Prolific Singaporean producer Jeremy Chua and filmmakers John Klang and Lavender Chang reunite after “A Love Unknown” (2020), which Klang directed and was shot by Chang. This time, they teamed up with Chang and Clang’s “Absent Smile”, which is having its world premiere at the Singapore International Film Festival.
Klang is based in New York and visits his parents in Singapore intermittently. Absent Smile is a document of Klang’s parents and their mixed feelings of longing and support for their son, using a family portrait format augmented by digital means.
“Aging and separation are common things that many in our time go through. It is a topic close to our hearts and we may also find ourselves avoiding bringing it up. While modern technology seems to help pet our longing for our loved ones, it also fuels the causes of long absences. However, this absence from our loved ones represents A period of time lost forever.In this film, we try to depict a single day of an elderly couple with constant observation, hoping to capture the basic nuances and dynamics of their daily lives in the absence of their son,” Klang and Zhang said. diverse.
The movie is also inspired by Clang’s art project ‘Being Together’.
“to be together” To showcase the diaspora situation common to many families and how we have adapted and benefited from the technological advances that reflect our times.
When Klang created this artwork at the time, he had already decided to do something with stills 10 years later. Although he had no specific idea of what he wanted to do, he knew he would like to see how the family had changed. And aged a decade after the initial photo shoot.So, the movie is not about the art project ‘Being Together’ – it takes on a life of its own.We want to see the moment after the personal photoshoot ends, as one goes on with their daily life and in this case, A decade later,” added Klang and Zhang.
The Singapore premiere is important for filmmakers. This film includes many local families and is a great time capsule to take them back to that photo shoot. Many things may have changed since then, but the narrow family value will remain. “It will be a very rewarding experience for all of us,” Klang and Zhang said.
The film was self-financed through the sale of Klang’s artwork by longtime collaborator and producer, Ellen Teo.
“I find their approach to documentaries innovative and unexpected,” Chua said. “Their filmmaking practices address the complex observations of society through nuanced portraits of unassuming characters shot and edited with intimate, hand-crafted textures, then incorporating descriptive or hybrid elements to create tension and fresh perspective in the montage.” In this case, the narrative that does not directly reveal itself, is told between two time frames around the fallout of a family portrait where themes are accessed from self-explanation and introspection.I find it a poignant look at aging, the loss of a loved one and how time passes in the contemporary age – and it is Topics that I think my generation underestimates.”
Missing Smile is another addition to the burgeoning list of internationally recognized Singaporean films. “I think it reflects a time when filmmakers can find their own voice and also be more confident in their identity as Singaporeans. We have less history than our neighboring countries and so it is easy to be seen as the ‘shallow’ brother in Southeast Asia. Klang and Chang said It takes time and courage to learn that it is okay to be who we are and that we have something to share with the world.
Chua added, “Perhaps there is a new generation of directors who dare to be more ambitious by telling feature-length stories and have better access to information and opportunities related to co-productions. The mentality has evolved to be more aware of the world. On the contrary, this is the reason why I find self-financed and artist-driven films like Absent Smile also very precious. It’s almost a rebellion against the typical structure and textbook of how to make a film. And it’s exactly the diversity that makes Singapore’s independent cinema so rich and exciting.”
Chua is currently in post-production on four feature films while working in development with a new group of directors – Rafael Manuel, Russell Morton and Liao Jicai. Klang and Chang started another documentary about the family, which would take several years to complete because it relied on the passage of time to shape the film’s story.
Premiere of “Absent Smile” on December 1st.