Archive for the ‘Diminishing Memories I: Media Reports’ Category

Straits Times, 8th Feb 2007 (Thursday) Pg1-2
 
UPFRONT
BY ONG SOR FERN
FILM CORRESPONDENT
TWO years ago film-maker Grace Phan found herself racing full tilt towards a
crowd of demonstrators camped out in front of the Palace of Ashes in Dili.
She had just landed in the East Timor capital to begin shooting a documentary
about President Xanana Gusmao, and was trying to capture him addressing the
crowd.
She decided she could get it done more easily than her crew of three men. “I
felt I’d be safer than the guys,” she said. When she reached the crowd, it made way for her.
She got the shot she wanted. Intrepid female documentary film-makers like Phan are a growing
breed here.  Their work is winning acclaim from film festivals and drawing increasing
viewership on cable channels.
Phan’s documentary, Where The Sun Rises, won Amnesty International’s award for
Movies That Matter at the Jakarta International Film Festival last year.
Singapore GaGa, by Tan Pin Pin, 37, became the first documentary to get a
theatrical release here last year and was also shown at New York’s Museum Of
Modern Art.
Cinema du Reel, a documentary film festival at the Pompidou Centre in Paris,
has two Singapore documentaries in its line-up this year: Aki Ra’s Boys by Lynn
Lee and James Leong, and Match Made by Mirabelle Ang. Even novice documentarians are
doing well.  Eng Yee Peng’s short documentary Diminishing Memories, about village life in
Lim Chu Kang, won a Best Tertiary Documentary Award at 2005’s Queensland New
Filmmakers Award and has travelled to other renowned festivals.
The list goes on: Innocent, co-directed by Gek Li San and Ho Choon Hiong;
Singapore Standard Time by Joycelyn Khoo, Lo Hwei Shan, Loo Pei Yi and Serene
Ng; Jasmine Ng’s Pink Paddlers, which will have a charity premiere at The Grand
Cathay on March 27.
This is a veritable avalanche compared to 10 years ago. Then, there were no
female documentarians. Now, there are at least 10 working both full-time and
part-time.  Discovery’s vice-president of production and development Vikram Channa said
documentary makers here are evenly split between men and women.
Women directors do concede that they have certain advantages when it comes to
making documentaries.  As Phan found out, a woman appears physically less intimidating than
a man, and that can be an advantage in volatile situations.  Of course there is a flip side,
as Jasmine Ng, 34, pointed out. She recalled filming a Muslim religious festival in Mumbai where
men flagellated themselves.  After a while, she felt that she was intruding despite the men’s polite
accommodation of her presence. She said: “There are some places you just cannot
be.”  Women are also right when it comes to the emotive aspect of documentaries,
which are real stories about real people. 
 
As Eng said: “Making documentaries, you feel closer to the
subjects and their stories and their hearts. I like the intimacy.”
Ms Mok Choy Lin, supervising producer with National Geographic Channel Asia
which commissions documentaries from local film-makers, said: “We recently
finished one documentary where the female director had to interview terminally
ill patients. To get someone on their deathbed to talk to you, you need an
incredible level of trust.”  Mr Channa noted that personal engagement with the stories often drive
women documentarians.  “What does stand out is that some of the female directors who have come
to us have come with ‘passion projects’, subjects they personally care about deeply,
ideas they have been living with for some time.”  Among them was Pek Siok Lian’s Born Again Buddhists,
about Bhutan’s reincarnated spiritual leaders, which was eighth in the most-watched list of
programmes in Singapore last year.
Director James Leong, 35, said his co-director Lynn Lee, 33, brought a woman’s
sensitivity to Passabe, about an East Timor village struggling to come to terms
with a massacre. At her insistence, they included the story of a woman whose
husband was charged with crimes against humanity.
Leong said: “For me the film was all about violence and revenge. When we came
to this softer side, I was impatient. I didn’t see it.”
Explaining her different perspective, Lee said: “As a woman, you wonder how the
women deal with it, how they bring up children, how they cope. They tend to be
not so vocal.”
This trait of giving voice to the unheard and marginalised, the forgotten and
neglected, is something that recurs in the women’s work.
This phenomenon of female documentarians seems to be a worldwide trend. Look at
the line-up of every major documentary film festival and there is a more even
distribution between male and female directors.
Male documentary film-maker Ng Khee Jin, 44, thinks that the patience required
by the genre also explains why women are good with documentaries.
Aside from the touchy feely stuff, the practical aspects of film-making also
play a part.
Tan said: “To me, it’s all about resources. I want to make films here and now.
The documentary process allows me to do that.”
She shot Singapore GaGa on a shoestring budget of $100,000 over a year, often
operating the camera herself. And she fit the shoot in between other paying
jobs.
Essay documentaries, like the ones she makes, offer flexibility. “One can shoot
and edit in between other jobs or other family commitments,” she said.
Everyone says it is impossible to make a living from documentaries.
Leong and Lee have sold their documentary to the prestigious Franco-Germany
television network Arte. But that earned them only a couple of thousand euros,
hardly enough to recoup the $200,000 they spent making Passabe.
They received funding support from the Singapore Film Commission and won grants
from the Rockefeller Foundation as well as a sizable post-production award,
US$35,000 (S$54,000), from the prestigious Sundance Institute.
Lee said: “Most of the time, we pay for the privilege of doing documentaries.”
As Eng said: “The payoff is totally non-financial.”
眉批当下双周谈、文锋快语- 早报言论 9/12/2006
 
