Reel Revolution (www.revolution.youth.sg) was part of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs’ (SIIA) ASEAN Focus Series and also part of the country’s celebration of ASEAN’s 40th Anniversary. The theme for the entire program was "Reflections on the ASEAN Community", which encompassed the Introductory Seminar and workshops on 26th May, two Learning Talks on 2nd and 9th June, and the 7th Young Guns International Student Film Festival from 21st to 23rd June. The eight week program integrated both the arts and social issues and has engaged some 1000 young people.
Reel Revolution Powwow and Immersion, which took place on 14 July 2007, was organized by the SIIA and the Substation Moving Images. At Powwow, each team chaired a 20-minute discussion to introduce their chosen topic and to present their film to the panelists. These nine films addressed some of ASEAN’s most significant issues. Associate Professor Simon Tay(Chairman of SIIA), Associate Professor Ang Peng Hwa (Chairman of Wee Kim Wee School of Film, NTU), Ms Gek Li San (documentary filmmaker) and Mr Victric Thng (award winning filmmaker and mentor) were the four panelists who took part in critiquing the films at the event. In addition, 120 audience members participated in the event. The other judges who were not present at the event included Malaysian filmmakers Mr Amir Muhammad and Ms Sherman Ong.
Phisherman’s Friends’ film ‘Abstinence’ walked away with the top prize of $1000 and an additional $2500 for the opportunity to make a film commissioned by the Hong Kongand Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) on the issue of Climate Change. The team consisted of Seelan Palay, Zian Ismail and Gabrielle Ann-Seet and was mentored by Victric Thng. ‘Abstinence’ addressed the paradox of ASEAN’s ‘Asian Values,’ human rights and human wrongs. The film featured scenes of individuals performing surreal acts to depict these diverse values and aimed to communicate its ideas on a more visual level.
Alvinology’s film ‘ASEAN’s Silence’ took home the 2nd prize of $500. The team consisted of Alvin Lim and Rachel Chan and was mentored by Ellery Ngiam. Their film used a post-modern treatment to highlight the issue of ASEAN’s silence towards the house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi and touched on the issue of ASEAN’s silence on other human rights issues.
Two Fifth of SF’s film ‘Erasers’ walked away with the 3rd prize of $300. The team consisted of Tan Kai Li and Leon Kiong and was mentored by Wilson Yip. Depicted in a childlike manner, their film emphasized that ASEAN countries need to cooperate, especially in times of terrorism and the increasing ease of the spreading of information. Lastly, HSBC’s Special Mention Prize of $300 went to CIA Films for ‘Pirate (d), A Musical.’ The team consisted of Shaun Koh and Ian Tan and was mentored by Kenny Tan. Their film dramatically illustrates that copyright law is an obsolete concept that is detrimental to the creation of original music.
Commenting on the films, Associate Professor Tay said, “Many of the submissions showed creativity and purpose, using various film techniques to explore the region’s critical issues, ranging from piracy to pornography and prostitution. He added that “The Institute is pleased to have played a part to tap and energize the thinking of the young people who took part in the competition, positioning them to explore and understand the choices and dilemmas in international issues. Through Reel Revolution, we believe and hope we have engaged more youth to think of issues which are imperative for the future of both Singaporeand ASEAN.”
The Immersion Party took place after the prize presentation event. The teams, film mentors, media and audience members mingled and unwound to music and food.
Reel Revolution: ‘Reflections on the ASEAN Community’ was co-organised by the SIIA and Substation Moving Images. It was sponsored by HSBC and supported by: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, National Youth Council, Media Development Authority, MediAction!, the National Library Board, the Singapore Totalisator Board, the Singapore Film Commission, the ASEAN Committee, SHINE, Youth Expedition Project, Objectifs Centre for Photography and Filmmaking and Gatecrash. The Singapore Management Universityis the venue partner while Youth.SG is the official online media.