Best of Singapore literature - onscreen
Our cinemas may be screening many Hollywood adaptations of literary works, but tonight, four home-grown film-makers will be bringing works by four Singaporean authors from print to screen at this year’s edition of Utter.
The four titles are Wee Li Lin’s That Loving Feeling, which is based on Homecoming, by the late Gopal Baratham; Sanif Olek’s Tin Kosong, based on the story of the same name by Muhammad Salihin Sulaiman; Don Aravind’s At Your Doorstep, based on Peaks by Kamaladevi Aravindhan; and Kenny Tan’s Going Home, based on a short story of the same name by author Lin Jin. All of them will be screened at Golden Village Vivocity, and the directors and writers will be present for a post-screening discussion.
Now in its fourth year, Utter is a Singapore Writers Festival initiative to adapt local literature for different media and across languages.
“We actually gave them a whole bunch of text that covered a broad range of topics, but ... There is a certain nostalgia and a certain pioneer generation theme, which I think is an interesting coincidence,” shared Singapore Writers Festival director Paul Tan.
If that’s not enough reason to visit Vivocity tonight, here are four more:
THE FOUR FILMS RAISE AWARENESS OF SINGAPORE STORIES
This Singapore Writers Festival initiative raises awareness of both local authors and film-makers. And yes, there are some great stories from Singapore storytellers that can work on the big screen.
“This could be a new frontier for short films,” said Nicholas Chee, co-founder of Sinema Media, the producing partner of Utter 2014. “I also think the industry is maturing.”
FOUR FILMS IN FOUR NATIONAL LANGUAGES
The newbies Aravind and Tan, along with veterans Sanif and Wee, adapted works from the Singaporean authors which were in Tamil, Mandarin, Malay and English. Tan, for example, faced initial challenges interpreting and translating the chosen text.
“The last time I had to read a Mandarin story was in secondary school!” Tan told TODAY. “The first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words ‘Chinese novel’ is that it’s really deep. I was afraid I couldn’t grasp the gist or the many layers within a Mandarin story. But when I finally sat down to read the selection of stories, I realised they were all contemporary and I could actually understand it.”
THE FOUR FILMS WERE SHOT IN THE SPACE OF TWO WEEKS
To put things into perspective, typically, the Media Development Authority (MDA) allots 12 months for a short film to be made, based on its grant. These four films were each shot within two days, with pre-production for all four films done together in eight weeks.
“It’s nuts!” quipped Chee. “The film-makers started work in April and now we’re getting to see them on the big screen! But it can only happen because we’re working with people who are at the top of their game.”
THE FOUR MADE FILM MAGIC ON CONSERVATIVE BUDGETS
No, none of them received millions to make their works come to fruition. All the film-makers had to work with that Chee called “not real commercial budgets”.
“It’s definitely all public service (on everyone’s part),” said Chee. “What we want to do is to be able to deliver the best possible product with the least amount of cost involved. That’s why we decided on certain different ways of doing it. The studio system, having the directors not to worry about producing, getting them to focus on the creativity and working on multiple layers.”
The four short films will be screened at Golden Village Vivocity tonight, 7pm to 9pm; and on Aug 3, 4pm to 6pm. Tickets at $10 each (10 per cent discount for students and senior citizens, applicable only to counter sales).
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for tickets or visit the Sinema Facebook page for latest updates.
Each ticket comes with a complimentary Utter 2014 book featuring behind-the-scenes content, screenplays, original texts and film storyboards.