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Shirkers

Impact | Documentaries | High School Outreach

In 1992, present-day novelist Sandi Tan was a Singaporean teenager in love with the cinema. Under the mentorship of film teacher Georges Cardona, Tan and her friends Jasmine Ng and Sophia Siddique decided to make a feature film; Tan wrote and starred in it, she and her friends organized the shoot, and Cardona directed. When the film was finished, Cardona, inexplicably, disappeared with the footage. Baffled and heartbroken, the young women eventually got on with their lives. And then, 25 years later, the footage resurfaced…

Tan has done something remarkable here by weaving together a brilliant, joyous salute to friendship—she, Ng and Siddique remain close—with glorious footage from the original shoot, creating a blend of fiction and documentary that conflates the now and the then to marvellous effect. That the footage we see from the original film has such spark and ingenuity—a road movie with crime genre tropes, it had the potential to be one of Singapore’s first independent features and could have changed the lives of its participants—doubles the sense of loss. But Tan and co. came to terms with this twist of fate and went on to live vibrant, fulfilling lives. And now we have this film to celebrate.

"[The original film] is gloriously, gleefully idiosyncratic, a blend of punk energy and local documentation… It’s raw and spare, colourful and filled with ingenious sight gags and bright touches… [Tan has made] an exemplary work of counter-lives and alternative histories, intimate self-portraiture and cultural reconstruction, hard-won empathy and painful reconciliation."—Richard Brody, New Yorker

Best Director, Documentary, Sundance 18


Director Sandi Tan
Country of Origin: USA
Year: 2018
Running Time: 96 mins
Format: DCP encrypted
Classification: PG - Coarse language; violence; nudity
Featuring: Sandi Tan, Jasmine Ng, Sophie Siddique
Producer: Sandi Tan, Jessica Levin, Maya Rudolph
Cinematographer: Iris Ng
Editor: Lucas Celler, Sandi Tan, Kimberley Hassett
Music: Ishai Adar
Distributor: Netflix

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