By Melanie Lee
SHORT FILMS ON LOCAL HERITAGE
Published on 22 October 2017
With Singapore’s growing interest in heritage and local films, it’s not surprising to know that a Singapore Heritage Short Film Competition (HSFC) exists! In fact, the Singapore Film Society (SFS) has been running this competition for four years with the support from the National Heritage Board.
HSFC aims to encourage young and young-at-heart filmmakers to make works pertaining to Singapore’s heritage, By undergoing extensive historical research such as searching for archival images, or doing or extracting oral history interviews, these filmmakers, in turn, will be creating valuable documentation of Singapore’s collective heritage for future generations.
“This year, we did not have a theme for the competition, and were pleasantly surprised by the variety of themes submitted, as well as some entries which veered slightly away from the conventional documentary presentation,” says Heritage Programme Director of SFS, Chew Keng Kiat.
The prize-giving ceremony was just held in September. Winning entries include “One Track Mind”, a documentary about five men wanting to build Singapore’s first model railway museum, and “One Last Line”, a film which follows the last of Singapore’s sustenance fishermen.
Teachers Heather Teo and Victor Gan (both pictured above) won the Top Prize of the OPEN Category with their film “Old of Things”. It is a short documentary that follows the life of Yee Geok Eng, a resident of the now-empty Dakota Crescent estate, as she grapples with the concepts of home and memory.
For Teo, 24, it was her first foray into film as co-director and co-producer of this production. Yee, the protagonist in this film, is actually her aunt.
“I shared the news with my aunt about our win and she is very happy too!” she says.
For the both of them, studying overseas made them more interested in local heritage and how ‘old things’ in Singapore are perceived in this fast-paced, ever-changing city.
“The film may be just about an individual resident and a single space, but it’s also a monument to all the spaces of memory that have quietly become forgotten histories,” Teo explains.
According to Gan, 26, they had started on this project even before the open call for HSFC was announced.
“We always thought that this story of disappearing heritage was worth telling, and HSFC was the perfect stage for us. We are very happy that the judges liked our film and our film has found its audience,” he says.
FREE PUBLIC SCREENINGS
Curious about these winning heritage short films? There will be free screenings this November at the following places:
There will also be a post-screening Q&A with the filmmakers of one of the films after each screening.