Singapore International Children’s Film Festival

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A friend—a neighbor and a preschool teacher—stopped us in the elevator yesterday and told us that we must go to the Singapore International Children’s Film Festival, curated by Big Eyes, Big Minds and held at The National Gallery of Singapore. And, so we did!

The Festival aims to showcase the best new “high quality, culturally diverse, and value affirming” films for children from around the world. Big Eyes, Big Minds’ vision is to increase media literacy by cultivating film appreciation, increase the knowledge of the craft of filmmaking, and provide a platform for children to screen their own creations.

We screened One, Two, Achoo, a series of shorts for children ages 2 to 6. Octopus (Germany) by Julia Ocker, One, Two, Tree (France) by Yulia Aronova, and Rita and Crocodile: Zoo (Denmark) by Siri Melchior were outstanding. The Preschooler also enjoyed Perfect Piggies (USA) by Sandra Boynton and Achoo! (Japan) by Yuki Hirakawa. Her father and I cared far less for Trude’s Flatmate: Digger (Germany) by Johannes Weiland, Klaus Morschheuser, and Michael Bohnenstingl, a film that relied on “noble savage”/”white savior” tropes, which was rather discomforting. The shorts not in English are both subtitled and voiced-over. 

The Festival resumes next weekend, and there are offerings for every age group. Buy tickets here. Go, go, go and vote for your favorite! The filmmakers who receive the most votes will receive a prize from Singapore’s children.

Singapore Alternative Art and Book Festival 2014


Another day, another book festival to which I showed up three hours early.

On Saturday, I arrived at the Singapore Alternative Art and Book Festival in the Living Room of The Arts House at noon; the Festival began at 3pm. I wandered around for a bit, checked out the schedule for the Freedom Film Festival (held in conjunction), had a bite, and, finally, checked out this annual independent festival for Singapore’s book publishers and art makers.

The selection of books was progressive and politically-minded and I spent hours browsing. Did you catch the readings associated with the Festival? Or any of the films? I wish I had made more time this weekend for this event. Next year, for sure.

A Design Film Festival 2011

On Saturday, several of my book arts* students and I caught the second screening of How to Make a Book with Steidl, a documentary about one of the most important publishers of photography of the 21st century, at A Design Film Festival 2011. A brief synopsis: filmmakers Jörg Adolph and Gereon Wetzel “follow Gerhard Steidl over a year at his publishing house in Germany. Working with artists and celebrities such as Karl Lagerfield, Robert Frank, Gunter Grass, and Joel Sternfeld, Steidl presents as a meticulous, curt technician who puts his soul into the fragile processes of capturing creativity in a book. The film portrays scenes between Steidl and the artists in action, revealing the playful yet exacting process of their creative collaboration.”

The film was so-so; a number of us found it choppy and unfulfilling. No matter. We had a lively discussion after about our mutual admiration of Steidl’s dedication to his craft.

How I wish I had made the time to watch more films at this year’s festival! Making Faces, New York in Motion, and PressPausePlay were all on my list. Ah, well. Next year, I shall be buying tickets as soon as the line-up is announced.

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* On Saturday, I taught my last book arts class of 2011. It’s been such a joy sharing my avocation with teachers, students, collectors, librarians, book sellers, and artists over the past few months. Now, I’m planning for 2012. Expect lots of announcements, including dates for more introductory workshops and weekend intensives (featuring intermediate and advanced hardcover bookmaking techniques), in the first quarter of next year.

uniQgift: A Giveaway [UPDATED]

One of the benefits of blogging is the generous invitations that I receive from artists, educational institutions, and independent retailers.

Last month, Word of Art, a boutique communications firm, invited yours truly to Cookyn Inc. (located in lush Garden Hub, a horticulture and gardening marketplace of sorts) for the launch of uniQgift‘s new holiday packaging. Guests were asked to select two “experiences” to enjoy at the event. I experienced a cooking lesson with Cookyn Inc. and a consultation with pictoral. (I’m in the market for a new camera.)

uniQgift promises “no more #failgifts” and I was particularly attracted to the “Hands-On” box. This gift is great for someone who likes to work with his or her hands and is always interested in learning something new.

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Does that sound like someone you know? (No, not me.) The kind folks at uniQgift and Word of Art have sent me a “Hands-On” experience box to give to one of you! Redeem your uniQgift voucher for a dance, cooking, art, or design lesson/workshop with one of the 20 partners listed in the guidebook.

To win this uniQgift experience (retail value: SG$128.00), leave a comment below. Entries without an email address will be disqualified.

This giveaway is open to my readers in Singapore only and will close on November 14, 2011 at 12:00AM UTC/GMT +8 hours. This giveaway is now closed. The winner will be chosen by and be announced on November 16, 2011.

