A young archaeologist talks about digging into the recent past of Singapore. A retired photographer reminisces about his ethnographic records of native peoples in Malaya. A journalist challenges the official state narrative of his radical student days. These are the articulate and confounding protagonists of Tan Pin Pin’s groundbreaking documentary Invisible City. Tying these stories together is the director’s deep sense of the fragility of memories, whether they are threatened by general indifference, physical deterioration of person and equipment, or political struggle. Tan also records never-before-seen film footage and photographs from the interviewees’ personal archives, preserving and presenting them with an unobstrusive yet perceptive director’s eye.
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“A witty, intellectually challenging essay on history and memory as tools of civil resistance.”
– Citation, Cinema du Reel
“This film brings new inspiration to the telling of Asian histories.”
– Taiwan International Documentary Festival
“The film invites debate about how the past can be remembered and history written, objectively, without fear or favour.”
– Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore
– Awards –
Asian Vision Award, Taiwan International Documentary Festival
Prix de la SCAM, Cinema du Reel
Asian Cinema Fund, Busan International Film Festival
Singapore-based filmmaker Tan Pin Pin blogs at Notes from Serangoon Road. From her blog: “Tan Pin Pin’s films, explorations of Singapore, her histories, contexts and limits have found loyal followers in different contexts. They have screened at notable festivals like Berlin, Pusan, Cinema du Reel, Visions du Reel, Rotterdam and at the Flaherty Seminar. They have also screened internationally on Discovery Channel. In Singapore, they have received sold out theatrical screenings, toured schools and was acquired by Singapore Airlines for their in-flight entertainment services. Meanwhile, her video installations were shown in the President’s Young Talent Show, Singapore Art Show, p-10, Aedes Gallery, Berlin.
She has won or been nominated for more than 20 awards, most recently for Invisible City. The citation from Cinema du Reel describes it as “A witty, intellectually challenging essay on history and memory as tools of civil resistance”. Singapore GaGa, voted the Best Film, 2006, Straits Times, is described as “One of the best films about Singapore”. Pin Pin won a scholarship to study for an MFA at Northwestern University, USA. Moving House, her thesis film won the Student Academy Award for Best Documentary.”