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Migrant Films and the Migration Film Festival was an attempt by Migrant Voices to screen films about migrants and migration form all over the world. The goal was to provide a platform for filmmakers who have done work on the topic to showcase their work on a common platform with other similar films. The majority of the films screened were made in Singapore, with a few foreign ones slotted in between. The two ticketed editions of the film festival was particularly well received by the audience.

There was an attempt to involve more migrant workers in films and film production, but due to a lack of experience and resources, both human and financial, Migrant Voices was only able to produce one film – Confluence of Lands, which was also a product of the Migrant Voices Oral History Project in 2011.

26 to 27 August 2011 @ The Substation Façade for the 2011 Night Festival
11 September 2011 @ The Substation Theatre
15 December 2007 @ Pitch Black Café

Some of the films screened included:

Lights Out
23 mins
Produced and Directed by Wang Eng Eng and Chan Kah Mei

When the lights go out in Singapore, these men make their way out onto the streets to sleep. Lights out documents the lives and struggles of 3 migrant workers as they live on the streets and shelters of Singapore waiting for a solution to their problems. Like many others, they came full of hope to but in turn found themselves caught in bureaucratic loop holes and broken promises made by illegal labour agents. They ended up with no work and lived months on the streets. With no money and nowhere to go to, they wait for their turn to go home. Lights Out was screened at Substation’s ‘First Takes’ in May 10.

Migrant Dreams
20 Minutes
Directed by Lynn Lee & James Leong

Each year, tens of thousands of migrant workers travel to Singapore hoping for a better life. Most of them pay large fees to agents who promise them work as labourers in the construction and shipping industries. When the economy was booming, those promises were largely fulfilled. But as a global recession takes hold, horror stories are emerging.

Foreign Dreams
7 minutes
Produced and Directed by Elgin Ho

About a letter home written by an Indian construction worker. Foreign Dreams was awarded the Silver Crow bar at the prestigious Singapore Student Creative Awards 2002 and has been screened in film festivals around the world.

Promises in December
Produced and Directed by Elgin Ho

“Promises In December” surrounds two main characters; an Indonesian domestic helper and a Singaporean taxi driver. Individually from different backgrounds, they share similar expectations through their struggle, searching for ideals of life in Singapore. On a December day, their lives interweaved abruptly revealing the sacrifices each of them must face.

Bandhobi (Korean with English Subtitles)
109 mins
Produced by Indiestory, Directed by Shin Dong-il

Min-suh is a lonely high schooler. Her single mother is busy dating younger men and her friends are busy preparing for university. She takes care of herself through a part-time job that doesn’t cover the bills. Sick of her mother’s love affairs, she sometimes runs away from home.
One day Min-suh encounters a migrant worker named Karim; and ends up stealing his wallet, despite knowing better. Karim catches her but agrees not to involve the police so long as Min-suh grants him a wish to help him collect his delayed paycheck, which he is unfairly being denied by his Korean employers. Min-suh agrees to help Karim. In the confusion of the moment, Min-suh has become Karim’s money collector.

Confluence of Lands
17 Minutes
Produced by Migrant Voices Films, Directed by Jenny Chan

In Singapore’s Little India, a small minimart on Desker Road offers a moment of insight into the stories of migrant workers from different lands who will otherwise never cross paths if not for the dual workings of mercantile job agents and constrictive government policies. Through a Bangladeshi man’s minimart we witness the remarkable diversity of everyday life in this small corner of the world. The minimart, like so many other places in the lives of the migrant workforce in Singapore, represents a literal confluence of lands, a coming together of the many different faces and spaces of our migrant histories, presents and futures.

Special Pass
24 minutes
Produced by Rupture, Directed by Vicknesh Varan

Special Pass is a documentary about a group of foreign workers in Singapore who attempt to seek shelter and support themselves financially despite being jobless. Winner of the Singapore Short Film Awards, Singapore, Best Documentary Award.

Durai & Saro
27 Minutes
Produced by Rupture, Directed by Prema Menon

Droves of men and women from neighbouring Asian countries make up this transient work force and take up low-paying jobs- most men in the labour market, and women as domestic helpers. Many come looking to save their families from poverty. This invisible population contributes largely to the country’s stellar growth and ability to remain competitive in the global economy. Unfortunately, a growing number live on the fringes of Singapore’s society, receiving little or no payment from their employers. They face exploitation and suffer physical as well as mental abuse. Durai & Saro highlights the plight and loneliness of foreign workers in Singapore, the story revolving around the platonic relationship shared by Durai, an Indian construction worker and Saro, a Filipino domestic maid

About Migrant Voices
Migrant Voices was founded on 15 April 2006 and grew out of the realisation that many migrant workers turn to the arts as a release from their personal and work stresses.
Migrant workers leave behind families and deep kinship ties to work here, in order to provide a better life for their loved ones. Migrant Voices works with work permit holders, such as domestic workers and construction workers, who cook for our families, care for our elderly, clean our streets and build our homes. By bringing these different migrant workers together, we hope to share an insight into their lives, through the arts and to show that we are more than just economic tools in this country. Being human is about more than just making money. It is about having mutual respect for each other, realising we all have something to share and celebrating Singapore’s multiculturalism as our culture.

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