SINGAPORE: A new anthology of short films that explores local-foreigner relations and issues of social integration will be released on Apr 4.
It is part of ongoing efforts to promote greater understanding and mutual respect between locals and foreigners in Singapore, said the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) on Friday (Mar 31).
Called Together Apart, the anthology is made up of three short films directed by local filmmakers Kelvin Tong, K Rajagopal and Sanif Olek. It was developed from winning ideas submitted by members of the public to Project Lapis Sagu, a contest launched by MCI last November to gather suggestions for a film focusing on cultural diversity. More than 1,200 entries were submitted.
The three short films explore relationships between Singaporeans and foreigners from different angles and settings, said MCI. "All three arrive at the same meeting point - that we can move beyond our differences and find common threads that bind us, if we take a moment to put ourselves in each other’s shoes," it added.
“FORGE A BRIDGE WITH DIFFERENT CULTURES”
The anthology begins with Rajagopal’s Sanjay, which touches on the struggles of a young couple who just migrated to Singapore from India. The short film is based on a submission by Sean Loo, a digital film student.
Screengrab from a teaser on govsingapore's YouTube page trailing Sanjay.
“What I hope the audience will take away is the message that acceptance, tolerance and understanding is essential - if we remain ignorant, then it is our fault; we must forge a bridge with different cultures as we work and live with different communities,” said Rajagopal.
The second film is based on a submission by National Serviceman Thomas Goh. Titled The Manifest, it takes viewers centuries ahead of time and shows tensions between a Singaporean space engineer and a naturalised citizen on a critical mission.
Said director Sanif: “I picked this story because I feel that the setting in space is very unique. It articulates the messaging in an innovative, non-conventional way.
“I hope that the audience will further embrace the rich cultural diversity here in Singapore. However, it takes two hands to clap - while there is so much literature about how locals should be more accepting, new migrants also need to break away from their enclaves and mingle with locals.”
Screengrab from a teaser on govsingapore's YouTube page trailing The Manifest.
Wrapping up the anthology is Tong's B.M.T (Beijing.Mumbai.Tampines). Based on a submission by medical student Alvona Loh, the film explores the National Service experience shared by both Singaporeans and naturalised citizens.
“There are many sensitivities surrounding the issue of social integration. Exploring the issue inevitably made us venture into unknown territory that was uncomfortable but ultimately rewarding,” said Tong, who added that making the film had been eye-opening.
There were originally four short films in the anthology slated for release, but the fourth film, directed by Eric Khoo, will not be included due to concerns raised in focus group discussions, said the ministry on Friday. The film had depicted foreigners as zombies around a human, Singaporean protagonist.
Together Apart will be made available online at www.lapis-sagu.sg from 9pm on Apr 4.
The films "surface pain points between Singaporeans and foreigners to spark conversations which will help us come to a better understanding of one another,” said Ms Karen Tan, senior director of the Public Communications Division at MCI. “We hope the films will resonate with people and get them thinking deeper about certain issues.”