几天前,我看了本地影视工作者翁燕萍拍摄的《悄逝的记忆》,
影片叙述了20年前的林厝港平静而充满人情味的乡村生活(翁燕萍特
意用“悄逝”一词,表示事物的悄悄消逝)。纪录片里受访的老居民
大部分都怀念当时的林厝港,但很多人表示不想回去看,因为:一切
全变了!
  “一切全变了”,这是现代人常有的感慨。一个发展中的社会处
在不断的变迁之中,很多时候这变迁带给人们的是“失忆”。这是发
展的代价,但是,发展真的一定要建立在废墟上吗?发展一定要使人
们陷入无所依托的乡愁吗?是否存在这样一个标尺,使发展在变迁和
保留之间求得一种平衡,使人们在得到发展带来的好处的同时也多少
保留一点儿心灵的归属感?
  《悄逝的记忆》里还使我联想到目前在中国发生的状况。在所有
大小城市,老建筑都被喷上一个巨大雪白的“拆”字,到处是轰然倒
塌的巨响。有人自豪地说,世界上三分之二的吊车在中国,中国消耗
了世界50%的水泥。在一个具有五千年历史的国家,在一个具有上百
种不同方言和风俗的国家,所有的城市都被以统一的丑陋模式打造,
然后推翻,然后再打造。
  我的故乡曾是一个颇有历史的县城,而在政府盲目的发展改造后
,它每一年都经历着拆迁、修路、扩建。环绕全城的古城墙被拆毁,
东南西北四个护城湖塘全被填平。我每次回乡都会迷路,因为记忆中
的东西全被抹去。
  我从不质疑一个国家科学地“发展”的需要,因为社会如逆水行
舟,不进则退。但是在发展之前,在各种重建、改建之前,我们能不
能再次审视一下变迁与保留的标尺,能不能慎重地对待我们的传统、
历史还有某代人的记忆?这些旧有的事物不一定代表落后,它不一定
不能和未来和谐地共存。我们应该可以保留一个乡风淳朴的林厝港,
保留一个原汁原味的牛车水。关键是怎样去拿捏变迁与保留的平衡,
使其不成为彼此的障碍,反成为美好的烘托。

凝聚力在于共同生活经验

  在某些基于发展需要的改建中,人民的感情、对于旧有事物和传
统的依恋是否也应被考虑在内?我记得旧国家图书馆将被拆毁时,很
多国人请愿,希望保留住这个属于全新加坡人的童年净土。

  我们担心,很多历史的见证也会这样一个个从我们身边消失,不
是因为自然凋亡的法则,而是因为改造和发展。当这些东西消失时,
那种维系一个族群情感的共同经验是否也会消失,或者至少削弱?有
时候,所谓凝聚力并不是依附于某种政治的教育和号召,它更多地依
附于共同的生活经验、共同的见证,它可能来源于人们对于某种建筑
、某个地方的共同记忆。而如果悠久的、根植于记忆的实物被改造殆
尽,我们对于一个地方的情感也将无所依附。
  因此,如能赋予发展以更多人情味的考量,如能在发展同时更注
重保留,这样的发展会更得人心。在欧洲很多城镇,你总会发觉自己
走在好几个世纪前的道路上,置身于古老的建筑中。人们保留了古典
,在它的内部建立起自己新的舒适家园。历史感在你心头涌起,让你
肃然起敬。这种保留和修缮是一种更高明的发展。
  在今天的林厝港建SPA馆、豪华度假设施,可能是个不错的计划
,但一定要保留住那里真正的乡村气氛,不要抹煞它仅存的特征。变
迁没有错,但别忘记保留一片净土,别忘记在万千变幻中留住一点永
恒、一种可供记忆和心灵朝拜的纪念。

