Tan Pin Pin is a Singapore-based film director. Her films are explorations of Singapore, her histories, contexts and limits. She is best known for the documentary film Singapore GaGa. It was the first Singapore documentary to have a theatrical run. Wikipedia
The Real Singapore
I WENT TO M’SIA TO WATCH A FILM MADE IN SG ABOUT SINGAPORE’S POLITICAL EXILES
Tan Pin Pin’s film ‘To Singapore With Love’ summed up in less than 50 words:
a few communists, some ex-PAP men & women, a student activist-turned-Oxford-educated lawyer, a Gaza activist and a folk singer walk into a cinema and tell their story to a camera.
What they all have in common: they all want to go home.
[Content warning: extreme patriotism, 70s protest songs that will make you cry]
[Spoiler alert: only one of them will make it home. In an urn.]
So I was part of the three busloads of people (and many others who found their own way) who rode form Singapore to Johor Bahru to watch To Singapore With Love…
So what was the film like? It was a series of interviews with people who lived in the UK and Thailand. They were there because they had to escape Singapore for to escape detention/other political persecution in the 60s or 70s. Some of them disagreed with government policies, some were alleged a communists some were alleged activists who shouted a little too loudly, some were at the wrong place at the wrong time.
What they had in common: they wanted to go back but could not without being arrested or in a couple of cases, being made to publicly renounce their beliefs on national TV…
You don’t have to feel sorry for the exiles. By the time they get interviewed they have made lives for themselves abroad. Comfortable lives. Started businesses, families, an NGO, written books. Three to four decades is too long to sit around wishing to go home. But not too long to keep holding out a little bit of hope that maybe one day they will be able to return the country they were born and grew up in, and in some cases, they country they fought for independence for. Some of them are still incredibly patriotic. Like the exile who wishes his son was a Singapore citizen so he could fight in the Singapore Armed Forces and protect the country, because he believes in Singapore’s need to defend itself, etc.
*The writer blogs at http://stephdogfoot.wordpress.com/
Read the whole article here:
Banned in Singapore? You could always watch it in JB!
Hundreds of S’poreans protesting censorship gathered in M’sia to watch banned movie, To Singapore with Love. More – http://bit.ly/ZudMyZ
Friday September 19, 2014 MYT 7:19:05 PM
Busloads of Singaporeans travel to Johor Baru to watch banned film
In 2013, Tan released To Singapore, With Love, which revolves around political exiles, some of whom have not been home for as long as 50 years. The documentary won Tan the best director award in the Muhr AsiaAfrica Documentary section at 10th Dubai International Film Festivalm (DIFF). It was made with the support of the Asian Cinema Fund and the Busan International Film Festival, where it had its world premiere in competition. The film was banned in Singapore, with the Media Development Authority claiming that it undermined national security as “the individuals in the film have given distorted and untruthful accounts of how they came to leave Singapore and remain outside Singapore,” and that “a number of these self-professed ‘exiles’ were members of, or had provided support to, the proscribed Communist Party of Malaya (CPM).”
To Singapore With Love – Tan Pin Pin
#SEAArtsFest | Tan Pin Pin’s “To Singapore, With Love”: a homage to individual fighters whose lives have been shaped by migration and exile. We’ll be screening this as part of #SEAArtsFilm this year, so look out for it!
“To Singapore, with Love is a homage to individual fighters whose lives have been shaped by emigration. They tell their stories more as utopians than as victims, opening up amazing perspectives on an ultra-modern city in a democratic coma as well as on life in exile, whose path is never straightforward for those who do not lose sight of their goals, even when far away from home”. The film was first screened at the Berlinale 2014, a great cultural event and one of the most important dates for the international film industry.
Statement from Tan Pin Pin regarding the banning of her film “To Singapore, With Love” in Singapore. Find out about #SEAArtsFest‘s screenings of this film: http://seaartsfest.org/to-singapore-with-love/
STATEMENT BY TAN PIN PIN
Director and Producer of “To Singapore, with Love”
To Singapore with Love (2013) was slated to screen with my other films Invisible City (2007) and Singapore GaGa (2005) at the end of September 2014, in a triple-bill presented by National University of Singapore (NUS) Museum, an institution that I have had a long working relationship with in relation to my previous films.
Now the screenings will not take place.
