American filmmaker Craig McTurk has been based in Singapore for 16 years as a Senior Lecturer at Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s School of Film & Media Studies. For the past two years, he’s been working on “The Last Artisan” – a 70-minute documentary focusing on 83-year-old Mr Teo Veoh Seng, the head artisan of Haw Par Villa.
Mr Teo is retiring and passing on his tools and paintbrushes to the next generation. While capturing how he imparts these skills to two young apprentices from China, the documentary also covers the dramatic history of Haw Par Villa and Mr Teo’s eventful life set amidst the rapid development of Singapore.
“I was introduced to Mr Teo through a former student of mine who wrote about him for The Straits Times. He has garnered some press over the years, but never in a long-form documentary film that will portray him at work, at home and celebrating festivities like Chinese New Year and Qing Ming. The film is ultimately more than just about Mr Teo – it explores the transmission of artistic traditions from one generation to another,” says McTurk.