Tan Kai Syng

- [Juror’s Statement]

Having shown my film in New Asian Currents more than two decades ago, I’m thrilled and humbled to be at the first physical YIDFF since COVID as a jury member.

In a time of Putin, Plutocracy, persistent persecution of minoritised people and push-backs, we need, more than ever, art to provoke reflection and re-imagination. Amid the era of fake news, AI, streaming and media saturation, film—and especially documentary film—offers exciting possibilities. As Apichatpong Weerasethakul reminds us, films can have a “shared sense of being,” sharing not just “suffering” but “joy.” He’s right. YIDFF was where the legendary filmmaker won a prize in 2001, and whom I also had the fortune to meet then. Indeed, since 1989, YIDFF has played a vital role in the film and arts ecology, to host and nurture bold visions that dance the beautiful tightrope between fact/fiction, truth/hope, traversing themes and genres from the mundane to mythical, messy to magical. And what an array of work we have this year! There’s migration, music, Myanmar, mental health, musings on the Muslim identity, and more. I’m currently working on three books exploring new definitions of “leadership,” with a focus on creativity, anti-oppression, futurity and hope. So I can’t tell you how honoured I am, to be amongst new, visionary leaders of tomorrow who can show us the future of not only documentary filmmaking, but humanity.

Tan Kai Syng

A hyperactive artist-academic-advisoragitator whose art catalyses new questions and action for change. In film, she works as director (BBC Culture in Quarantine; San Francisco International Film Festival Golden Gate Award), producer (Annecy International Animation Festival Official Selection), video artist (MoMA) and curator (Cinema South Festival). Her films are in the public collections of the Fukuoka Art Museum and Museum of London, and her work has an “eclectic style and cheeky attitude” (Sydney Morning Herald) and “positive atmosphere” (Guardian). Kai is currently Associate Professor in Arts and Cultural Leadership, University of Southampton.

Chlorine Addiction

SINGAPORE / 2000 / English / Color, B&W / Video / 44 min

- Director, Script, Photography, Editing, Sound, Narrator, Producer: Tan Kai Syng
Music: Philip Tan
Source: Tan Kai Syng

A humorous audio-visual essay in ten chapters by a multi-artist addicted to swimming one kilometer a day. A tongue-in-cheek voice-over narration read at furious speed and a flood of colorful images whiz by. Experiencing this film is like getting drenched in a sudden thunderstorm known as Singapore and not unlike the thrill of knowing that swimming pool chlorine can seriously damage your health.

How To Thrive In 2050: 8 Tentacular Workouts For A Tantalising Future!

UK / 2021 / English / Color / Digital File / 14 min

- Director, Script, Photography, Editing: Tan Kai Syng
Composer: Philip Tan
Animation: Zineb Berrais
Executive Producers: Jonty Claypole, Lamia Dabboussy, Natalie Woolman
Producer: Erika Conchis
Appearances: Bethany-Anne Arnold, Orion Corrigan-Arnold, Bob and Roberta Smith, James Smith, Tan Kai Syng
Source: Tan Kai Syng

During COVID-19, Tan Kai Syng turned into an octopus with the head of a pussycat. As this unique colorful character she makes full use of her eight tentacles to play cheerleader and agitator, serious and playful, listener and mediator—examining the artful future from the stance of the present with other artists, in this full-on “Octopussy” performative short film.