Martyn See’s films screened in Canadian film festival

Filmmaker Mr Martyn See’s films are being screened in Canada at the Toronto-Singapore Film Festival. Speakers Cornered (yet to be released in Singapore) and Zahari’s 17 Years will be featured among other entries.

Although Zahari’s 17 Years has been rated by the Government for screening, the authorities have been warning film centres against screening them.

Speakers Cornered Speakers Cornered
North American Premiere
2006: 27 minutes, English and Mandarin (English Subtitles)
Directed by Martyn See

Shot over several days in September 2006, when Singapore hosted the World Bank and International Monetary Fund Annual Meetings, Speakers Cornered captures the thwarted attempts of nonviolence activists to protest peacefully at Speakers’ Corner, a park designated for those with the urge to mount their soapboxes – though, as per the Singaporean way, not without first securing police blessing. In Martyn See’s latest film, the park’s legendary status as a white elephant without clothes is cast in cold hard stone. Living up to its title, its seventeen chapters reveal that to be shackled in Singapore is no metaphor. Stunning and yet strangely amusing, the litany of oppressions catalogued in Speakers Cornered are nothing if not an embarrassment to Singapore. Singapore’s authorities have seen the events that unfolded that week. Why shouldn’t anyone else?

Zahari's 17 YearsZahari’s 17 Years
North American Premiere
2006: 49 minutes, English and Mandarin (English Subtitles)
Directed by Martyn See

Martyn See’s second film, 78-year-old self-exiled journalist, poet and author Said Zahari reflects candidly on his seventeen years in detention without trial – the first time a Singaporean has spoken about the experience on film. In 1963, two years before Singapore’s independence, security police detained about a hundred opposition leaders, political activists and trade unionists for alleged leftist and communist activities. The new leader of an opposition party at the time, Said was convinced that his arrest was temporary, given the backdrop of Singapore’s turbulent struggle for sovereignty. He was wrong, forces having conspired against him. Look out for Lee Kuan Yew in a verbal cameo as a “political coward” whose founding father status Said categorically denounces. A trenchant and humbling encounter, Zahari’s 17 Years is also one of the program’s most poignant films.

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