NOW Magazine - - MOVIES -

shirKErs (Sandi Tan) is a mas­ter class in doc­u­men­tary sto­ry­telling. A high­light of this year’s Hot Docs Fes­ti­val, it is part mys­tery, part mem­oir, part teen movie and part be­hindthe-scenes drama that uses a tan­ta­liz­ing hook – the re­cov­ery of a lost clas­sic of Sin­ga­porean cinema – to tell a deeper per­sonal story. Grow­ing up in the stodgy South­east Asian city state, Tan and friends Jas­mine Ng and So­phie Sid­dique were ob­sessed with punk cul­ture, zines and indie films. In 1992, they teamed with Amer­i­can film in­struc­tor Ge­orges Car­dona to make a road movie but when pro­duc­tion wrapped he van­ished and took the footage with him. Years later, Tan is liv­ing in the U.S. when she re­dis­cov­ers the lost film. The footage is eye-pop­ping – a cin­e­matic trea­sure and gor­geous time cap­sule for pre-gen­tri­fi­ca­tion Sin­ga­pore. It trans­ports her back to her teen years and a friend­ship be­tween young women yearn­ing to ex­press them­selves in a con­ser­va­tive so­ci­ety. Re­u­nit­ing with Ng and Sid­dique soon takes greater promi­nence than re­solv­ing the mys­tery be­hind the film’s dis­ap­pear­ance. Though Car­dona’s ab­sence oc­cu­pies much of Shirkers, he turns out to be a sup­port­ing player in a story about the in­ten­sity and tran­sience of teenage friend­ships and how the suc­cess of a creative en­deav­our hinges on the alchemy among a spe­cific group of peo­ple. Shirkers is a movie about dashed dreams and the mean­ing­ful­ness of clo­sure, but it’s the op­po­site of bit­ter or rue­ful. Streams on Net­flix from Oc­to­ber 26. 96 min. NNNNN (Kevin Ritchie)

Sandi Tan re­vis­its her re­bel­lious youth in Shirkers.

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