I am very disappointed by the MDA decision to ban it — for myself, and also what it means for Singapore. Like many of my other films, To Singapore, with Love took shape organically. I was making a video about Singapore’s coastline from afar. In the process of researching the idea of being outside, I stumbled upon Escape from the Lion’s Paw (2012), a book of first-person accounts by Singapore political exiles, people who remain outside the country, but not by choice. I decided to interview one of them in Malaysia. I was so moved by her account that I decided to change focus and To Singapore, with Love was born. Like my other films mentioned above, this film is a portrait of Singapore; unlike the others, this film is shot entirely outside the country, in the belief that we can learn something about ourselves by adopting, both literally and figuratively, an external view.
For this film, I traveled to England, Malaysia and Thailand to interview the exiles to find out how they have lived their lives away from Singapore. Some have not been back for more than 50 years. They talk about why they left, but they mostly talk about their lives today and their relationship with Singapore. They show us the new lives they have created for themselves. One shows us around his noodle-making factory, we visit the law firm of another and play with the children of yet another exile. We also attend the funeral of one of them. Finally, we observe a family reunion that takes place in Johor Baru, the twinkling lights of Singapore a short distance away. The focus is on their everyday lives. These exiles all have different ideological positions and are of different ages; some are communists, others are activists from the Christian Left, yet others are socialist politicians or former student activists. But their feelings for Singapore is intense and heartfelt, albeit sometimes ambivalent, even after so long away. Those feelings (more than the circumstances of their exile, or even the historical “truth” that led to such exile) are what my film predominantly focuses on, because I feel that many viewers might relate to those feelings.
I made this film because I myself wanted to better understand Singapore. I wanted to understand how we became who we are by addressing what was banished and unspoken for. Perhaps what remains could be the essence of us today. I was also hoping that the film would open up a national conversation to allow us to understand ourselves as a nation better too.
I am therefore very disappointed that my film is banned. By doing this, MDA is taking away an opportunity for us Singaporeans see it and to have a conversation about it and our past that this film could have started or contributed to. It is vital for us to have that conversation on our own terms, especially on the eve of our 50th birthday. We need to be trusted to be able to find the answers about ourselves, for ourselves.
It is my deepest regret that we cannot have such a conversation here today. That conversation did start when some Singaporeans saw it at film festivals overseas. Some of the reactions include; “Tender and searching” “Extremely moving and thought-provoking” and “A Must see”. Now, the irony that a film about Singapore exiles is now exiled from Singapore as well – this is not something I ever wanted or hoped for.
I hope to be able to show it in Singapore one day, and may re-submit for a rating in the future.
Tan Pin Pin
10 September 2014
Film’s official site
Film’s Facebook page
Filmmakers and the arts community have released a statement on MDA’S ban of To Singapore, With Love: https://www.facebook.com/notes/1494957707417453/ …
FILMMAKERS’ & ARTS COMMUNITY’S STATEMENT RE: MDA’S BAN ON TAN PIN PIN’S ‘TO SINGAPORE WITH LOVE’
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 10, 2014
STATEMENT ON MDA’S DECISION TO BAN TAN PIN PIN’S ‘TO SINGAPORE WITH LOVE’
We, the undersigned would like to express our deep disappointment at the Media Development Authority’s decision to ban Tan Pin Pin’s award winning documentary, ‘To Singapore With Love’.
Ms Tan’s film examines the lives of Singaporeans living in exile. In doing so, she explores an aspect of our nation’s history that is rarely discussed in the public sphere.
The MDA claims that the subjects in Ms Tan’s film gave “distorted and untruthful accounts of how they came to leave Singapore and remain outside Singapore”. We would like to suggest that rather than banning the documentary, authorities release their version of the events in question, so that viewers can make up their own minds. Indeed, we note that the MDA has already published a detailed press release stating their official account.
‘To Singapore With Love’ screened at the prestigious Berlin International Film Festival and has won multiple awards all over the world. It has received high praise from filmmakers, critics and festival programmers. Many commentators have described it as essential viewing for all Singaporeans. Banning the film will only reinforce the view that our government is trying to limit discussion around our very own history.
Finally, we would like to emphasize that censorship does nothing to promote a vibrant, informed society. We thus urge the MDA to reconsider its decision.
For List of Signatories: