Movie Feature

EUFF & Puttnam School of Film: Transcending language and culture

By Patrick BenjaminMovies - 25 April 2012 11:00 AM | Updated 10:19 AM

EUFF & Puttnam School of Film: Transcending language and culture

Film still from He Shuming's 'Labour Day'.

Continuing the European Union Film Festival’s (EUFF) long running tradition of collaborating with homegrown film institutions by providing an avenue to screen the works of upcoming new talents, this year’s edition involves a tie-up with LASALLE College of the Arts’ Puttnam School of Film. 

“Film is an increasingly important and popular medium and has proven to transcend languages, boundaries and nationalities. Its power to unify through universally appealing stories cannot be underestimated,” says Gisli Snaer, Head of Putnam School of Film. Founded in 2005, it is Singapore's first film school offering a bachelor's degree.

Reflecting this vision is a collection of 14 diverse short films from the alumni, paired with the features of the main festival. The 22nd edition of the EUFF happens from 10 to 20 May at Golden Village VivoCity.

Dealing with an eclectic range of subject matters from immigration policies, conscription, wry slice-of-life satires, family ties to a surrealist fable about a magician’s life, these films and documentaries shed an insight into the creativity sprouting in this city.

‘Labour Day’ – He Shuming

He Shuming ,27- year-old local director and Putnam School of Film alumni, showcases ‘Labour Day’ (paired with ‘Something About Love’), a humorous take on the relationship between a Malay landlord and her two foreign tenants who are trying to forge a better life in Singapore. He muses about the making of the film, “I think life is tough here but humor helps us deal with it by making us laugh at and with ourselves. In fact, when my team and I were setting up a shoot in People’s Park, one of my leads was approached by several pimps who were enquiring about her rates. Fortunately, she took it in her stride, stated exorbitant rates and laughed off the incident.”   

‘Manta Ray’ -  Mads K. Bækkevold

Another 27 –year- old who features prominently in the programme is Norwegian Mads K. Bækkevold, who was a professional cartoonist before embarking on his cinematic foray in Singapore. In his warped, dark humor piece ‘Manta Ray’ (paired with ‘The Strange Case of Angelica’); he circumnavigates the existential dilemmas of a failed stage magician who might have unlocked one of his spirits from a previous life. 

One can’t help but cackle on the conceptualization of his ambitious film. Bækkevold   explains, “On the back of a local taxi late one night, watching the streetlights swish by through the rainy windows, listening to Giorgio Moroder’s ‘Chase’ on my iPod, half-drunk and somewhat buzzed, Manta Ray just strolled into my head, with the whole story fully formed. Sounds like J.K. Rowling and her train ride to London but in a Singaporean taxi, I have strange feeling, that’s what fictional magicians do.”

But it’s not just humor on display here, the plight of Kassim, a cook in his forties based in Maayur, a village in South India, who has tried countless times to move to Singapore on a work permit in order to give his family a better life is encapsulated in 25-year-old Nooraini Shah’s documentary ‘Window of Dreams’ (paired with ‘In A Better World’).

‘Window of Dreams’ – Nooraini Shah

The director who is active in the voluntary and grassroots organizations, “My late father used to run an orphanage in Batam. I am sure that his social consciousness has rubbed onto me. I think that’s the main reason why I enjoy making documentaries with important themes like immigration, education and human trafficking.” 

Even if you aren’t a seasoned cineaste who can wax lyrical about the likes of Almodovar, Truffaut and Herzog don’t miss the eclectic films showcased in this festival; you might even come across the early works of the next great local filmmaker.  

For more details and an extended screening schedule, click here.

Tickets will be available from 26 Apr 2012 at Golden Village box offices nationwide and on