Moonmen’s nine-minute film Chiak!

Chiak, which is about a son’s struggle to deal with his father’s dementia, beat out two other contenders to clinch the winner’s spot and a cash prize of $3,000. Their film will also be shown in selected Golden Village theatres in the next two weeks.

From left: Marcus Goh, filmmaker of Raffles v Sang Nila Utama: Dawn of Singapore; Alvin Lim, Wesley Lim and Joshuah Lim En of Moonmen, filmmakers of Chiak; Jean Goh and Jedidiah Neo of The Apex Project, filmmakers of Sugar. (Credit: Golden Village)

From left: Marcus Goh, filmmaker of Raffles v Sang Nila Utama: Dawn of Singapore; Alvin Lim, Wesley Lim and Joshuah Lim En of Moonmen, filmmakers of Chiak; Jean Goh and Jedidiah Neo of The Apex Project, filmmakers of Sugar. (Credit: Golden Village)

In April this year, more than 200 aspiring filmmakers had heeded Golden Village’s call to submit their application to make a film based on the theme “Past, Present & Future”. Eventually, only eight films were shortlisted and a final three made it to the last round, where each team was given $2,000 to make their short film. They also had the opportunity to be respectively mentored by homegrown local directors Kelvin Tong (The MaidRule #1It’s A Great Great World) and Boris Boo (Love MattersWhere Got GhostLucky Boy),  as well as YouTubers Tree Potatoes. These mentors also pulled double duty on the judging panel, where they were joined by Singapore Film Society President Kenneth Tan, and Golden Village’s Head of Programming Sharanjit Kaur.

Earlier in October, a voting contest was held on Golden Village’s Facebook page, in which the public’s voice also counted as one collective vote.

The Popping Post writer Marcus Goh’s entry Raffles v Utama: Dawn of Singapore and The Apex Project’s short film Sugar were the two runners-up in the competition. Raffles sees a trio of students unwittingly summon the ghosts of Temasek prince Sang Nila Utama and colonial British explorer Sir Stamford Thomas Raffles when they bicker over who is the true founder of Singapore. In Sugar, a mother and her estranged daughter try to cross the bridge over troubled waters by going back in time.

GV crowned the directors of the winning film last night at a finale event held at GV Paya Lebar, its newest and first all-laser projection cineplex.

Addressing the gathering of contestants’ friends, family, and members of the media at the finale event last night, director Kelvin Tong lauded all three finalists for having put in great effort into their productions. “I think that a wide range of stories have been represented here, which goes to show that this competition has been rather inclusive,” he said.

Director Boris Boo, who mentored the winning team Moonmen, said that the team may have initially found it difficult to put their concept through film, but had “a lot of heart and did it”.

Singaporean director Boris Boo with Moonmen. (Credit: Golden Village)

Singaporean director Boris Boo with Moonmen. (Credit: Golden Village)

Speaking to The Popping Post after the results were announced yesterday, Moonmen, which comprise director Joshuah Lim En, 22, producer and soundman Alvin Lim, 26, and editor/colourist/everything-else Wesley Lim, 23, said that they were pleasantly surprised that they had won the competition with the first film they have made.

The three ex-classmates from Nanyang Polytechnic’s School of Interactive and Digital Media had decided to join the GV25 Film Shorts after Joshuah’s leukemia (he was just diagnosed in August last year) had gone into remission. Said Joshuah, whose day job is a children’s church coordinator, “I had always talked about making a film, but always said it would be ‘next time’. But what if there isn’t a next time?” Having experienced firsthand the frustrations of caring for elderly dementia patients, Joshuah decided to make a film targeted at their caretakers.

Initially wanting to make something more artsy, the Moonmen in the end decided to stick to something more “relatable and traditional”. “We realised that we were too ambitious. We wanted people to feel all the emotions… and also look cool,” said Alvin, with Wesley adding that they had “wanted to displace the past, present and future” in a Chris Nolan type of non-chronological story framework.

Their conservative hedging paid off and the Moonmen are splitting the prize money three ways.

When asked why Chiak was unanimously picked by the judges as the winning piece, director Kelvin Tong said, “It was obvious that among the three, their film had the most personal investment. You can tell that the filmmakers had been through it and knew about the subject matter.”

Indeed, the most common mistake of amateur short filmmakers is not comprehending that the framework of a short film cannot tell a story like a full-fledged feature, just as a poem cannot function like a novel, said Kelvin Tong. And the hardest thing about making a short film? Making the audience think about it even after the film has ended, he said.

Having been the The Apex Project’s mentor, Tong said that Sugar was a very layered film which dealt with something very difficult. He praised the lead actress, Jean Goh, who is a singer and songwriter in her own right, for her “understated” acting skills. The eponymous song written and sung by her was also the icing on the cake, he said.

Jean, who co-wrote the script of the short film Sugar with director Jedidiah Neo, explained that she roped in her own mother (to play her mother) and her five-year-old niece (to play her younger self) in the film. When asked if she preferred the silver screen or or the microphone, Jean, incidentally a former child actor (she had acted in TCS drama serial The Price of Peace in 1997, when she was six), said that she preferred acting. If you watch her nuanced but moving performance in Sugar, you’ll know that Jean Goh is a face to watch.

Marcus Goh’s Raffles is the only comedy out of the three films. “I thought that the film was very emblematic of its maker. It’s funny and witty. It’s nice to watch something that dares to be funny and quirky,” said Tong.

Truth to be told, we at The Popping Post were a little more than sad that Raffles didn’t win, but Marcus shared that what he took from the experience was the heartwarming fact that a “sheer number of people” pitched in to help. “I don’t think I could have asked for a better cast and crew. When I first started, I had no idea how I’d be able to shoot the short film, but hey we managed to pull through.”

The filmmakers, members of their cast, and the judging panel. (Credit: Golden Village)

The filmmakers, members of their cast, and the judging panel. (Credit: Golden Village)

While only Chiak will be screened in selected GV cinemas during previews, you can catch all three short films here.


Raffles v Utama: Dawn of Singpore