Royston Tan and team put on weight while making film about local food

In the year that film-maker Royston Tan and his team of directors - Debe Hoo, Alvin Lee and Boi Kwong - worked on the film Old Friends, the quartet collectively put on more than 11kg.

"I'm a foodie, and I like to eat a lot of food, especially fattening stuff," says Tan, 38, with a laugh.

"For example, when we went to shoot the segment on bak kwa, the uncle gave us I don't know how many kilos of it, and we just kept eating."

Tan's work, which was commissioned for an undisclosed amount, is a mouth-watering chronicle of the relationship between Singaporeans and their favourite hawker haunts. It is the headline film of Rewind/Remind, the first film festival under the Singapore Memory Project, which started in 2011.

The project, which is driven by the Ministry of Communications and Information and led by the National Library Board, aims to collect and preserve memories and moments related to Singapore.

Rewind/Remind, which was launched at the National Library Building on Saturday by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Communications and Information Lawrence Wong, features 11 films in total. Apart from Tan's film, the rest each received up to $50,000 in funding.

They will be screened for free, in groups of two to four films, at the National Library and five public libraries from now until mid-July.

At the launch of the event, Mr Wong said in a speech: "Heritage is the soul of our society, it is what gives our nation character, and it is what gives our people, all of us, a sense of belonging... These are captured in the memories of our neighbourhoods, or the people we live and work with, and it is for this reason that we started the Singapore Memory Project."

Tan's film - the only commission of the festival, which held an open call for entries - is a rojak of 49 bite-sized segments on different hawker stalls, and the relationships that Singaporeans develop with these hawkers and their food.

It is replete with lovingly shot close-ups of thick, bubbling soups, springy noodles and glistening braised meats, an approach which Tan says is intentional.

"We all have different approaches when we collect our stories, but we tried to have a collective filming technique, which was to try to make the food look very intimate, so when they audience watch it, they will feel super hungry" he says.

Another film which will be featured in the festival is Centrepoint Kidz, by film-maker Wee Li Lin.

The short film follows the initiation of nerdy schoolgirl Meishi into a fashionable Centrepoint kids clique. The kids were groups of youth who would hang out at The Centrepoint mall in Orchard Road in the 1980s.

They were widely viewed as a public nuisance and stereotyped as delinquents who would shoplift, glue-sniff and get into scuffles with one another.

Wee, 41, saw them differently. "There was the perception that they were a kind of a stain on the youth culture of Singapore," she says. "I went to Singapore Chinese Girls' School, and life was very dull. But when you went to Centrepoint, and you saw them in their colours and their outfits, they represented this freedom, creativity, they represented everything that we couldn't be."

In her work, she re-creates the vibrant, outlandish fashions of that time, as well as the breakdancing culture and cliquish nature of the groups.

Other films featured in the festival include Kway Chap by film-maker Sun Koh, a documentary which traces the history of her parents' kway chap hawker stall, and The Violin by producer and animation director Ervin Han, which follows the journey of a violin as it gets passed from person to person, against the backdrop of a rapidly developing Singapore.

Free screenings are held at libraries throughout the island from now until July 19. For the full schedule and to register, go to

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