In these unprecedented, trying times of COVID-19, sometimes all we need and seek is a little more positivity, kindness, and understanding from one another. Local filmmaker Zachary Yap has built two short films around that premise to rekindle the feeling of compassion and support among Singaporeans, as the world continues to ride out the pandemic together.
The projects are part of a commissioned job by IMDA that centre on the importance of relationships and the human touch. The first, titled Stay Home Neighbour, sees two strangers finding a way to connect in the midst of virus outbreak while serving their Stay-Home Notice, while the second, Sikit-Sikit, follows a beleaguered single mother who regains her faith in humanity after experiencing a small act of kindness.
Both reels hit close to home, especially with Sikit-Sikit set in the transitional phase leading up to the circuit breaker period. During that time, supermarkets in Singapore faced a shortage of essential items, with individuals hoarding and panic buying whatever items they could get their hands on.
Zachary dedicated the successful realisation of his films to his team, who he describes as “amazing and dedicated”. According to him, the pitch initially started way back in March, but the implementation of Phase 1 of the circuit breaker brought work to a temporary halt. Upon reaching Phase 2, the team was able to fully enter production and complete the commission, in spite of a tight timeline.
“The inspiration for Sikit-Sikit was drawn from various self-organised community initiatives surrounding the idea of mutual aid and community resilience—a flexible form of communal support that is horizontal and cooperative, unlike the vertical, bureaucratic, and sometimes dehumanising process of conventional charity work,” the homegrown filmmaker told Geek Culture. “With Sikit-Sikit, which means a little bit in Malay, it tells a simple story of care between people who recognises that a little kindness goes a long way, and that is what makes us human.”
This added touch of sentimentality is very evidently carried over to Stay Home Neighbours as well, where human emotions blend in well with the mix of humour, drama, and friendship. To this, Zachary explained, “I’ve always leaned towards topics of people who don’t really know one another but leaving some form of impact or memory in their lives. And you know how in Singapore, we are not really close to our neighbours but this virus is sort of unexpectedly bringing people closer to together but also causing them to be more distant physically.
“There is something oddly beautiful there which I felt that it was interesting to explore during these tough times. There is also some sort of magic in that context too which eventually help shape the premise of the film. At the same time, the story of people in quarantine is a perspective that the public does not often celebrate!”
Both films may be found on Zachary’s Viddsee page, where you can also check out his other works. It’s an extremely commendable showing from the man and his team, and the shorts have most certainly found a way to people’s hearts – ours included.