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Singapore: Local Documentarians

“To allow for your subject’s slow unfolding, as a director, to take the back seat to what the matter is on its own accord, this is no small achievement, a laudable and rare exercise in humility.”
- Matthias Ortmann, Reviewer, Sinema.sg, Singapore on Lynn Lee and James Leong

“…Shot and directed to throw light in the darkest places.”
- Tony Rayns, Film Critic-Curator, England Lynn Lee and James Leong

Amongst the burgeoning group of local documentarians that have debuted to critical
success like Chan Kah Mei, Chew Tze Chuan, Eng Yee Peng, Joycelyn Khoo, Li Xiuqi, Martyn See, and Mirabelle Ang, are filmmaking husband and wife duo James Leong and Lynn Lee. As one of the key figures on the rising Singapore documentary circuit, their three feature-length documentaries have received nominations at celebrated film festivals including Paris, Berlin, and Kuala Lumpur. Based in Asia, they have an interest in 'finding unusual stories and telling them well' and have established themselves as documentarians dedicated to portaying the truth in a sensitive manner. Lynn was invited by the United Nations-backed Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation to document the 'Truth Hearings' and to help set up East Timor's first national television station.

Chan Kah Mei (director of I Love Malaya) - Formerly a broadcast journalist at Mediacorp Radio, Kah Mei covered local and regional politics of Southeast Asia. She was awarded the Dato Tan Cheng Lock scholarship by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) in 2003. Later, she was joined ISEAS as a research associate and contributed towards the start-up of the Film Fund at institute. Kah Mei recently joined the civil service, focusing on trade and economic issues.

 

Chew Tze Chuan (director of "F.") is an editor and a cinematographer. Chew's works as a cinematographer started with Abdul Nizam's "Datura" in 1998. A pioneer in digital filmmaking, he was an early adopter of kinescopage, a video to 35 mm film transfer method, which resulted in Eric Khoo's production "Stories About Love". In 2004 he was the editor and special effects artist on Toh Hai Leong's mockumentary "Zombie Dogs". “F” is Chew's debut documentary film in collaboration with Toh. It became his rediscovery on the importance of sincerity & simplicity in life and filmmaking.

Eng Yee Peng (director of Diminishing Memories) is a freelance TV Producer (Writer/Director) who graduated from Griffith University (Brisbane, Australia) with a Bachelor of Digital Media Production with First Class Honours. Her honors dissertation film- Diminishing Memories was broadcasted on South Korea’s national educational channel and Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s regional satellite channel in 2006. Diminishing Memories won the Best Tertiary Documentary at the Queensland New Filmmakers Award competition and nominated Best Documentary at Asian First Film Festival, awarded Special Jury Commendation Award in 2005. The film was also invited to international film festivals in the Asian, Latin American and European regions. Prior to her studies, she worked as an Assistant Producer and a Studio Director in the TV newsroom at Media Corporation of Singapore (MediaCorp News) for almost 5 years. Yee Peng is now working on the sequel to Diminishing Memories, her second documentary scheduled to be screened (together with Diminishing Memories) at Cathay, The Picture House coming Dec 2007.


James Leong and Lynn Lee (directors of "Passabe" and "Aki Ra's Boys") - Amongst the burgeoning group of local documentarians that have debuted to critical success, husband and wife duo James Leong and Lynn Lee are two of the key figures on the rising Singapore documentary circuit. Their feature-length documentaries have received nominations at celebrated film festivals including Paris, Berlin and Kuala Lumpur. Based in Asia, they have an interest in “finding unusual stories and telling them well” and have established themselves as documentarians dedicated to portraying the truth in a sensitive manner. Lynn was invited by the United Nations-backed Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation to document the “Truth Hearings” and to help set up East Timor’s first national television station.

Joycelyn Khoo (director of Singapore Standard Time) is formerly an electronic and broadcast media student from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information (WKWSCI), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. She has played varied roles in a number of school video projects, and was a producer of MICA’s 2005 National Day Video during her internship at Mega Media. Currently, she is pursuing other interests, but still harbours the hope that one day, she will find it in her to make another film.


Li Xiuqi (director of "Seletar Air Base") made Seletar Air Base in response to the government’s announcement that the area was slated to be turned into an aerospace industrial park. It is her first foray into filmmaking. She is currently working on a video for her church on missions work. She hopes to do videos on architecture or planning, and also a film starring a dog.



Lo Hwei Shan (producer of Singapore Standard Time) graduated from the WKWSCI, NTU with a degree in communication studies and a minor in English literature. Her passion for the written word encompasses a voracious reading habit and the occasional freelance article for local film website, Sinema.SG. She has an avid interest in photography, along with experience in theatre set management. She is currently an editor with a publishing company in Singapore, but is always on the lookout for inspiration for a new script.

Martyn See (director of Speakers Cornered) is a filmmaker whose previous two works, Singapore Rebel and Zahari's 17 Years, have been banned by the Singapore authorities for its political content. The former was also the subject of a 15 month police investigation for alleged violation of the Films Act.

Mirabelle Ang (director of "Match Made") graduated from California Institute of the Arts in May 2006 with an MFA in Film & Video. She is born in Singapore, with an inquisitive mind that has led her to explore various walks of life, a challenge she relishes. Currently based in Los Angeles, she is making plans for her next documentary.

Wang Eng Eng (director of "I Love Malaya") currently works with the local broadcaster in current affairs. She has formerly worked with companies such as ESPN, Travel and Living and was a finalist at the project pilot pro 2005 organised by Arts central. Eng Eng has also worked briefly in Taiwan as a producer/reporter for a local TV station.

Selected Filmography:
Aki Ra’s Boys (2007) by James Leong and Lynn Lee
Passabe (2006) by James Leong and Lynn Lee
I Love Malaya (2006) by Chan Kah Mei, Wang Eng Eng, Ho Choon Hiong & Eunice Lau
Match Made (2006) by Mirabelle Ang
Seletar Airbase: Singapore's Secret Garden (2006) by Li Xiuqi
Singapore Standard Time (2006) by Joycelyn Khoo & Serene Ng
   
Award
Aki Ra’s Boys, Official Selection, Cinema du Reel, Singapore International Film Festival & Thessaloniki International Film Festival, 2007
Passabe, Winner, Humanitarian Award for Documentaries, Hong Kong International Film Festival, 2006