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TIONG BAHRU goes global

- By Ho Rui An -

The community of Tiong Bahru gathered early last week at their local multiplex to see themselves on the silver screen. TIONG BAHRU, the short film by Irish filmmakers Joe Lawlor and Christine Molloy as part of the CIVIC LIFE project, was shown for the first time at the cast and friends preview.

Over 300 people from the area and from farther afield came together for the night and watched as the film unfolded the stories of its three stars, all of whom were volunteers: senior citizen Madam Lim, hawker stallholder Leo Mak and 16-year-old Veronica Patricia Rio. The film received its official world premiere on the following night, 5 October 2010, at the National Museum of Singapore.

The premiere marked the culmination of months of hard work, research and community dialogue for the directing duo whose past works have been lauded for their stunning and contemplative beauty. The filmmaker’s collaborative ethos towards film-making also lends the film a certain authenticity unfound in the usual mainstream fare. Instead of imposing a contrived social-cultural narrative upon the space of Tiong Bahru, or wallowing in nostalgic charms of the old estate, the film focuses on the personal stories of three characters charting new directions for their futures.

In the film, a grandmother resists her children’s efforts to move her out of her beloved neighbourhood, a young hawker confronts his father about his reluctance to inherit his drinks stall and a former juvenile delinquent struggles to fit into her new foster family.

Meanwhile, WHERE THE HEART IS, a short-film competition organised as part of the CIVIC LIFE project has also enjoyed a tremendous response from the local community, with many amateur filmmakers trying their hands at filmmaking for the first time.

TIONG BAHRU will play at the National Museum of Singapore on Tuesday evenings at 7:30pm throughout October and tickets will be available free on a first-come-first-served basis. Each week, the film will be accompanied by a selection of short-films from the short film competition, WHERE THE HEART IS, including the People’s Choice winner, WHEN THE DAY BEGINS, a tribute to the migrant workers of Singapore by Prashant Somosundram, as well as the Jury Prize winner, CORRIDOR, by Isazaly Mohamed Isa. Two other films which received special mention from the jury - Stephane Laserre’s WHERE THE HEART WAS and Tang Kang Sheng’s REMEMBER will also be screened.

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The Jury Prize winner and special mention films as voted by the panel of industry experts:


Corridor by Isazaly Mohd Isa


Where my heart was by Stephane Lasserre


Remember by Tang Kang Sheng


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The People's Choice winner, runner-up and third place films which received the most number of votes:


When the day begins... by Prashant Somosundram (winner)


I am home by Jason Chan & Andrew Keegan (runner-up)


家 (Home) by Esna Ong (third place)

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