Colonialism painted the history of Southeast Asian countries. Their definition as a country tightly linked to the European countries that used to colonize them. Singapore is no different. Fifty-one years after its liberation, Singapore has become a miniature of those powerhouse countries and a mecca of modernity to its fellow Southeast Asian countries. Colonialism lingered still in this country however, in different form. A rapid growing in a country means that it went through several phases of conflicts in ethnicity, social, and sectarian. The four SEADoc films, collaborating with Asian Film Archive (AFA), try to showcase this complexity, following Singapore’s transformation and problems it has faced since the ruling of Lee Kwan Yee, to the faraway future.
The Songs We Sang (Eva Tang, 2016) pictures a shift in Singaporean culture as Chinese tradition, once major in Singapore, slowly pushed aside and English language became a landmark for progress. The director uses Chinese folk music as a door to old generations’ nostalgia of when the traditional music was on its glory. Before the rumors of communism’s reestablishment was voiced by certain groups in Indonesia, Singapore had its own brand of phenomena in 1987 during the transition of Lee Kwan Yew to his son. 1987: Untracing the Conspiracy (Jason Soo, 2015) recorded the stories of Singapore’s ex-detainees accused as part Marxists movements in Singapore, who brought with them tales of unspeakable acts behind the bars. 03-FLATS (Lei Yuan Bin, 2015) captures the dynamic of Singapore citizens and their urban life, marked by the first Singapore’s housing project as in the 60s. Beyond the walls of the flats, the film records relationship between subjects, three of them being a woman, as a modern human. Jumping to year 2066, Snakeskin (Daniel Hui, 2014) tries to read the complexity of Singapore citizens with its different ethnicity, social taboos, and dissipating humanity under the lulls of modernity.