Saturday, December 15, 2018

More than a Mere Time Capsule

Shirkers (2018) - Tan
There are movers and there are shakers, then there are shirkers, narrates Sandi Tan, reminiscing about making the greatest indie movie in Singaporean history in the 80s that never saw the day of light. She and her best friends Jasmine and Sophia, rebelling punk girls back then, decided to make a film with the help of Georges Cardona, a enigmatic adult with haunting eyes and cool demeanor who owned the film collective or sort in Singapore at the time. Written by and starring Tan herself as a 16 year old heroine "S" that Sophia later describes as a 'mood piece', Shirkers was a labor of love and youthful passion project. The girls went their separate ways, literally right after the wrap, to LA, London and New York respectively for their schooling, leaving the finished film in the cans to Cardona. With his peculiar ways of communicating - sending audio tapes which he seldom did, the film sat and never got put together for years. It put a lot of strain on the friendship among three girls and Cardona seemed simply disappeared from the face of the earth with the unedited 70 cans of footage and all the meticulous production notes and sound tapes and props.

Tan went on to be a film critic and a writer/filmmaker. But Shirkers, the vanished, unedited film of a good chunk of her youth haunted her for 25 years. The documentary becomes a detective story as Tan looks back and trying to locate the illusive film that is a testament of her lost youth which is much more than just a time capsule.

I know that filmmaking is hard. Finishing it takes a lot of effort and determination. Shirkers spoke to me in a lot of different ways and invoked a lot of different emotions in me that I hid it from myself over the years. Independent filmmaking is truly a medium of self expression but because it's a communal medium as well, being an asshole is an absolute necessity- I don't care what others say, it's a very narcissistic endeavor.

Shirkers is a very entertaining, touching concoction film about filmmaking. It works because it's so personal.