A heartfelt Singapore documentary that can either pass off as a tribute to the unsung heroes who entertain us with their sounds or music in some of the most inconspicuous places; or a thinly veiled sarcastic dig at the socio-political climate of an authoritarian contemporary society, Singapore GaGa succeeds by being a palate of sound clips that speaks to everyone.
It is the oft-unseen story of the lives of the minorities, outcasts or characters from the fringe of our society. Whether be it the madrasahs school girls in their tudungs (headscarves) belting out cheerleading tunes in Arabic or English during their sports day or Ying, the old man who does a wonderful rendition of tap dancing, juggling and playing the harmonica simultaneously at MRT stations, these Singaporeans continue their endeavours and unconsciously created their individual identity and what it means to be a Singaporean.
The documentary also poses pyscho-social dilemmas of being a citizen. In Margaret Leng Tan's performance of 4”33 at the HDB (government housing) void deck in which the audience is confronted with the clash of voices within our heads and the sounds of our environment, Pin Pin deftly juxtapose a shot of the MRT train door closing announcement with passengers staring blankly into space to contrast the idea of sounds.
In other instances, Pin Pin films the maker of sounds from an older and forgotten generation. We are witness to the dialect news report that caters to the elderly Singaporean Chinese. The famous ventriloquist, Victor Khoo, who has entertained children in his performances with Charlee lamented that they have yet to receive a national award despite all their years of bringing laughter to kids. Yew Hong Chow, a skilled harmonica player tells the story of how the musical instrument was sidelined.
In short, Tan Pin Pin's Singapore GaGa is one of those few Singapore films that is uniquely Singaporean; yet with a global appeal that will bring a smile to most audiences with a receptive listening sense.
Singapore GaGa will open at the Arts House, 11 March – 16 April 2006.
Showtimes: Every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday
$8, $6 (Students with ID)
Ticket Hotline:6332 6919