Local film director Royston Tan makes film about Popiah

17 May 2013 / 3 years 5 months ago

Source: The Straits TimesWhen making his new short film, director Royston Tan found out that the local snack popiah had originated in China during the Spring and Autumn Period (approximately 771 to 476BC) and then travelled south and was used as an offering for ancestral worship.When it made its way to Singapore, bamboo shoots were replaced with turnip in the roll. Tan muses: "It is so common in Singapore and yet it has had so much of a historical journey."It has reached another milestone in its journey - it is the "star" of Tan's short film, Popiah.He was moved by the tradition of spring roll lunches held at Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery to co-write and direct the film about the strained relationship between a son and his father caused by their differences in their values.Tan, 36, says: "It's a vegetarian popiah and I really enjoy the process of seeing people helping one another to roll it. I see the renqingwei (compassion) of it. In modern society, we tend to forget how to appreciate and be grateful for the simple things in life, such as common food like the popiah. Wrapped within the thin popiah skin is the filling made with love by many people."The 13-minute family drama stars MediaCorp actress Yvonne Lim as Youngest Auntie and getai veteran Liu Lingling as Third, Auntie. Newcomers Tan Eng Hock and Adam Lim play father and son.It will be launched at an invitationonly screening this evening at Cathay Cineplex Cineleisure Orchard. There will be free public screenings held at the monastery on May 23 and Vesak Day on May 24.The DVD is available from the monastery's reception office from tomorrow and donations of any amount will be welcome for the community film project.Venerable Kwang Sheng, abbot of the monastery, says: "The film Popiah strives to remind Singaporeans about the value of gratitude in our daily lives. Gratitude is the source of strong cohesion among families, communities and nations."This is the second collaboration between Tan's outfit Chuan Pictures and Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery. The first was Little Note (2009), which focused on the relationship between a mother and son and centred on glutinous rice. According to the monastery's media contact person Chloe Huang, short films are a good way to reach out to more people as they are easy to circulate and hence get them to discuss the values in the films.Tan's award-winning features and short films include getai drama 12 Lotus (2008), youth drama 15 (2003) and Sons (2000), about a father seeking to reach out to his son. He is currently fine-tuning his script for, fantasy drama 69, about the friendship between a man struggling to come to terms with his wife's disappearance and a mysterious naked man.The script won the top Busan Award at Busan International Film Festival's Asian Project Market last year.Tan has found less success at making popiah. During the filming of Popiah, he rolled up his sleeves and learnt to make popiah skin. He professes that it was "not easy"."Being able to make it paper-thin requires a kind of gongfu (specialised skill)".

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