The private screening of China's Art Missionary and The 24-Hour Art Practice initiated and organised by Cheo Chai-Hiang and Cecily Cheo took place last night at a beautiful shophouse in Joo Chiat. It was a gathering of friends and friends of friends over the 2 films and conversations. The screening started at 7:30pm and the post-screening Q&A session went on for 2.5 hours!
The friends who came on May 22 were from diverse backgrounds : artists, writers, policy makers, curators, academia, researchers, playwrights, collectors, journalists, filmmakers, gallerists, educators and students. Questions circulated around the contrast of Uli Sigg and Dr. Oei, people of passion with contrasting personalities but similar "occupations". People were curious about their responses to their own films. There were also questions regarding the ethics of making and the rationale behind choices made on narrative and tonal styles. The evening's discourse was enlivened with the presence of T K Sabapathy and Lindy Poh. T K was asked about his views on patronage and the efficacy and relevance of art history and Western models in resolving the current deadlock in Indonesia. Lindy Poh spoke about independent filmmakers' exposure and general appetite for risks and recounted her own experience in working on The 24-Hour Art Practice as a lawyer. Cecily steered different conversation threads most sensitively. Kathy Lai from National Arts Council also took a side question on the prospect of Singapore in the arts following the closure of a few galleries at the Gillman Barracks.
It was a very special gathering of people and of the most curious minds. This did not happen by accident. Thanks to Chai and Cecily, their deliberate attempt to keep the evening casual and the mood light made this evening conducive for deep conversations. Clearly those who came enjoyed learning from one another, the evening only ended at 1am! For a filmmaker, nothing can be more satisfying than to have his/her work become a conversation starter. It was very interesting to hear different readings of the films, of what people perceived and read, and what worked and what didn't and why.
Thanks also to Mr. Ng for the use of the beautiful Joo Chiat shophouse and the generous spread of dim sum and drinks. Thanks also to Mark Hee and James Kwong for helping to manage the book table. It was a truly memorable time.
Photo Credit : Nadene Law