Contingencies of Now – Singapore Shorts 2017-2018

This selection of short films from Singapore responds to states of flux in the exterior beyond an individual’s control which affect and mould human actions, decisions, perspectives and ultimately, how one chooses to engage with the unpredictable vibrancy of non-human phenomena.

Total Duration: 63min

Between Pudukkottai & Singapore – Poems by N Rengarajan (2017)

19:00 min
Vishal Daryanomel, Singapore

A portrait of N Rengaraja, a migrant worker from Pudukkottai, India, who sustains a practice of poetry as a way of life while working in the construction sector in Singapore. This documentary brings forth his perspectives into the fateful circumstance of migrants working in an industry where the exploitation of transnational labour is a blatant reality. Structured around three poems by N Rengaraja, The film enacts a translation of the rhythmic and tonal quality of his writing, where filmic expression is critically distant yet gently present in the form of the poet’s acute illuminations of simple truths lying beneath the tide of circumstance.

Vishal Daryanomel has spent time with various NGOs in Singapore, and has been part of the organizing committee of migrant poetry events since 2014. His interests include exploring how film be used as a tool of testimony and empowerment for minority and marginalized voices. His documentary short, Between Pudukkottai &Singapore, has been screened in various festivals in Southeast Asia, Europe, and North America.

Row (2017)

10 min
Amanda Tan Hui Teng, Singapore

Apiece of direct filmmaking that follows the working day of Nasir Basir, one the the last remaining traditional fishermen in Singapore. Row stands out from the atypical documentary from that heavily relies on verbal communication when human subjects are concerned adopting a cinema of gestures through persistent and close observation. It transfixes its frame on the expressive potency of the labourer’s actions and expressions which unfold in tandem with the unpredictable turbulence of the sea. Bringing to mind the work of Harvard University’s Sensory Ethnography Lab. Row enacts a strategic means of expression that harbours an intense fidelity to the rhythms of an event unfolding.

Amanda is a filmmaker in Singapore who hopes shed light on societal issues and people with powerful stories. She also delves into film scoring, and has a fondness for psychological thrillers.

Five Trees (2017)

10 min
Nelson Yeo, Singapore

A pair of old lovers meet near the sea, an idyllic place for weathered souls to recollect and reminiscence on their distant memories, but soon find themselves floating in a solumbulistic environment not quite human. In Nelson’s Five Trees, nostalgia and longing give way to a sly outlook on mortality and the futility of memories in an overturning of an all too common melodramatic narrative trope in Singapore Cinema and its obsession with heritage. Five Tree’s hybrid from poses a self-reflexivity that enacts a dissection of its own structure, peeling away its veneer to reveal the bare imperative of human sentiments upon which a primordial presence observes and judges.

Nelson Yeo is a Singaporean filmmaker whose films have been screened at various local and international film festivals. He graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Digital Filmmaking from Nanyang Technological University in 2011. He participated in Berlinale Talents Tokyo in 2014, BiFan Fantastic Film School in 2015 and Locarno Filmmakers Academy in 2018. He is currently working on his debut feature film which was selected to participate in SCIFF Southeast Asian Film Lab 2017.

Shelf Life (2018)

6 min
Ryan Benjamin Lee, Singapore

A self-contained spiral of curious household objects in all directions packed with an affective punch tat rivals Toy Story’s dramatic arch. Utilising GIF image making as its aesthetic framework. Shelf Life sheds light on post obsessions and the quirks of consumerist trends through an accumulation of once loved and now forgotten objects. Possessed by their own displaced aura, the objects enact a dance from the netherworld of the past to the immediacy of our perception in the present, flashing the uncanny presence of matter devoid of any utility.

Ryan Benjamin Lee (b.1997) is a moving image artist whose practice utilises video art, installations, GIF-making, sampling and (re)animation to create a range of media assemblages. Grounded in an interest in material investigation, his artworks explore the relationship between physical and virtual spaces and how our post-internet experiences seamlessly merge the two. As such, his works often have a sculptural or site-specific quality to them.

Atlantis of the Global South (2017)

9 min
Ihttt, Singapore

Contemporary geopolitics relies on the visualisation of nature as a stable chessboard where dynamic human chess pieces are played on top. As humanity creeps deeper into the Anthropocene, when hard soil transforms into soft land under the rising tides of climate change, the above basis will no longer be valid. An active and autonomous nature will enforce a reformation, formulating a new reality no longer built in human’s image. Atlantis of the Global South narrates this epochal power transition when the object become subjects, as struggle stops and acceptance starts, when anthropocentric control fades and anthropocentric awareness dawns.

Ihttt (abbreviated from lies, half-truths, truths, true-trues) is a Singapore-based design team started by Sant Ruengjawuwatana and Chantal Tan. They operate along the queer spectrum between print and screen, offline and online, still and moving, flat and multi-dimensional, object and subjects, solid and spatial, lies and true-trues. Their interest lies in the updating of communication strategies (visual and non-visual) for the new synthetic and subjective media landscape brokered by the current geological epoch, the Anthropocene.

Escape Velocity II (2018)

9 min
Zai Tang & Simon Ball, Singapore

A hand drawn score of field recordings from a trail of wilderness in Singapore is melded into a cinematic environment in this collaboration between Zai Tang and animator Simon Ball. Escape Velocity II plunges into a cavity of digitally rendered space where phenomena are sensed through an endless flow of visual strokes and particles that figurate and dissipate in tandem with the sonorous sounds of nature. As an interface for the human perception of the non-human world, this synaesthetic assemblage deviates from the homogeneous framework of modernity and its anthropocentric tendencies. It prepossess a self-constituted ethics and findings its own pace in the pace in the observation of the uncanny uncontainable vitality of our exterior.

Zai Tang‘s practice focuses on the abstraction and visualisation of wildlife sound recordings as a means of responding to the spectre of mass extinction. Once abstracted from their original state these sororities are combined with other elements – drawing, animation, projection and / or performance – to create immersive and reflexive experiences that explore sound and listening as a mediator of awareness, presence and interconnection between the human and the non-human. Zai has presented his solo and collaborative work locally and internationally. The 2nd Yinchuan Biennale (2018), SIFA (2017), National Gallery Singapore (2017), Esplanade’s da:ns Festival (2013/2016), ISFF Oberhausen (2012) with Lucy Davis, and the 52nd / 56th Venice Biennale (2007/2015) with Tang Da Wu and Charles Lim respectively.

Simon Ball is a filmmaker and animator based in London and Berlin. He has a BA in film and media production, a Masters in Digital Arts and over ten years experience working accross Film, Television and Commercial animation. As an artist, Simon’s work investigates film and animation as experiential mediums. Many of his projects are inspired by urban spaces and how we relate to environments both physically and psychologically. His film have shown in galleries, festivals and exhibitions including Tate Modern, Barbican, Saatchi Gallery, London Short Film Festival, London International Animation Festival and Open City Docs Fest.



Low Zu Boon loves to watch, write and present cinema, and he remains severely in debt to the medium’s possibilities. He worked as a film programmer at the National Museum of Singapore Cinematheque (2011-2015) and the Singapore International Film Festival (2015/2018). He spends just as much time cosuming music, and recently started Worthless Dispatch, a limited-run cassette tape label.