Singapore's first crowdsourced film premieres at Shaw Lido
SINGAPORE — The gala premiere of Together Apart, Singapore’s first crowdsourced film project, was held at Shaw Lido yesterday, where three short films on local-foreigner relations were screened as part of Project Lapis Sagu, a national integration initiative by The Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI).
Guest-of-honour Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu congratulated filmmakers Kelvin Tong, K Rajagopal and Sanif Olek, who had developed the films based on winning ideas submitted by members of the public.
“Lapis Sagu allows thousands of us to think about this subject (of national integration), about who we are as a society,” she said. “It causes us to ... observe some of the sub-communities among us and really dig deep, and ask ourselves (about our) differences and similarities.”
“I think it’s when we confront such emotions, biases and prejudices that we will come to some realisation.”
The premiere opened with Rajagopal’s Sanjay, about a young couple who had just migrated from India to Singapore. The second film, Olek’s The Manifest, portrays tensions between a Singaporean space engineer and a naturalised citizen while on a critical space mission.
Tong’s B.M.T, short for Beijing.Mumbai.Tampines, explores the shared experiences of National Service among Singaporeans and naturalised citizens. Tong, 45, said he faced more difficulties than he anticipated.
“The challenge was making a short film about social integration that didn’t condescend or skirt the essential issues of discrimination and bias. These can be difficult subjects but they had to addressed head on,” he said. “That, for a filmmaker, is always exciting.”
The initiative, launched in December last year, drew 1,209 entries from members of the public with diverse backgrounds.
Thomas Goh, a full-time national serviceman who worked with Sanif; Sean Loo, a digital film student who worked with Rajagopal; and Alvona Loh, a medical student who worked with Tong, were given prize money of S$5,000 each. Tan Zi Hui, a laboratory executive who worked with filmmaker Eric Khoo, also received the sum.
Khoo and Tan’s submission was dropped from the line-up of films due to concerns from early viewers that the film’s depiction of foreigners as zombies might cause offence.
Tan, 23, was told about the objections to the project with Khoo several weeks ago.
“It’s a pity (the film was dropped) ... but it’s for the greater good,” she said. “By taking the film out of the anthology, we avoided (it) being misinterpreted,” she added. Reena Devi
Watch Together Apart at www.lapis-sagu.sg and gov.sg
Amendment: The original headline to this story said that the film was "crowdfunded". It has been amended to reflect that the film is crowdsourced.