My Singapore: Song Lim, Jeremy Tan, Lizzy Lee, and Derek Foo of RediscoverSG

A few months ago, I stumbled upon a delightful video blog, RediscoverSG. The RediscoverSG crew, Song Lim, Jeremy Tan, Lizzy Lee and Derek Foo, can be found out and about the island state, shooting stories, giving out freebies, and “making cool things happen.” In their own words: RediscoverSG “is a collaborative effort to tell stories, to bring to light the ones that matter, and to remind ourselves why, despite how much and how often we love to complain, Singapore will still always be home.”

I think the crew is incredibly talented—I invite you to check out the first of ten episodes of Unseen/Unsaid, a ten-part web series partially funded by the National Heritage Board—and I find their blog informative. As a temporary resident with a host of quirky interests, I am quite smitten with their local finds. However, I can’t help but notice that these young people (nearly a decade younger than me!) are already terribly nostalgic about their childhoods. I know that Singapore has grown at a breakneck pace, but as I talk to and learn from others here, I have come to realize that development has also been heartbreaking for some.

Song, Jeremy, Lizzy, and Derek are hungry, curious, down-to-earth, and humble and, today, I’m thrilled to welcome them to notabilia to share their Singapore with you!

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Derek loves the prawn mee noodles from Heng Heng Prawn Mee Soup in Dunman Road Food Center. He also loves the rojak from Lau Hong Ser Rojak (same food center). The owner here has a very eccentric habit of opening from exactly 4:38PM to 1.38AM everyday. The rojak is amazing; you can add a century egg to your rojak on request.

Jeremy loves the char siew, roasted duck, and pork from Bedok Cooked Food at Kovan Food Center. There’s always a long queue during lunchtime. He always orders a plate of char siew and a glass of sugar cane juice whenever he’s here.

Lizzy’s ultimate comfort food is from Qiurong Handmade Noodles, hidden in the basement of Roxy Square, opposite Parkway Parade. Many people who live in the estate don’t even know about this gem which she proclaims to be the best banmian in the whole country. She could eat it every day, and because she always orders the exact same thing, the stall owners immediately start preparing her food without words when they see her coming.

Song’s favourite wanton mee is from Hong Ji Mian Shi Jia Wanton Mee at Telok Blangah Food Center. It’s his comfort food.

A unanimous favourite is definitely Fengshan Market and Food Center or “Bedok 85.” There’s so much good food here that we can’t list our favorite stalls. Go there before the food center closes for renovations in February 2012!


We don’t shop very much but Basheer Graphic Books is definitely our go-to for design inspiration and resources.

Lizzy is slightly embarrassed to admit that she sometimes shops on GMarket because it’s really affordable. As for the guys, they love shoes and drop by LeftFoot sometimes to check out special edition sneakers.


We hang out quite a lot at coffee shops and supper places, sipping teh ping (iced milk tea) and kopi ping (iced coffee) and discuss our lives and our dreams. One of our favourite chill-out spots is Dunman Road Food Center as it is very quiet and has great food.

Another of our favorites is CrazyWorld Café, where we just held our media launch for Unseen/Unsaid. The owners, Edgar and Florence, are amazing people and their café combines their love for Chinese music and a desire to support the local Chinese music scene. The café is both a performance venue and a shop and is a peaceful place to unwind and relax.

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FYI, RediscoverSG has created a series of “DIY paper toys” as part of the Unseen/Unsaid project. Proceeds from the sales will be donated to Mainly I Love Kids (MILK). They are hoping to raise SG$10,000.

Need directions? Check out notabilia’s My Singapore guide!

Know a creative person who wants to share his or her must-stop spots with my readers? Please email all suggestions to me with the subject line ‘My Singapore.’

(Additional credits: Photographs via RediscoverSG. Used with permission.)

The Cathay Gallery

Speaking of movies

I literally stumbled upon The Cathay Gallery while traipsing around The Cathay the other day. The Cathay Gallery features the history of the Loke family and their various business interests in Malaysia and Singapore. (The patriarch of the family, Loke Yew, was a famous businessman and philanthropist who “played a significant role in the growth of Kuala Lumpur.” His son, Loke Wan Tho, was “a cinema magnate, ornithologist, photographer,” and founder of Cathay Organisation in Singapore and Malaysia.)

The gallery displays an incredible collection of memorabilia related to their businesses and personal interests, including glass cases full of early cameras and projectors; rows of cinema chairs; and photographs of a host of Hollywood stars, including one of my style icons, Audrey Hepburn.

Most interesting, to me at least, were the television screens playing clips from the “Cathay Classic Film Library,” a collection of 270 Mandarin, Cantonese and Malay titles. When I popped by, scenes from The Greatest Civil War on Earth (1961, Mandarin/Cantonese) and The Wild Wild Rose (1960, Mandarin) fluttered by.

I hope I can get my hands on these two films and other classic films of the era. I assume the National Library will have copies. My dear Singaporean readers, are there any films from your youth you’d like to recommend? I’ll watch anything… as long as it is subtitled!

(Additional credits: Photograph via The Cathay Gallery.)