By Tan Ying-Yan
If you are looking for respite from all things Crazy Rich Asians, including Henry Golding fan fiction, try another made-in-Asia film, The Drum.
Directed by homegrown film-maker Ler Jiyuan and co-written by Singapore novelist Dave Chua, the short film tells a riveting and tender if somewhat offbeat story about a retiree in his 60s, who is dealing with the onset of a later-life crisis and comes into possession of his ex-tenant’s tabla, a traditional Indian drum.
The work recently took Gold at the inaugural short film awards by Viddsee, a Singapore-based curated video platform started in 2013, and with a billion views since.
The 25 min film was originally commissioned for Silver Arts 2016, a festival organised by the National Arts Council that brings the arts to seniors. It played a handful of times on the big screen in 2016, but Viddsee has given the work a new lease of life, allowing anyone on the go to snack on its rich storytelling for free.
The Drum’s revival on Viddsee, a Netflix of sorts for the Asian short film industry, is perhaps a sign of good things to come.
Video consumers, commuters and film-lovers can now take their pick from a variety of short films, across genres and topics, and watch them at their convenience. One can even create customised video playlists on Viddsee, à la Spotify; as a bonus, the videos play offline too.
For aspiring film-makers and storytellers, platforms such as Viddsee, which support original short films, is also a boon.
Ler, who has mostly worked on TV dramas and telemovies, found the experience of working on The Drum, his first short film in a decade, liberating. He says the relatively lower budget of short films allows makers to take more risks, be experimental, and honest to one’s creative voice.
He says: “I think stories about the elderly in Singapore are particularly important because of our ageing population. The issues they face need to be brought into public consciousness.”