Both a film-within-a-film and a beguiling mystery, Sandi Tan’s captivating documentary attempts to piece together the long lost feature she made as a teen and track down the man who stole it from her.
In 1992, precocious 18-year-old Singaporean cinephile Sandi Tan wrote and starred in her own feature titled SHIRKERS, inspired by her love of lo-fi auteurs like Jim Jarmusch. With a supporting cast of locals and crew made up of Tan’s teenage friends, the film was directed by Georges Cardona, a charismatic older man of indeterminate age and uncertain origin who held Tan and her friends under his sway. After a summer spent feverishly shooting, Tan and her compatriots headed back to college, leaving 70 cans of un-edited footage in Cardona’s care. Then, Cardona disappeared, and with him so did SHIRKERS. Twenty-five years later and still smarting from that disappointment, Tan goes on a quest to reclaim the memory of SHIRKERS by tracing Georges Cardona’s shadowy past and making sense of why he sabotaged her project years ago. With all recorded sound lost, the recovered footage from the original SHIRKERS provides a ghostly presence throughout Tan’s decade-spanning story. With its hyper-saturated color palette and strikingly composed images of Singapore as it appeared in 1992, the footage is a touching reminder of all that was lost and all that could have been.
In Competition: Best Documentary Feature
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