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Four short films on Merdeka Generation to premiere on TV, online

SINGAPORE — As a tribute to the "Merdeka generation", a series of four short films will be released on Thursday (Jan 31) to celebrate the tenacity and resilience of Singaporeans born in the 1950s.

Four short films on Merdeka Generation to premiere on TV, online

A still from The Kampong, one in a series of four short films that will tell the stories of Singapore’s earlier years through the eyes of people from the "Merdeka generation".

SINGAPORE — As a tribute to the "Merdeka generation", a series of four short films will be released on Thursday (Jan 31) to celebrate the tenacity and resilience of Singaporeans born in the 1950s.

The Merdeka Stories anthology will document Singapore’s earlier years through the eyes of people from that generation.

Lasting about three minutes each, the films will be released on free-to-air television, on YouTube under the Gov.sg channel and as previews in cinemas.

Last year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced a Merdeka Generation Package for some 500,000 Singaporeans and commended them for their sacrifices made and hardships endured.

Ms Karen Tan, senior director of the public communications division at the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI), said of the short films: “These stories are inspired by real-life stories. Through their stories, we want to also share with people the development of Singapore, especially in the formative years of post-independence.”

Writer Jean Tay and film directors Martin Hong, Wee Li Lin and Don Aravind at the media preview event for The Merdeka Stories. Photo: MCI

A collaboration between media company MM2 Entertainment and MCI, the films — scripted by Singapore playwright Jean Tay — are:

  • The Soldier, directed by Mr Martin Hong

  • The Mother, directed by Ms Priscilla Ang Geck Geck

  • The Factory Girl, directed by Ms Wee Li Lin

  • The Kampong, directed by Mr Don Aravind

Ms Tay, an artistic director at Saga Seed Theatre, said that the characters and story ideas came from research, interviews as well as conversations with friends and relatives from the Merdeka generation. 

“What I found was that many of these stories about the Merdeka generation were really about relationships and building bridges across different cultures, races and also generations,” she added.

Those from that generation had “big hearts”, but also showed courage in supporting their families and protecting the nation, creating communities along the way, she said.

Ms Wee of Bobbing Buoy Films said she was privileged that the women in her family, including her grandmother, were educated and free to pursue their careers. Her short film is about a young girl who has to give up her studies to work in a factory and support her family.

She said: “To know that in the Merdeka generation there are these large groups of women who had to sacrifice school and some of their dreams to start work in manual labour, like in a factory, I think, for me, it is moving.” 

Mr Aravind, whose film is about a kampung banding together to fix a car, noted that the Merdeka generation accomplished much with little resources and material comforts.

“I think we’ve come a really long way,” he said, adding that the younger generation can sometimes take Singapore’s success and living standards for granted.

Separately, a documentary series paying tribute to the Merdeka generation premiered earlier this week on Monday on Channel 5. Hands that Shaped the Nation: The Merdeka Generation is a seven-part series that will be released weekly in half-hour episodes.

It will also be telecast on Channel 8, Suria and Vasantham in their respective languages next month.

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