Nyi Ma Lay

Nyi Ma Lay, which means “my younger sister,” is the name of the short film directed by Chiang Wei Liang and presented at the 28th Singapore International Film Festival. The 20-minute clip is filmed entirely with one long shot, and starts with a domestic helper looking into the distance on a tall building. We soon realise…

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Apprentice

At first glance, Boo Junfeng’s latest film Apprentice looks like an attempt to take the delicate subject of capital punishment by the neck in being one of the few (perhaps the only) films to explore this topic in Singapore. However, any expectation of a direct engagement is thwarted as we are presented instead with a film where clear…

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Splendour

Cemetery of Splendour, directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, brings us to a world where dreams and reality conflate. It is a world where a group of soldiers are plagued by a strange illness which causes them to suddenly and uncontrollably fall (quite literally and abruptly) asleep. They are housed in a hospital where Jen, an ageing…

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Checkers

Adapted from two short stories “At the Café Lovely” and “Draft Day” by Rattawut Lapcharoensap, How to Win At Checkers (Every Time) is a coming-of-age film that touches on sensitive issues in Thai society, including the military draft, violence in the south, drugs, sex trade, homosexuality, and religion. Yet, that is all the film manages…

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Panay

Opening the 26th Singapore International Film Festival was Panay, a film about the indigenous people living in the rural east coast of Taiwan. Panay is the name of the main character in the film and also refers to “paddy field” – both of which “grow” as the film progresses. Panay lives as a journalist in…

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Sawasdee

I caught the complete nine-part anthology that made up the Thai omnibus film, Sawasdee Bangkok at the Southeast Asian Film Festival (Singapore Art Museum) last year. Of the nine short films, four were selected to participate in the Toronto Film Festival (Sightseeing, Bangkok Blues, Pi Makham, and Silence) in 2009. Here is a short summary of…

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