Tuesday, October 14, 2014

That film... what is the core issue?

This is an important letter (below). It appeared in today's ST Forum (Oct 14) and states the chenghoo's official position on the Tan Pin Pin movie...

Frankly, I still don't get it... why would such a political movie -- even if one-sided in presenting its case of the good guys versus the bad guys -- become a block buster when there are so many crowd-pulling action movies out there every week, most of which are about good guys versus bad guys? Good movies -- that is, films of merit however defined -- do not necessarily attract a large Singaporean audience. Angie and I went to see the superb movie This Is Where I Leave You and we counted only six people in the audience, including ourselves. So why would a huge crowd throng to see To Singapore, With Love?

If Ms Tan's movie were to be screened as an independent film (as would have been most likely, circumstances permitting), the ticket price would go up, making its likelihood of being a block buster even slimmer.

Ah, but there are principles involved (other former political detainees had gone through the proper procedures to reintegrate; precedents must not be set for other destabilising movies that incite or justify violence in the name of fill-in-the-blank), and there are security concerns when the medium of propagation is a film, we are told.

In reality, there is not much of a debate going on in the heartland or in Districts 9, 10 and 11 over Ms Tan's movie. So, I don't see how the movie will get a public screening.

But the official letter is important because it is intriguing by virtue of the options it seems to suggest!

If, cost recovery and/or the profit motive aside, Ms Tan were to allow private screenings for select audiences, there appears to be no official objection. The question arises as to who may watch the movie but at least -- as they say -- things are taken to the next level.

And what if Ms Tan were to publish a book version of the movie -- and price it affordably? As -- and I am making a presumption here --  the letter above has alluded, there should not be any hindrance to the book version ending up in public libraries' shelves. What if Ms Tan were to waive her copyright to such a book version so that anyone can freely lift from it? (She must be prepared to see low sales volumes.)

That will take matters to the core issue: what was Ms Tan's purpose in producing the movie? The letter has done that... kicked the ball into her corner. In doing so, it seems to suggest the possibilities that are open to her, but ones fraught with further questions.

Incidentally, the letter also says the door is open to the former detainees coming home. Simple... do it Singapore-style: Just Follow, Lor!

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