Fifteen Singapore filmmakers have come together in a ground-up effort to a show a lesser-told side of Singaporeans from the 1970s to the 1990s. Through 15 Shorts, a collaboration between the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) and Blue3Asia, the 15 film directors will provide an alternative perspective to the nation-building narratives of the era.
Watch these slice-of-life stories from our City of Good, as they unveil how a giving side has always been a part of us as humans.
In the spirit of giving, each director has further dedicated his or her film to a charity in Singapore.
A brown dog, with a severed foreleg, struggles to survive amidst a harsh cruel human world. Inspired by true events, this is the story of how Cathy Strong, the co-founder of Animal Lovers League, discovered her calling for saving animals in need. Cathy’s encounter with the puppy reminds her of what inspired her to start Animal Lovers League, which she co-founded with Mohan Div.
Eric Khoo put Singapore on the international film map with his first feature film “Mee Pok Man” (1995). “12 Storeys” (1997) was the first Singaporean film to be invited to officially participate in the 50th Cannes Film Festival. Eric was the first recipient of the National Arts Council’s Young Artist Award for Film in 1997. He was also conferred the Singapore Youth Awards (Individual) in 1999 for his dedication to film-making and contributions to society.
Jerrold Chong is a director/animator who is fascinated by the power of animated cinema as an abstract visual metaphor. He is driven by a desire to tell sincere stories that examine the depths of everyday life and the complexities of the human experience. His films have screened at numerous international film festivals, including Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, Annecy International Animated Film Festival, Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF), Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival in Bristol, Animatricks Animation Festival in Helsinki, Short Shorts Film Festival in Tokyo and Bucheon International Animation Festival in South Korea.
Andre Quek is a filmmaker who specializes in 2D hand-drawn animation. In 2014, he co-founded Finding Pictures (2018), an animation studio in Singapore. Andre’s film “Princess” has been screened at over 50 international film festivals, winning multiple awards for best animation short films, including Best Animation Award in the National Youth Film Awards (NYFA) 2015, and Gold award in the Crowbar Awards 2015. He has since focused on directing commercial shorts and produced Automatonomy (2017) that won Best Animation in NYFA 2019.
BASED ON A TRUE STORY - By Sun Ji
Don is a 15-year-old delinquent who is beyond parental control. Almost everyone has given up on Don, including Don himself. Inspector Chia is a police officer who deals with secret societies and juvenile delinquents. Will he see the good in Don? Or is his compassion misplaced?
The film is inspired by the true story of Inspector Chia Hwa Tong who, apart from his police work, was known by members of the public for going beyond the call of duty and for his remarkable service to youth.
Sun Ji has directed various short films and commercials. “Ten Thousand Bowls”, a short film for Gleneagles Hospital, went viral in 2014, gathering over 820,000 views in less than two months. Sun also made the short film, “Take Me Away” which clinched Best Short Film at the Movie Maker Awards Singapore 2016, and Best Short Film at the Calcutta International Film Festival.
MAJID THE LEGEND
BASED ON A TRUE STORY - By Jian Hao Tan, With Ridhwan Azman
Uncle Choo spots a young Majid practising football and is struck by the teenager’s passion. The film is inspired by legendary coach Choo Seng Quee who groomed football greats including Majid Ariff. The latter, in turn, inspired a new generation of footballers including Fandi Ahmad.
JianHao Tan is one of the most followed YouTube personalities in Singapore, with over 3.79 million subscribers. He began making YouTube videos as a hobby with friends in 2010. In 2014, he started a YouTube production/advertising company, ‘TheJianHaoTan’.
JianHao Tan also owns the largest gaming entertainment channel in Singapore called ‘NotGoodGamers’.
Ridhwan Azman is the founder and director of Crayeight Studios Pte Ltd. From his role as “Recruit Ismail” in Jack Neo’s local blockbuster Ah Boys To Men l & ll, he emerged as one of the Top 12 finalists of Mediacorp Channel U’s Campus Superstar 校园 2009 and has grown into more than just an artiste since.
ONE AT A TIME
BASED ON A TRUE STORY - By Daniel Yam
Teresa Hsu was the founder and matron for Home of the Aged Sick, one of the first homes for the sick elderly in Singapore, until she was made to retire at 85. Renowned as Singapore’s own “Mother Teresa”, this short film charts her life’s turning points following retirement and what shaped her relentless story of giving.
Daniel Yam is an award-winning filmmaker who loves to take his audience on a journey to discover the beauty of humanity. Often heart-warming and sentimental, his work champions the human spirit. Daniel’s works have been seen by more than 500 million viewers worldwide. One of Daniel’s works — short film, GIFT — has won the hearts of over 30 million viewers worldwide on various online platforms. GIFT is now subtitled in more than 10 languages and has travelled the world and won acclaim at numerous international film festivals.
BASED ON A TRUE STORY - By Boo Junfeng
At the height of the AIDS scare in the 1980s, health worker Iris arrives at a HDB flat, introducing herself to a family as the younger son’s counsellor. The son is afraid and ashamed of his condition, and the family would like to be discreet.
This film is based on the true story of Iris Verghese, who counselled numerous AIDs patients and their families. Her actions were courageous at a time when there was much fear and stigma around the condition.
Boo Junfeng wrote and directed “Sandcastle” (2010) and “Apprentice” (2016). “Apprentice” premiered at Cannes Film Festival under the Un Certain Regard section, whilst “Sandcastle” was the first Singaporean film invited to Cannes Film Festival’s International Critics’ Week. Boo Junfeng was named by Variety as a director who leads the new wave in Singapore’s film industry, and he was the Creative Director of the National Day Parade 2018.
BASED ON A TRUE STORY - By Chong Yu Lun
A jaded salaryman, Kelvin lives a separate existence from his cheerful condo security guard Shanti. But a devastating illness forces Kelvin to make a promise that will change both their lives. The film is inspired by the true story of Kelvin Lee who helped a family in need. He received the Good Neighbour Award from Sembawang GRC in 1999.
Chong Yu Lun along with partner Rachel Toh, co-founded Walk and Roll Studios. Together they have acquired more than 10 filmmaking awards. Their short film “Dao Sha Pia” was shared by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Rachel and Lun are also renowned for their Youtube channel, Butterworks. As of December 2018, it has gathered 214,000 subscribers and over 9 million views.
BASED ON A TRUE STORY - By Sean Ng
Abandoned by his father, Aaron, a 17-year-old boy, is left in debt and homeless, together with his mother and younger sister. They are forced to live in a tent at East Coast Park. Aaron’s world is shaken after he meets a suspicious man who claims to want to help his family.
This film is based on the true story of Rashid Bakar who made the news in 2000 for housing homeless families in his one-room flat. As a child, Rashid had lived alone on the East Coast of Singapore, sleeping in boats and surviving on scraps for two years.
Sean Ng started AMOK, a creative film company in 2014. He’s worked on brands such as Louis Vuitton, Coca-Cola, Chevrolet, Audi, Sony, Facebook. In 2015, Sean’s short film, “You, Me”, clinched the Best Film Award at the Inaugural Movie Makes Competition by MM2 Entertainment. Since then, his filmmaking career has progressed to writing and directing “Zi Char”, a 90 minute telemovie commissioned by StarHub’s E-City Channel.
BASED ON A TRUE STORY - By Chai Yee Wei
Roman Catholic nun Sister Gerard Fernandez became a death row counsellor after Catherine Tan was sentenced to hang. Catherine Tan was one of the two holy wives of the infamous Adrian Lim – a spirit medium whose outrageous story of sex, rituals and rites shocked the entire nation.
Sister Gerard visited and counseled Catherine every step of the way – until Catherine walked to the gallows in her final moments.
This film is inspired by Sister Gerard Fernandez, who was a pioneer in death row counselling. She co-founded the Roman Catholic Prison Ministry. When asked why she counsels doomed prisoners, her answer is always: “The condemned need hope. We may condemn them, but God condemns no one.”
Chai Yee Wei has written/co-written and directed 4 feature films – “Blood Ties”, “Twisted”, “That Girl In Pinafore” and “The Voice of China – I Want You”. He also founded Mocha Chai Laboratories (MCL), Singapore’s first boutique digital film lab specialising in Digital Cinema Package-related services, to help transition filmmakers to digital content delivery at cinemas. MCL also opened the first and only Dolby Atmos certified facility in Singapore and collaborates with partners like HBO Asia, IFW, Apple, Golden Village, mm2 Entertainment, and more.
BASED ON A TRUE STORY - By Tan Wei Ting, With Kirsten Tan
Tan Cheng Siong believed in the potential of a vertical kampung in Singapore, where a ‘C’ shaped high-rise building could foster a sense of community. This film tracks the pioneer architect’s journey with Pearl Bank Apartments, from its very start to its final days when the development was finally sold.
Now at the age of 83, Tan Cheng Siong continues to combat social isolation with architectural solutions that are inclusive and community-oriented.
Kirsten Tan completed a Master’s in Film Production at New York University. Her first feature film “Pop Aye” (2017) was released to critical acclaim. It was the first film to win the Special Jury Prize for Screenwriting at the Sundance Film Festival, and the VPRO Big Screen Award at the International Film Festival Rotterdam. At the Singapore International Film Festival, she won Best Southeast Asian Film for “Dahdi” (2014), Best Director for “Fonzi” (2007), and Special Jury Prize for “10 Minutes Later” (2006).
Tan Wei Ting cares about telling honest stories. Her debut short film “CA$H” won Best Directing in the Open Category at the National Youth Film Awards 2018. Apart from directing, other works she has done include “One Hour to Daylight” (Writer); “Still Is Time” (Editor); “My Father After Dinner” (Editor), which won Best Singapore Short Film at the 26th Singapore International Film Festival’s Silver Screen Awards; “VOTE” (Writer), which won her Best Screenplay at the 3rd ciNE65 short film competition; “Passenger” (Writer & Editor) and “The Longest-Distance Relationship” (Producer), which won Best Jury Award and Best Documentary respectively at the 6th Singapore Short Films Award.
