Film, Like, Singapore — August 31, 2015 at 12:55 pm

7 Letters (2015)

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Although I have attended one of the premiere sessions at Capitol Theatre back in July, I have been too busy with work and only managed to write this now. The session I attended was “free” although we were given an envelop each to donate any amount we wish to charities. This special session was by invitation only and extended to all the film-related courses in Singapore. It is a very nice gesture on the filmmakers’ part and a way of giving back to their alma mater and country. Although quite last minute, I managed to secure some tickets for myself and a few students.

Judging by the significant number of vacant seats in the gorgeously-revamped Capitol Theatre, I felt quite disappointed with those students given the free tickets and did not show up. Firstly, it was a really wonderful movie comprising of 7 short films made by some of the finest local filmmakers to commemorate Singapore’s 50th anniversary. Secondly, these students are from film-related courses and yet they did not want to support their own filmmaking community? I guess they have their own reasons for not showing up. But it also reaffirm that people generally do not appreciate things when they are free.

In any case, Royston Tan was the executive producer who conceptualised 7 letters and from the Questions and Answers session after the screening, we learnt that he was approached by Media Development Authority to head this special film project. As a government-backed SG50 project, the filmmakers had unrestricted access to a lot of locations, such as the Tuas and Woodlands Customs. I believe I have never watched a local film featuring the customs before. So apparently, the various organisations including ICA have been very eager to be part of SG50 celebrations and provided whatever help they could.

7 letters feature a good representation of local filmmakers — Boo Junfeng, Eric Khoo, K Rajagopal, Jack Neo, Tan Pin Pin, Royston Tan, and Kelvin Tong. We can easily see the personal style of each filmmaker in their short films. For eg. Jack Neo’s comedy in Mandarin featured kids in a Kampong, K Rajagopal with his thought-provoking drama, Royston Tan with his strong visual storytelling, Tan Pin Pin as a documentary filmmaker making her first docudrama, and Boo Junfeng with his arthouse influences. As the opening short of 7 letters, Eric Khoo took the opportunity to pay a tribute to the Shaw and Cathay studios of the 50s and 60s.

I had a short discussion with my colleague on what films the students generally like. Apparently, a lot of them love Kelvin Tong’s Grandma Positioning System (GPS). He personally felt that Boo Junfeng’s Parting is the most accomplished. Personally, I can see why a lot of students like GPS. It is an unique and funny story but the ending is also rather unbelievable with the boy suddenly running back to his grandma’s grave. My vote goes to Tan Pin Pin and her Pineapple Town. It was the most emotionally impactful film in my opinion. Nevertheless, I must say all 7 films are very well-made in their own ways.

Catch it while you can at Golden Village cinemas.

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