To Singapore, with Love was the Cine21 Busan Daily’s Critics Choice. Here’s their review and an interview with me.
This film is about Singapore, but not a single scene is from Singapore.
In the movie, several Singaporeans talk about their fatherland. Although they were exiled by Singaporean government decades ago and are still not permitted to enter the country, they have never have forgotten their country, not even a single moment. The film reflects the history of Singapore through the Singaporean exiles, who are making their way through life in foreign land such as London, Thailand, Malaysia, and they deliver a message for the future generations. To the exiles, Singapore is an object of love and hatred, where memories of the past, the scar of exile, and the ardent love that they have been carrying are all mixed-up. The scar has affected their children, some of whom also cannot get the Singaporean citizenship. However, some exiles get over the wound and rise to their feet to document their experiences in books and music, or they feel empowered to help other small nations with lesser power.
If you feel compassion or are touched while watching this documentary, To Singapore, with Love, maybe it is because of the format of the film. The production’s ability to weave sentiment from small details, food, poetry, songs, and photos, that pull out emotional connection is impressive. A new production of Director Tan Pin Pin, who has been attempting to re-compose the identity of Singapore, which was also her homeland, through her previous films Invisible City and Singapore GaGa.
To Singapore, with Love is made in 2013 with the support of Asian Network of Documentary Fund, and will be featured as a world premiere at Busan International Film Festival. So, we get to watch this film by Director Tan Pin Pin, ahead of Singaporean audiences.”
To new generations of Singaporeans, the documentary films of Director Tan Pin Pin, would be the reference of the past that is more valuable than history books. Her fatherland Singapore is an object that has fascinated and inspired her for a long time.
Through her previous works such as Singapore GaGa (2005) and Invisible City (2007), Singapore’s social classes, languages and spaces earned a new meaning. Her new production presented in Busan this year, is also a documentary about Singapore. Is she unable to get out of the charming space of Singapore? “Ha ha, I receive proposals about filming a drama. I say, ‘Yes I will do it’, but what can I do? Even though the opportunity to direct a dramatic movie finds me, whenever I hear anything related to Singapore, it becomes my first priority. I do not choose the subject, but the subject chooses me. It is interesting.”
To Singapore, with Love is a story of exiles, who have been banished from Singapore, and who live in foreign land. Featuring the people who cannot lay their feet on their homeland, the movie talks about Singapore from the exiles perspective. To Director Tan Pin Pin, who wanted to make “more a poetic movie, less a polemical one”, the film is a love letter to Singapore, as the title of the movie suggests. That is why she allocated much time on showing the poems and the songs written by the exiles who express their longing toward their hometown as well as the food they ate, and the photos from the past. How will Singaporeans react to the portrait of Singapore that is reflected in the eyes of the people who are outsiders but not complete strangers? She says what she wonders most is the response of the young Singaporean audience whom she hopes, will get to see this film sometime in the future.