Young people bare their souls for inaugural Smartphone Filmmaking Competition

The first of its kind in Singapore, the Smartphone Filmmaking Competition was launched in February this year.
The first of its kind in Singapore, the Smartphone Filmmaking Competition was launched in February this year.PHOTO: FILMTOGETHER.ORG

SINGAPORE - A boy is seen sobbing as a friend tries to comfort him.

"What's wrong with me? Why do I keep getting bullied? I just want to be normal," said the boy with tears in his eyes.

This was among the scenes in The Race For Inclusion, which won the Best Overall Film award in the Smartphone Filmmaking Competition prize presentation ceremony on Thursday (April 29).

The short story, told by Joshua Pong, 17, and his friends from the Institute of Technical Education College Central, follows a boy with a speech impediment who is being bullied. But, with the help of friends, he learns to overcome his self-esteem issues.

The star in the film, Joshua, said that he was bullied in the past and he wanted audiences to know how a victim felt.

He said: "I didn't want those tears to be superficial, only for the screen. I thought about my past experiences and I really cried at that moment."

The first of its kind in Singapore, the Smartphone Filmmaking Competition was launched in February this year. It is a collaboration between the National Youth Achievement Award Council (NYAA) of Singapore, the High Commission of Canada and Ewing Communications.

Students from five schools - ITE College Central, ITE College East, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, St Joseph's Institution and CHIJ Secondary (Toa Payoh) - received awards for their entries, which revolved around the theme of the competition, "Diversity and Inclusion".

A member of Joshua's team, Philip Chang, 17, said: "Many of our friends and classmates have special needs too, so we wanted to highlight the kind of experience many people with special needs go through."

Find by CHIJ Secondary (Toa Payoh) won the Best Use of Theme award. It is about the experience of a Vietnamese scholar in Singapore who embarks on a journey through time and in the process learns about the positive aspects of her new home.

A member of the team that created the film, To Ngoc My, 15, said: "We based the story on our own experiences, to not only show people how diverse Singapore is to us, but to also allow ourselves to explore Singapore more."

In My Control by ITE College East, which won the Best Creative Entry award, is about a girl with a hearing impairment. She draws strength from her disability by taking advantage of her ability to control her hearing by listening only to the sounds she wants to hear.

Mr Loh Guo Ming, 26, who worked on the film with his team, said: "We wanted to give the audience an idea of what it is like to be born without full hearing ability, so we used editing to highlight her point of view as a person with hearing impairment."

Four other entries received the honourable mentions: Fursona by Ngee Ann Polytechnic, My Class 2N8 by CHIJ Secondary (Toa Payoh), Heart Of Inclusion by St Joseph's Institution and Singapore Is Me by ITE College East.

The winners of the Best Overall Film award, the Best Use of Theme award, the Best Creative Entry award and the Honourable Mention award received cash prizes of $1,000, $800, $500 and $100 respectively. All winning teams also received a citation plaque.

NYAA Council said in a media release: "Smartphones have democratised the art of film-making. It's an intelligent tool to inspire the next generation to share their compelling stories with confidence and convenience. Stories have always been an effective way to create awareness about our young - their issues and aspirations."