·作者是自由撰稿人

29/10/2006   早报、新闻 – 《不怕发展但怕乡土褪色 她用短片“记忆”林厝港》 by 邓莉蓉
林厝港早期是个热闹的农村,上世纪70年代末,政府开始收回土
地进行规划,村民陆续迁到新组屋区,高科技农场随后进驻,林厝港
才渐渐被都市人淡忘。
  政府最近宣布在林厝港展开试验性计划,允许结合农业与休闲及
娱乐(agri-tainment)的发展项目,增添让公众享用的设施。
  有人担心林厝港变得过于商业化,仅存的乡土气息将荡然无存;
但也有人乐见其成,认为能通过重建,让年轻一代有机会认识和体验
乡村生活。
  他们心情背后的矛盾与挣扎是什么?人们对新林厝港有哪些期待
和保留?  翁燕萍在林厝港的老家出世,那里当时是个农村地区,有
养猪场、家禽农场、橡胶园等。甘榜里的花草树木、蜻蜓蝴蝶、果树
、雨水、小动物等就是她的玩伴,还有许多住在附近的堂兄弟姐妹、
邻居等,陪她度过美好的童年岁月。

  “以前乡村地方很大,亲戚都住得很近,常常聚在一起。我们小
孩子一听到橡胶果实从树上掉下来,就会跑去捡起来,把里面的种子
拿出来玩,就地取材。下雨时就会去玩水,很开心。”
  根据资料,林厝港区在1990年人口约有4400人,更早时期估计有
超过1000户人家。那里最著名的三个村落分别为亚妈宫、通和村及南
和村。
  建国初期,我国迅速工业化,60年代开始逐步展开全岛性搬迁计
划,乡村由林立的组屋取代。
  1986年,翁燕萍一家六口也接获通知,搬迁到裕廊西新镇
组屋。当她再回到林厝港时,推土机已经把一间间的锌板屋夷为平地
  “看到这番景象,眼泪马上夺眶而出,自己的家被拆了觉得很难
过。父亲最初也很生气,搬了家之后,生活费提高,生意也不太好。
母亲就比较看得开,会顾全大局。因为是为了国家发展,所以比较能
够接受。”纪录片《悄逝的记忆》
在澳洲获奖

转眼过了20年,翁燕萍依然怀念林厝港,期间也不时和家人回去
走走看看。她在两年前制作了一部有关林厝港的纪录片《悄逝的记忆
》,透过镜头捕捉当时的生活面貌和历史,也访问了不少前居民。

  这部影片在澳洲昆士兰州的一个电影新人奖的竞赛中夺得“最佳
大专学府纪录片奖”,也曾在多个国家与地区放映。短片上星期在国
家博物馆播映,吸引近120名观众捧场。
  林厝港最后一批组屋居民在2000年的选择性整体重建计划下搬迁
。多年来,政府一直将林厝港保留为田园地区,并没有在此大兴土木
  它通过土地招标活动让有意经营农场的业者在林厝港落户,并只
限于农业用途。林厝港目前约有100家农场业者,包括牧羊场、蛋鸡
场、渔场等。不少新加坡人喜欢在周末到农场参观,感受有别于市区
的乡村气息。
  当获知林厝港将有新休闲设施时,翁燕萍最初感到担忧,甚至投
函到本报《交流版》,表示不愿林厝港纯朴宁静的环境被破坏。
  她在受访时坦承,当时是太感情用事了。心情沉淀后,她已能理
性地看待这件事。
  “我很怕(林厝港)会变成一个很商业化的地方。新加坡现在已
经到处都是同个模样了,不要把它也变成像东海岸公园或白沙公园那
样。虽然林厝港已不同于往日,但样子还是有的,旧车站、灯柱等都
还在,还找得回一些旧的感觉。”
  “不过,也不可以太悲观,因为我感觉得出,(政府)是有心的
。他们并不只是专注于发展,也参考历史并关心人的感情。市区重建
局今年3月就曾找过我,要看我制作的纪录片,所以我感觉得出他们
有诚意去了解历史。”
  影片中,受访的村民们回忆着当初搬迁后,努力适应新环境的过
程。但日子久了,人们对林厝港的记忆也开始褪色。一名在组屋区开
店的老板在影片中说:“来到这边(组屋区)就想这边了。不想回去
,当初如果可以,应该早一点搬出来。搬迁是对的,大家的生活都比
以前好。”
  然而,更多人还是放不下林厝港,他们说,以后如果有经济能力
,还想回到林厝港去住,但怕这只是个梦想,这辈子都难以实现。陈清木:
林厝港要进步和发展

