7 Letters, each a heartfelt tribute by 7 Singaporean directors is a wonderful anthology of short films. Each is interwoven with personal memories and experiences, earnestly retold by each of the seven directors.
Each of the seven letters hints of very genuine and un-embellished experiences. It is easy to end up picking a single favorite experience or letter out of the seven but doing so would perhaps undermine the collective stories of love, loss and reconciliation.
7 Letters starts of with Eric Khoo’s Cinema, as it gently laments the loss of the golden era of Singapore Cinema. His love for the medium of film extends beyond the silver screens of Shaw and Cathay but the wonderful racial mélange of communities that surrounded that short-lived industry in the 1950s and 1960s.
Even Jack Neo resists his usual attempts to dumb down the content of his work by focusing on a story (That Girl) familiar to the typical of hardworking and honest Singaporeans. Neo proudly impresses that while the props and sets may have changed, the core ethic of the typical Singaporean may not have.
In love and duty for the nation, family and self, K Rajagopal’s The Flame retells of the difficult inner struggle to reconcile these.
Royston Tan’s whimsical story of Bunga Sayang explores a sweetly charming relationship between a young boy and his elderly Malay neighbor. Bunga Sayang ponders about beauty in the spaces of time and imagination that the rest of us have unwittingly lost.
Typically, a documentary film-maker by trade, Tan Pin Pin’s Pineapple Town is instead, a simmering drama about the adoption of a Malaysian child by a Singaporean family. Separated from birth, Pineapple town mirrors the geopolitik of both nations and evokes questions about the losses between the two nations as they further their paths of divergence.
Boo Junfeng’s Parting follows Ismail’s painfully nostalgia trip back from Malaysia via the now defunct Tanjong Pagar Railway Station to find his long lost beau. From a time where interracial relationships were forbidden to 50 years later. Boo’s Parting is a powerful journey about loss and a memory reconstituted in its reconciliation. (Also, Boo seems to have paid a small tribute to his alma mater by featuring Chung Cheng High School)
7 Letters finally ends off strongly with Kelvin Tong’s GPS: Grandma Positioning System. At its heart, GPS is simple narrative mechanic that tells of the differences in the traditions and modernity in the relationship of a typical three-generational Singaporean family unit today. Tong’s use of the same narrative mechanic to first derive laughter then draw tears provokes questions the reconciliation of loss.
Love and loss in a nation gained. How does one reconcile the story of a nation’s 50 years? Perhaps with one heartfelt letter at a time.
Catch 7 Letters before it ends its run at Golden Village on the 26 of August!