BASED ON A TRUE STORY - By Jason Lee
The Buddy tells the story of 8-year-old Hidayat, who is tasked by his teacher to be a buddy to his isolated and erratic classmate, Tam. The two develop a close bond, eventually making a decision that will change Tam’s life forever.
This film is based on the true story of Nurhidayat Hamid, who attended Ping Yi primary school in the 1990s. He embraced and guided an autistic classmate at a time when there was little understanding of the condition. Hidayat was the inaugural winner of the first-ever Readers’ Digest Youth Kindness Award.
Jason Lee is an aspiring filmmaker who started pursuing his dream at the age of 17. He shot “Closer Apart” (2014), which gained traction after it was released online, and screened at film festivals in Hong Kong, Indonesia and Laos. He’s made commissioned pieces for charity foundations through which he hopes to contribute back to society. With these opportunities, Jason has accumulated ground experience to aid his future works.
BASED ON A TRUE STORY - By Kelvin Tong
Geetha is a hotline counsellor for Tinkle Friend which reaches out to young children in Singapore. Her story intertwines with a primary school boy Ravi who is left at home by himself. The film is inspired by the volunteers behind Tinkle Friend, a helpline for primary school-aged children.
Kelvin Tong started out as a film critic, writing reviews for The Straits Times. His first feature “Eating Air” was critically acclaimed. “The Maid”, a horror thriller, broke the box office record in Singapore for the horror genre, and remains the highest grossing horror film in Singapore. Kelvin’s short film for the “7 Letters” omnibus (2015) for SG50 received special attention. In 2016, Tong became the first Singaporean director to helm a Hollywood horror film, “The Faith of Anna Waters”.
THE T(H)REE LIVES
BASED ON A TRUE STORY - By K. RAJAGOPAL
Rosie Wong, a blind woman, shares a retrospective account about the three lives which shaped her life. Taking inspiration from ‘The Giving Tree’, her life is significantly changed by a kind stranger, Pak Cik Tubi Moh Salleh, who helped her get to work everyday for 5 years. Pak Cik Tubi continued this good deed for the next few years, tirelessly helping Madam Rosie. For his kindness, Tubi won The Straits Times Courtesy Search in 1990.
K. Rajagopal won the Singapore International Film Festival’s Special Jury Prize for 3 consecutive years. “I Can’t Sleep Tonight” (1995), “The Glare” (1996) and “Absence” (1997) were featured in international festivals. His short film “Timeless” (2010), won Best Cinematography and Best Editing at the Singapore Short Film Awards 2011. He wrote and directed television films like “Maddy”, “Two Mothers in a HDB Playground” for Channel 5. “A Yellow Bird” (2016) was his first feature film, premiering at the Cannes Film Festival.
UNDER THE SAME PINK SKY
BASED ON A TRUE STORY - By Gladys Ng
Yunying, a Chinese-speaking housewife, is diagnosed with breast cancer and worries about the consequences on her family. Mandarin teacher Hedy is a recent breast cancer survivor who is unexpectedly given an opportunity to help other women. Their two paths cross.
The film is inspired by the volunteer who initiated the Breast Cancer Foundation’s Mandarin Support Group to help women who had challenges accessing healthcare information communicated in English.
Gladys Ng’s short film, “My Father After Dinner”, was presented Best Singapore Short at the 26th Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF). Under a commission from SGIFF, she made “The Pursuit of a Happy Human Life”, that opened the festival in 2016. She was trained in writing and directing at the Victorian College of the Arts and participated in FLY ASEAN-ROK.
BASED ON A TRUE STORY - By Nicole Midori Woodford
Tommy opens up his life and home to those who are alone in their last hour, as they move from the world of the living to the dead.
This film is based on the life of Tommy Yu. A former hooligan, Tommy found joy helping and befriending old folks. Today he runs Seng Xiang Services, which performs pro-bono funerals for those who die alone. He has been volunteering with seniors for the past 30 years.
Nicole Midori Woodford is an alumnus of the 8th Berlinale Talent Campus in 2010 and was selected to join the Asian Film Academy at the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) 2010. Her short film, “Kitchen Quartet”, was selected for the Singapore International Film Festival in 2010; and “For We Are Strangers” made its world premiere at the 20th BIFF. Nicole was one of the five selected directors in the inaugural edition of SEAFIC (Southeast Asian Fiction Film Lab) in 2016 and is currently writing her first feature film.
City of Good is a vision of a Singapore, where Individuals, Organisations and Leaders come together to give their best for others. Giving our best for others means moving away from a ‘me-first’ mindset and being other-centred.
In short, a City of Good is where we value people first and foremost, and become a Singapore that cares.
The National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) is the steward of the City of Good vision for Singapore, where individuals, organisations, and leaders come together to give their best for others.
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