An award-winning documentary about Singapore will have its USA premiere at the Film Society of Lincoln Center this Saturday, April 18. Described on the Film Society’s web-page as “A striking vérité snapshot of present-day Singapore that doubles as a semi-mystical cinematic incantation conjuring ghosts from the country’s history,” Daniel Hui’s Snakeskin received the Torino Film Festival’s Special Jury Award last year.
The film is set in the future, shows images of the present, and calls up the ghostly past. “In 2066, the lone survivor of a cult projects footage shot by his divine leader, who claimed to be the reincarnation of Stamford Raffles, the British statesman who founded Singapore. Both living and dead subjects candidly reminisce about love, race, revolution, and the Malay film industry as muted images from 2014 of the city-state’s streets and harbors—key locations of the cult’s future founding—flash by.” The film is co-produced by 13 Little Pictures and Primeira Idade. Tickets are available on the Film Society website.
In his director’s statement, Daniel Hui writes:
The 1950s is a fascinating era in Singapore’s history. It was a time when Singapore had the most vibrant film industry in the region. It was also a time of great political upheaval. Watching the cinema of this era, I have always found many parallels between its ideals and the ideals of activists and politicians at that time. Both wanted a racially-integrated society that is independent and egalitarian.
Unfortunately, a lot of this history has been either forgotten, erased, or rewritten. This film is dedicated to the people who have fallen through the gaps of history. Their ghosts remain with us, in our dreams, in our hallucinations, in our unconscious. In the deep of the night, when the ring of money has died down, we can still hear their voices warning us of the future to come.
Daniel Hui is a filmmaker and writer. A graduate of the film program in California Institute of the Arts, his films have been screened at film festivals in Rotterdam, Hawaii, Manila, Seoul, Bangkok, and Vladivostok. His writings have been published in prominent cinema journals, including the Cinematheque Quarterly of the National Museum Singapore. He is the contributing editor to the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC) online journal, Cinemas of Asia. He is also one of the founding members of 13 Little Pictures, an independent film collective whose films have garnered critical acclaim all around the world. He recently won the Special Jury Award at the TFFDoc section of the Torino Film Festival for his second feature film Snakeskin.