by Alex Tan (16S03B) and Karen Cuison (16A01D)
Images courtesy of Raffles Film Society
When prodded for his greatest takeaways from Snippets of Imagination, chairperson of Film Society Jiaxin Xu (16A01A) quipped that they would probably be the four tubs of ice-cream left over from the showcase. Even though we were not invited to share in the luxury of consuming the delectable confectionery, we were still thoroughly impressed and charmed by Raffles Film Society’s annual showcase. From a behind-the-scenes view of Raffles Runway’s annual fashion show, RE:Collections, to a series of five-minute shorts, and half-an-hour epics, there was something for everyone in the Performing Arts Centre.
Year Five Special Films
A selection of teasingly short films made by Year Fives started the ball rolling. Some were downright cryptic, consisting solely of short clips interestingly juxtaposed, featuring urban cityscapes and black-and-white shots of plaster legs. Others were more easily identifiable and narratively tight, arousing deserved laughter from the audience. A film that documented a friendship grown exclusively on Whatsapp, making real-life interactions impossibly awkward, was notable.
Film Society collaborated with Raffles Runway to bring a behind-the-scenes view of Raffles Runway’s annual fashion show, RE:Collections. The skilfully crafted shorts premiered at RE:Collections, providing insights into the processes of ideation and creation. It was a refreshing change inserted smartly in between the Year Fives’ Feature Films and the Year Sixes’ Thesis Films.
Y6 Thesis Films
The feature films by the graduating batch of Film members left the audience in the Performing Arts Centre scared, stunned, sad, and in stitches, in that order.
Travelling on a budget? So were they, and renting a long-unused apartment seemed like the perfect solution. But all is not as it seems in the house. Will you be enjoying your stay?
Possessed kicked off the string of feature films with a most innocuous-looking printer, spitting out a booking confirmation for a budget HDB flat. The aptly selected soundtrack stitched together an atmosphere of foreboding and impending disaster from the beginning. This atmosphere was cleverly sustained throughout the eight-minute film – with whitewashed walls, much ambiguity, and gore scenes composed so well they looked discomfitingly like paintings. The frequency of frames shot from the characters’ backs, coupled with the jerky camera movements, contributed to the constant eerie sense that they were being watched by an invisible, supernatural force awaiting its opportune moment to pounce upon them. Although the film abounds in archetypes of its genre (other than its quintessentially Singaporean setting), the effective buildup guarantees that when the jumpscares arrive, aided by masterful special effects they pack plenty of lasting force and shock, fully and satisfyingly. All in all, Possessed was very successful, and its chilling ending, like any other good horror film, promises the horror’s continuity.
Directors: Allan Zhou, Fabian See
Cast: Joel Seow, Emma Lau, Allan Zhou
A Locked Room
Kyle runs an online murder mystery interest forum where users post different crime scenarios and other posters try to solve it and hence improve it, just for the thrill. A particular anonymous thread catches Kyle’s attention. A seemingly real unsolved murder mystery which promises clues only when the right questions has been asked. Will Kyle solve the mystery? and IF she does, what will that earn her?
With its beautiful cinematography set to appositely spine-tingling tinkles, one quickly arrives at the sense that much art was woven into the shooting of this short film, much care taken to intricately establish each scene. Everything has an air of the vaguely disturbing, from the grotesquely bright mythical beasts and uncannily painted faces of Haw Par Villa to the haphazardly scattered books and noddingly mirthful deity in Kyle’s flat. Mystery so pervades Kyle’s existence, that even her moments of interiority revolve around poring over her online murder mystery forum, puzzling over unsolved enigmas. Watching the human presence of Kyle pacing through static surroundings, the sole incarnation of aliveness amidst death and hell, one wonders, with a lingering sense of dissatisfaction: how did Kyle come to solve murder mysteries? What life does she lead beyond these pursuits? What kind of person is she outside of her unwavering detective instincts? These considerations aside, viewers thoroughly enjoyed the film as it builds with finesse to its horrific conclusion.
Director: Yuki Pan
Crew: Alethea Tan, Priya Ravi, Edina Loo
Cast: Katrina Jacinto and Megan Lourdesamy
The One You’ve Never Met
A story of a boy who learns that his sister has six months more to live. Inspired by a true story.
The premise of The One You’ve Never Met had plenty of potential for poignancy. The film documents the development of the relationship between siblings Aiden and May after the latter finds out she has cancer. Unfortunately, this film stops short of achieving its intended effect. Any height of genuine emotion was dimmed by over-sentimentalized music, histrionic outbursts and an unrealistic script. Many of the lines bluntly tell what could have been more subtly shown, such as when May, frailly lying in her hospital bed, tells Aiden that his effort in visiting her everyday has been “pretty touching, actually”. Yet one finds details which provide brief flashes of pathos. After May’s sudden passing, Aiden remembers that her voice was inadvertently recorded in his small contraption, her presence manifested like a spectre in that tiny object. As a powerful symbol of the unexpected things people leave behind after their deaths, these redeeming moments remind us of the truth in the true story upon which the film is based.
Director: Lorraine Fong
Crew: Linette Chan. Lim Jingzhou
Cast: Gary Huang, Celeste Tan
A Canon of Proportions
Who treads on your dreams? Paul and Felix, everyday boys in everyday modern life, hide secrets beneath their separate veneers. As their facades unravel under the influence of a hard-headed teacher, questions linger- what are they striving for, and for whose sake? Shot mainly in long, uninterrupted camera takes lasting up to 7 minutes in length, ‘a canon of proportions’ chronicles their efforts in dealing with individuality, modernity, and the remnants of an antiquated philosophy.
The first thing that stood out in A Canon of Proportions was its cinematography. Long, sprawling takes endowed the most mundane setting ever – school – with a majestic unfamiliarity. The estrangement, it seems, was part of the plan, fitting in impeccably in a plot about two boys questioning the veneers that living in modernity necessitates. On a deserted rooftop, Paul says, “It’s just not who I am … all this standing under the spotlight, all this nodding in the corridors when people walk back and forth, and I can’t stand it anymore.” Several lines later, his counterpart replies, “I’ve always wanted to produce something meaningful.” Although the film’s latent momentum was maintained in a balance of physical movement, humour and dialogue, the protracted stretches of Nietzsche-infused dialogue was heavy-handed and a little too self-indulgent. The subtlety and dimension of the film was, however, delightful. One can only speculate at, for example, the fate of Felix, who disappears at some point, or the homoerotic subtext between the various male characters in the film. Overall, Canon’s perplexity made for a rewarding – though at times vexing – viewing experience.
Director: Andrew Chen
Crew: Zhang Yuchen, Jeremy Tian
Cast: Gabriel Ng, Hethav Siva, Ariwan Kai
For us (and, we believe, many members of the audience), Snippets was an eye-opening opportunity to view conflicts and concepts through the able and sensitive cinematographic lenses of our peers. We would love to enjoy it again, with ice-cream next time.