前国会议员陈清木医生未踏入政坛之前,在林厝港的亚妈宫开设
诊所,在乡村里为村民看病超过十年。

  现在的亚妈宫诊所位于裕廊西一带,不少老村民到今天还经常到
陈清木的诊所看病。
  记者日前到他位于荷兰林通道的住家采访。刚在今年退出政坛的
亚逸拉惹前议员陈清木形容那段时光为他“一生中最美好的日子”。
他笑说:“我的诊所现在成为旧林厝港村民的聚集地,你们早上千万
别到我的诊所来,我的‘老女友’和‘老男友’都在那里等我呢。”
  陈清木住家后院的墙上挂着亚妈宫的旧路牌,是他当年向政府标
下的,以纪念那一段在林厝港的难忘岁月。
  对于林厝港的实验性计划,陈请木充满期待:“我们应该向外发
展,林厝港毕竟已经不可能像七八十年代那样了。要与时并进才会有
进步和发展,划定一些地方,有家庭消闲为主题的,有各种不同活动
让新加坡人参与的,即使有一些小型的咖啡座或Spa也无妨。”
  “我不同意将林厝港继续保留为原来样貌,改变是无可避免的,
但改变不一定要破坏。林厝港一些特别的地方是可以重建的,我不能
自私地把林厝港‘占为己有’,而是要把它美丽的一面和其他人分享
。”重建生机勃勃的乡村

56岁的华印混血儿爱慧·星(Ivy Singh)认为,林厝港应该重
建起来,制造一个生机勃勃的乡村地区,重造以前的“甘榜生活”。

  爱慧·星不是林厝港“原住民”,她和先生林穆升在2000年以每
年6万元的租金向政府标下一块约4公顷的地。两人退休后在梁宙路(
Neo Tiew Road)搭起房子,开辟有机蔬菜农场,过着隐居田园的生
活。
  访问当天,翁燕萍和哥哥随记者来到爱慧·星的蔬菜农场“
Bollywood Veggies”。爱慧·星也观看了翁燕萍制作的《悄逝的记
忆》,赞赏之余也认为影片的基调有些悲观,认为年轻一代应该以更
积极的态度去看待林厝港的新发展。
  她说:“我们可以把林厝港发展起来,重新创造乡村生活。我相
信乡村可以成为第二经济体,为那些没办法提升技能的人提供就业机
会。因此我们会奋斗,确保这里受保留为乡村。”
  不过,她也强调,新设施必须和乡村朴实的特质相辅相成,而不
是去复制另一个“植物园、东海岸公园或圣淘沙”。爱慧·星也是代
表林厝港11个农场业者的克兰芝协会主席,她说,现有业者将采取主
动同有关当局商讨如何进行新发展。
  她说:“我们要参与决策的过程,表达我们的意愿,希望林厝港
有怎样的发展,知道新业者有怎样的发展计划等。”
  在特定的限制与条件下发展,爱慧·星有信心政府做得到。她认
为,政府现在已经意识到林厝港的特殊意义,并将努力保留它的乡村
特质。国大萨维奇:应尽可能完整保留

新加坡国立大学地理系副教授萨维奇(Victor Savage)受访时
说,林厝港是个具有历史意义的老区,如果兴建更多建筑和引进商业
活动,将抹去它的历史回忆与价值。他认为,应尽可能完整地保留林
厝港。

  萨维奇也指出,开发更多商业设施必将带来更多人潮,同样也会
影响林厝港原有的乡村风味。他说:“人们喜欢林厝港的恬静和悠闲
,有了新设施后,大家都涌到林厝港去,那种感觉怎么会一样呢?业
者做生意,必然希望人潮越多越好,政府可以限制商业活动和发展,
但这也将形成双方利益矛盾和冲突。”
  土管局受询时说,至今已售出至少30份投标书。招标截止日期是
12月5日。