Shirkers (2018)

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Sandi Tan directs herself, Jasmine Ng and Sophie Siddique in this documentary about three rebel Singapore teenagers who worked on a colourful road movie only for their mentor / the film’s director to disappear with the footage after the wrap for decades. 

Lemonade out of lemons. A really colourful and enkindling documentary slightly undone by a narrator who is quite simply (and self acknowledgedly) full of herself. The footage of the film she worked on as a teenage is naively seductive, the hook of its stunted production fascinating. Yet you get the feeling the whole story is actively being avoided. The kids lost control of a project they worked on in secondary roles on. Sexism or the natural order of indie filmmaking? Attempts to suggest their loveably amateurish Jim Jarmush pastiche was a lost classic or an echo of #metoo #timesup abuse just ring hollow. They met an enigmatic, dishonest weirdo who directed their / his film and he kept the footage when the money or workforce disappeared. Shirkers is a far better doc when about young female empowerment in 1990s Singapore and the inspiring punk energy to make a cool outsider film. The mysteries of the fallout, while marketable, are not particularly high stakes if viewed rationally. Delightfully watchable if suspect in its unguarded manipulations.

7

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