Free film screenings to open ciNE65's inaugural festival in June

Creators of My Homeland, a short film in the running for ciNE65's Audience Choice Awards - Favourite Film Category: (From left) Alvin Jai, 20, Jastine Tan, 21, Rebecca Fletcher, 21, and Asher Wu, 20. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

SINGAPORE - When Mr Eugene Voo's grandfather died, he inherited a treasured collection of film cameras, more than 50 lens filters and multiple rolls of undeveloped film.

The 21-year-old was told the rolls of film likely contained his grandfather's shots of Singapore in the Sixties to Eighties. But the rolls were severely degraded and could no longer be developed. The shots and the stories they tell, just like the time periods they captured, will forever remain a mystery to him.

Mr Voo shared his story with six friends and it was to inspire a three-minute film:My Homeland, which has been nominated for the Audience Choice Awards - Favourite Film Category at this year's ciNE65's short film competition.

It is among seven short films nominated for the award and all will be screened at the inaugural ciNE65 Festival 2019 from 5th to 9th June 2019, said Mr Psalm Lew, 42, director of community engagement at Nexus on Tuesday (May 28).

Nexus, a Defence Ministry's department responsible for total defence and national education, launched the biennial competition in 2011 to harness short films to capture the Singaporean identity.

The theme for this year's films is Singapura, in line with the Singapore Bicentennial.

The group of film-makers for My Homeland are fresh graduates of Temasek Polytechnic who had done its Digital Film and Television course.

One of them is Mr Jastine Tan, 21, who said that after hearing Mr Voo's story, "we started thinking about what could have happened if his grandfather was still alive. Would both go on photography adventures together?"

Imagining they would, the film follows a young man who returns to Singapore from his overseas ventures on hearing that his grandfather is dying. They use the same film camera to shoot photographs that depict their ideas - invariably different- of what Singapore means to them.

The young man embodies the younger generation of Singaporeans, Mr Tan said. He had gone overseas in search of greener pastures but on returning home and seeing his grandfather's photographs of him, he was reminded of the people he had left behind.

"We forget what rooted us in our own country" Mr Tan told The Straits Times on Tuesday.

Other films showcasing the Singaporean identity will be screened as well at the festival, said Mr Lew.

Another nominee for the Audience Choice Awards is Echoes of 1965, a film by six students from Canberra Secondary School's Digital Media in Visual Arts Club. They are the youngest to compete for the award.

It features older Singaporeans recounting their growing up years under the leadership of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's founding Prime Minister.

Secondary Three students Andrea Fababeir, 14, and Sivesh Sivaganesh, 15, two of the filmmakers, said the main takeaways from the film are the stories of "kampung spirit" and inter-racial friendship.

Andrea said the tales encourage people to be more accepting of others while Sivesh hopes they will be more aware and respectful of older Singaporeans and their values.

People may cast their votes for the Audience Choice Awards on the ciNE65 website. The closing date is on 11 June and the winners will be announced on 13 June at the ciNE65 Awards Ceremony.

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