By Yasmeen Banu
Many here below the age of 40, do not understand the concept of poverty. On the front, its streets are the picture of wealth and affluence. But in the dark corners, hundreds call these streets home.
A group of ex-temasek polytechnic (TP) students did a film about the less known, less talked about, sometimes seen, and always leaving people wondering: The Homeless People.
Titled “Out In The Cold”, it is a documentary bringing light to people and circumstances that sometimes can’t be help.
The ex-students from TP who had to do a final year project for their Diploma in Moving Images formed the team of four for the documentary. They are Tan Yi Wilfred, the director, Nur Shahirah A. Latif, the producer, Sing Valerie, the director of photography and Anisa Bte Abdul Latiff, the editor.
The seed of idea to do a documentary about the homeless situation in Singapore was planted in them when they chanced upon a man who was sleeping in a park one day. Naturally, they became very curious, wanting to know if there really are homeless people in Singapore.
Soon enough, curiosity got the better of them and they researched more on the homeless situation by looking at statistics on home ownership rate. They wrote in to homeless shelters and welfare organizations to better understand the situation.
The team also explored various streets in Singapore to search for the homeless. After understanding the situation of these people, they realized that “the overlapping issues amongst the homeless people in Singapore are the lack of family support and financial problem”. This was how the team decided on the angle to focus on for their documentary.
Lack of family support, as shown in the documentary, is one of the common reasons for homelessness in Singapore. However, “there are also other contributing factors that have left them in their current situation…and this vary between individuals”.
While the concept of the public housing policy, which was first introduced in 1960, is meant to create affordable homes for Singaporeans, the two case studies interviewed by the team are unable to benefit from these policies due to their circumstances.
The main purpose of their video is to raise awareness on the situation of the homeless in Singapore in the hopes that people, especially the younger generation, would understand the importance of family support through the help of the case study stories.
The team also faced challenges while making the documentary. They spent about half a year researching, developing and piecing the film together. Some of the homeless people they found on the streets were also not willing to be featured in their documentary.
By illustrating the plight of the case studies, the team “definitely hopes to see a decrease in the number of people who die on the streets alone”.
We as filmmakers/students are able to help by informing people of the situation through our documentary. And we hope that our viewers will reflect upon and take away something valuable.
The team reflected on how rewarding it was for them to notice the number of ‘shares’ and ‘likes’ there were on Facebook, since this is when people started to notice their documentary. Ultimately, their goal to raise awareness on the issue of homelessness in Singapore was met.
Watch the documentary here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2NMoMceX9U