Objectifs’ Now Showing exhibition: Showcasing the best of Southeast Asian short films

Objectifs’ Now Showing exhibition: Showcasing the best of Southeast Asian short films

Since 2003, Objectifs has been a visual arts space dedicated to film and photography. But never before has it put on an exhibition spanning three months.

Until 11 Sep, the centre presents Objectifs Cinema: Now Showing, a rotating film exhibition that showcases the best of Southeast Asian short films. Over 30 short films across a variety of genres are offered, from narrative, documentary to experimental have been curated for the event.

The exhibition is screened in four parts at the Objectifs Chapel Gallery, and features work including well-known local filmmakers like Boo Junfeng and Kirsten Tan, as well as regional names like Martika Ramirez Escobar and Carlo Francisco Manatad. Many of these films are rarely seen outside of the film festival circuit.

It will close with a showcase of short films by up-and-comers from local film schools, as part of efforts to help nurture new talent in visual storytelling.

There will be public programmes where audiences can engage in conversations with filmmakers. The hope is not just to gather film lovers of all backgrounds, but also to create an environment for deeper discussions and understanding of the region’s short films.

Admission to the exhibition is free. If you would like to access the short films screened throughout the event, they are available on Objectifs Film Library for viewing online.

The A List highlights a list of short films on offer at the exhibition.

1. Fonzi by Kirsten Tan (24 mins)

Fonzi is a short film by Singaporean filmmaker Kirsten Tan, whose debut feature film Pop Aye (2017) was the opening night film of the Sundance Film Festival in 2017.
Fonzi is a short film by Singaporean filmmaker Kirsten Tan, whose debut feature film Pop Aye (2017) was the opening night film of the Sundance Film Festival in 2017.

This 2007 work by New York-based Singaporean filmmaker Kirsten Tan is a metatextual world-within-world story. In it, Fonzi is a character who, like Pinocchio, yearns to be a real person. The difference here, however, is that Fonzi believes herself to be real.

Tan won Best Director at the 2007 Singapore International Film Festival for this work, and it was also awarded Best Concept at the BRNO 16 Film Festival that year.

Get access to Fonzi here.

2. How Green the Calabash Garden Was by Truong Minh Quy (15 mins)

 Truong Minh Quy, the director of How Green the Calabash Garden Was, often features his hometown Buon Ma Thuot’s landscape and childhood memories in his work.
Truong Minh Quy, the director of How Green the Calabash Garden Was, often features his hometown Buon Ma Thuot’s landscape and childhood memories in his work.

With a lush calabash garden as its backdrop, this short film recounts the horrors of the Cambodian genocide through a Vietnamese veteran, who tells the story to Truong.

They recreate the dark and grim memories through drawings, in the process unearthing the psychological and emotional traumas that have been buried for decades. The film has an unexpected twist when director Truong starts reflecting on the veteran’s story in an original manner.

Get access to How Green the Calabash Garden Was here.

3. Katong Fugue by Boo Junfeng (10 mins)

Katong Fugue is adapted from Alfian Sa’at’s play of the same name.
Katong Fugue is adapted from Alfian Sa’at’s play of the same name.

The Fugue in this short film’s title is taken from classical musician JS Bach’s Fugue composition. The film, an adaptation of a play of the same name by Alfian Sa’at, is set to a piano rendition of the song.

It features a mother desperately trying to reach out to her closeted gay son, and her reflection on the fragility of their relationship through photos and mementoes in her son’s bedroom.

The short film stars Neo Swee Lin and was awarded the Special Jury Prize at the 20th Singapore International Film Festival in 2007.

Get access to Katong Fugue here.

4. Quadrilaterals by Martika Ramirez Escobar (17 mins)

There are over 1 million overseas Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia, and Quadrilaterals tells the story of one such worker’s family.
There are over 1 million overseas Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia, and Quadrilaterals tells the story of one such worker’s family.

This short film tells the tale of a family of overseas Filipino workers in Manila. Prisco Escobal leaves home for work in Saudi Arabia, being away from family for almost 30 years in the hopes this sacrifice will help give his family a better life.

By the time he is 67 and returns home, the family’s four children have also followed in their father’s footsteps, leaving to work in foreign countries.

The film conveys what millions of Filipino families go through when scattering far, leading viewers to contemplate the irony where leaving is the best thing one can do for loved ones.

Get access to Quadrilaterals here.

5. Three Wheels by Kavich Neang (20 mins)

Three Wheels is one of three short films Cambodian filmmaker Kavich Neang has produced.
Three Wheels is one of three short films Cambodian filmmaker Kavich Neang has produced.

In Three Wheels, Nath, a tuk-tuk driver, meets a woman who brings him back to memories of years past. By the end of that lonely night, he tells his wife that he wants to move.

The short film reveals the relationship between an old couple during the Khmer Rouge regime, as well as the intimacy that is lacking in it. It also reveals to viewers that many Cambodians were forced into unions they felt nothing for during the radical rule of that regime, the effects of loveless marriages, the toll it takes on people, and how much many still yearn for the past – no matter how many years have passed.

Get access to Three Wheels here.

6. Sweet, Salty by Linh Duong (19 mins)

Linh Duong, the director of Sweet, Salty, is a Vietnamese filmmaker who is fascinated with sad, angsty and naggy women and explores the subject through her work.
Linh Duong, the director of Sweet, Salty, is a Vietnamese filmmaker who is fascinated with sad, angsty and naggy women and explores the subject through her work.

Ha, the protagonist of this short film, is not a happy person in Sweet, Salty. She is 40, pregnant, and living with two apathetic daughters. To make things worse, her husband is having an affair.

Egged on by her friends and her mother, Ha decides to take her sharp tongue and fiery demeanour to her philandering partner. But it does not go well, leaving with a bittersweet realisation.

Sweet, Salty received the youth jury prize at the Singapore International Film Festival in December 2019.

Get access to Sweet, Salty here.

(Photos: Objectifs)

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