SINGAPORE, AUSTRALIA / 2005 / English, Mandarin, Teochew / Color, B&W / Video / 27 min
Director, Script, Photography, Editing, Sound, Music, Narrator, Producer, Source: Eng Yee Peng
In the western part of Singapore lies Lim Chu Kang. The village that used to be there no longer exists; now, there is only forest. Relying on her older brother and her own childhood memories, the director sets foot on the ground where she was born. She visits villagers who were made to move out under the state policy of industrialization in the 1960s, traces the history of the former village, adores and encapsulates them with her camera. Villages, traditions, lives and people vanish from the map before our very eyes. Through the skillful use of illustrations and cheerful narration, the sorrow and the longing of the people now living in apartments are made to reverberate, casting doubt on the national history of Singapore.
[Director’s Statement] The motivation behind making this film comes from my sadness; the regrets of losing my childhood and the opportunity to live in a house in a village in Singapore. I actually cried on my way home in Australia after I found out that I could take the University’s film equipment back to Singapore to document my birth village, Lim Chu Kang. Hence, my sadness turned into a passion and determination to tell a story. It is a story that not only belongs to me but also to my fellow villagers, we who came from the same community. It is a story that ultimately belongs to every Singaporean, especially the older generations.
I decided this film would be a personal one since I am telling a story that is so close to my heart. I had also chosen the reflective and reflexive documentary modes which I regard as the most relevant and appropriate approaches to express my thoughts and to re-capture both my own childhood memories and Singapore’s historical past. I wanted to use black and white as the theme colors of my documentary not only to symbolize the flashing back of memories but because in Chinese culture, they represent death and funeral. On the other hand, I attempted to be “light-hearted” in some parts of my film by using narration, expressed through the tone of my voice. This is because I felt that this documentary should not be a completely sad film. I needed some “happy” elements to dilute some of the sadness and to contrast it, making the sadness even greater—for the greatest sadness is to be able to laugh at it.
Eng Yee Peng
Eng Yee Peng recently graduated from Griffith University (Griffith Film School, Australia) with a Bachelor of Digital Media Production with First Class Honors. She was awarded various academic awards such as the Screen Production Medal for her Bachelor Degree and the University Medal for her Honors Degree. Prior to her studies, she worked as an assistant producer, then a studio director in the TV newsroom at Media Corporation of Singapore (MediaCorp News) for almost five years. Diminishing Memories won the Queensland New Filmmakers Award for the Best Tertiary Documentary and was screened at the 18th Singapore International Film Festival this April.