Today Film Article

Published by TODAY, Singapore’s second most-read newspaper, on 28th July 2016. Here is the online version.


Diptych (noun) A painting, especially an altarpiece, on two hinged wooden panels which may be closed like a book.

Image Credit: Still from Himala (Miracle)

Ingenious. Curators, Philip Cheah and Teo Swee Leng, together with the Gallery’s lovely film programmer, Pauline Soh, have lifted film beyond film.

Let me explain.

The Gallery has a film series called Painting with Light: Southeast Asian Film Series.

Why do I say “beyond film” and called this post “Diptych of Film”?

“Painting with Light” is held over the first weekend of every month – Saturday and Sunday. Two films – diptych – paired very deliberately over the weekend. I guess much like how a gourmand pairs food, wine, table setting, etc. to enhance the entire dining experience.

Philip is obviously passionate about film – specifically Asian film. I admire a person with passion, focus and actually doing something. Read about him here.

The first two films were screened on 5th and 6th of March. I watched both of them.

Quick details on both (click the title for synopsis and details):


Director: M Amin

TEMPORARY VISA, 2016, 124 minutes

Director: Ghazi Alqudcy

Very cleverly paired.

One movie is from the past (Saturday), the other from the present (Sunday). Both films are from the same national cinema and explore the same subject matter, but at different periods and different settings. The first two were Singaporean directors, the next instalment, Filipino, followed by Vietnamese and then Burmese.

This is from the Gallery’s website:

The inaugural edition of Painting with Light pairs a classic and a contemporary film from a national cinema in Southeast Asia each month. An older classic that addresses an important issue of its time will be screened on the Saturday, followed by a more recent film with a contemporary view on the same subject on the Sunday.

The first two movies were about being displaced from home. But I saw another theme in both movies – the tension between morality and love. In both movies the main players had to make morally tough decisions balancing love and doing the right thing.

What I really liked about the first pair is that not only did I enjoy the movies individually but also as I watched the pair, it made me reflect on how love, duty, morality and societal pressures have changed.  In my worldview, morality and love should be absolute and unchanging. But that’s me. I tend to think about these things a lot.

I had the honour of meeting the curator too – a very unassuming  gentleman. But if the first pair is anything to go by, the rest of the programme should be brilliant.

Looking forward to the rest. Go. Tickets here.



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