Film on exiles screened at film festival in London

Film on exiles screened at film festival in London

Filmmaker Tan Pin Pin's documentary To Singapore, With Love played at four sold-out screenings over two days in London, with many among the audience curious to watch the film after it was barred from public screening and distribution in Singapore by the Government.

The film was originally slated for two screenings at the SEA ArtsFest, but the organisers added another two after tickets were sold out within a few days.

In all, nearly 600 people, many of them Singaporean students studying in the United Kingdom and some from other parts of Europe, watched the 70-minute film at screenings on Monday and Tuesday.

Ms Tan told The Straits Times on Tuesday that she was happy with the response.

"The film is under appeal. I look forward to the matter being resolved," she said.

The documentary contains interviews with nine Singaporeans who live in Britain and Thailand - some of whom have been there for more than 50 years - on why they fled the country, their political beliefs and the feelings they have towards Singapore.

Singapore's Media Development Authority (MDA), however, said the exiles gave "untruthful and distorted" accounts of how they had to flee and remain outside Singapore.

Hence, the film "undermines national security because legitimate actions of the security agencies to protect the national security and stability of Singapore are presented in a distorted way as acts that victimised innocent individuals".

The MDA gave it a "Not Allowed for All Ratings" classification which rules it out for public screening or distribution in Singapore.

More than 1,000 people signed a petition to the MDA protesting against the classification and Ms Tan has appealed to the Films Appeal Committee, an independent panel, to let it be screened in Singapore.

Ms Annie Jael Kwan, curator and producer of the SEA ArtsFest, decided to feature it at the festival after watching the film in May.

The event is the first South-east Asian arts festival in the UK and showcases works of South-east Asian artists and those inspired by the region.

Said Ms Kwan: "I felt To Singapore, With Love is a sensitively crafted film that gathered and shared stories, Singapore stories, that I never heard growing up.

"Whether one agrees or disagrees with political stances or ideology espoused in the film, it felt important to know about these other perspectives and experiences."

During a question-and-answer session with Ms Tan on Tuesday, several Singaporeans expressed similar sentiments.

Among those who attended on Tuesday night were three London-based exiles - Mr Tan Wah Piow, Mr Ho Juan Thai and Dr Ang Swee Chai - who are featured in the documentary.

This article was first published on Oct 30, 2014.
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