagopal film, touches on the struggles of a young couple who have just migrated here from India. The theme was submitted by digital film student Sean Loo.

Tong's B.M.T. (Beijing, Mumbai, Tampines) examines the national service experience shared by Singaporeans and naturalised citizens - who have poignantly similar conversations with their mothers. The theme was submitted by medical student Alvona Loh.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Communications and Information said it did not have any plans for the film that was directed by Eric Khoo for the anthology but was later pulled. The musical theatre-style film depicted foreigners as zombies around a human Singaporean.

The films in Together Apart are available online at www.lapis-sagu.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2017, with the headline 'Together Apart film anthology creates a buzz'. Print Edition | Subscribe