Student who produced short film on 1991 SQ117 hijack inspired by soldiers

Before working on her film about the 1991 SQ117 hijack, Miss Cheryl Wong knew nothing about the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) operation that rescued 125 hostages from a Singapore Airlines (SIA) plane.

But now, she is considering joining the SAF.

"I thought SAF was just national service. But after discovering the different units in the SAF, I want to sign on because I don't want to take our nation's peace and security for granted," said Miss Wong, 20, a student at Temasek Polytechnic's (TP) Digital Film & Television course.

She was a producer on docu-drama SQ117: Men Behind the Masks (inset), which re-enacts scenes of the dramatic SQ117 rescue operation.

It was one of three films commissioned by the Singapore Discovery Centre (SDC) for its Singapore Stories film series in celebration of SG50.

SDC had collaborated with TP to commission three films with stories that are close to the hearts of Singaporeans.

The completed films will be screened for free at SDC from July 1 onwards, for a period of a year.

They premiered yesterday at SDC, with a gala that was attended by guest of honour ESM Goh Chok Tong.

For her film, Miss Wong had the chance to work with MediaCorp artist Tay Ping Hui, who acted as Captain Tay, the Commando Officer who led the Special Operations Force team.


Even though Miss Wong was not star- struck, some of her friends volunteered their time on the shoot so that they could meet the veteran actor.

She said: "They told me, Oh my God, you got Tay Ping Hui!"

Tay said that he made his portrayal as close to the stern real-life captain as possible: "I actually had to lead a team of real commandos as the weapons were real and they were there for safety reasons. I'm not sure if they were laughing behind my back!"

The actor was impressed with the ambitious students who made the film.

He said: "They had a low budget and were less experienced, but the energy on the shoot was very refreshing. It made me feel young again."

The other two films are Reunion, about the touching story of a reunion dinner, and The Dream Team, a documentary on how Singapore assembled the football team which that the Malaysia Cup in 1994.

Mr Muhammad Nabil B Nazri, 21, director of The Dream Team, said that he was inspired to make the film as his uncle, Malek Awab, was a midfielder in the team.

"I wanted to showcase the other players that were equally important, and not just Fandi Ahmad. It also encourages young people to follow their dreams," he said.

Producer Muhhamad Shabil Samsul Ariffin, 21, said the film took nine months to make.

"It's just like our baby," he said.

This article was first published on May 1, 2015.
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