In this year's edition, we highlight the remarkable poetry and stories of four highly-distinguished writers—JM Sali, Gregory Nalpon, Tan Swie Hian, and former deputy prime minister S. Rajaratnam. They have been adapted with nuance and sensitivity by veterans K. Rajagopal and Lee Thean-jeen into live-action short films, and with boundless imagination by Henry and Harry Zhuang, and Jerrold Chong into animation shorts, respectively.
Utter 2017: SingLit Unearthed is presented by the National Arts Council and supported by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth. It is produced by The Filmic Eye, with support from the Singapore Film Society.
Adapted from the short story by Gregory Nalpon
Written and directed by Lee Thean-jeen
Cast: Jae Liew, Brian Ng, Karen Tan, Catherine Sng, Zemily Leaw.
Synopsis: When Margaret, a kindergarten teacher, admonishes her six-year-old student, Ee Leng, for bringing a dog to school one morning, she is shocked to find a death threat on her desk at recess time. This sets off a chain of incidents that spirals into tragedy in a surreal meditation on the pressures of living in a contemporary urban society and the impact they have on both the young and the elderly.
WHAT HAS TO BE
Adapted from the short story by S. Rajaratnam
Directed by Jerrold Chong
Written by Jerrold Chong and Jia Lee
Voice Talents: Sivakumar Palakrishnan, Rebekah Sangeetha Dorai
Synopsis: A husband and wife grapple with the tragic death of their firstborn as they await the arrival of their second. Their recollections reveal a dark, repressed history within the shared space they call home. Adapted from S. Rajaratnam's short story of the same name, “What Has to Be” explores the dysfunctional relationship between two grieving parents as they confront the inevitable truth of their unborn child.
SONG OF THE WAVES
Adapted from the book by J.M. Sali
Written and directed by K. Rajagopal
Cast: Viknesh Jaivant N, Zee Wong, Dhivyah Raveen
Synopsis: This is a love story about an Indian man who meets and falls in love with a Chinese woman in Singapore by chance, but she discovers that he is actually married back home in India. Told from the perspective of the writer—who is played by more than one actor, and who also plays the character—the film blurs the lines between roles, reality, time and space. The words and text of the writer also interplay with the sound of silence and the actions of the actors and characters.
Adapted from Tan Swie Hian’s poetry
Directed by Henry & Harry Zhuang
Synopsis: A school of fishes is washed up on a barren island. While the other fishes choose to swim back to the sea, one redfish decides to venture deeper into the barren island.