SGIFF: Singapore Directors Explore Japan With ‘Revolution Laundrette’

After cutting their teeth on a few well-travelled narrative shorts, Singaporean musicians and filmmakers Mark Chua and Lam Li Shuen directed experimental road music film “Cannonball” that premiered at the Singapore International Film Festival in 2018.

Their new feature film, the Tokyo-set “Revolution Laundrette”, is the tale of a young man who sets out to detail his existence as it plays out, in the hope of besting what he perceives as the looming punchline of some cosmic joke that he has unwittingly become a part of. However,  the situation spirals further into absurdity by his actions.

“The film for us, is a reflection on the convictions in our life, in the times we live in,” Chua and Lam told Variety. “The merry-go-round of their change and effect on each other. This revolution of our convictions and the convictions in our revolutions. We were really drawn to the task of peeling back the layers of and sitting with the fears of freedom and of exercising one’s will. To dive into the fantasies and nightmares that came out of this reflection with a pinch of humor.”

The largely self-financed film, with a budget of some $30,000, was shot over two years in Japan with the support of friends. “There were intermittent moments where it seemed like production would be halted. And it took a great deal of convincing, promising and sometimes fighting to acquire loans to cross those hurdles. But all in all, self-financing just gave us more freedom in how we wanted this film to be,” said Chua and Lam.

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“Revolution Laundrette” has its world premiere at the Singapore International Film Festival on Tuesday. “Having the world premiere for the film in our home country Singapore is really special because the intention of this film is something we really had hoped to put out into the cultural and the political dialogue here,” Chua and Lam said. “The chance to engage with the audience here with this form of alternative cinema is something we’re very excited about.”

The duo are now planning to present the film to a Japanese audience and further festival play.

Next up for them is an as yet untitled madcap adventure across land and sea, set in the region around the island of Temasek in the pre-12th century era. Scripting is currently underway.

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