The Honour Film Initiative shines spotlight on everyday heroes in Singapore.
They are our first responders when fires break out. They miss their own birthday celebrations to keep our trains moving. They leave their own families to take care of ours. They build our first satellite earth station, laying foundation for our highly-wired city today.
Dignified and decorous, these everyday heroes work quietly behind the scene and rarely make headlines for their contributions. In the spirit of honoring them, a group of young filmmakers have turned the spotlight on their sacrifices through 8 short films.
These films, based on or inspired by real people, were recently screened at Singapore’s National Museum as part of the Honour Film Initiative, a collaboration between non-profit charity group Honour (Singapore) and Ngee Ann Polytechnic, an institution of higher learning.
The films moved many in the audience, among whom were Baey Yam Keng, MP and Parliamentary Secretary of Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), Lim Siong Guan, Founder of Honour (Singapore) and Group President of Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC, and Anita Kuan, Director of Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s School of Film and Media Studies (FMS).
Commenting on his favorite short film Firefighter, Mr Baey said it’s “a reminder that we can’t take things for granted”. Whether it’s food on our table or the little joy in our lives, “they don’t just happen like that, someone must have done something for us,” he said.
For Mr Lim, his favorite film is Ayah (Father) – a story on how a daughter comes to appreciate her father’s readiness to respond to last-minute duty calls even on his own birthday. Mr Lim also commended the young participating filmmakers for being able to interpret and present the abstract ideal of “honor” in an “extremely moving” way that “speaks to the heart”.
“If you look at the audience and the way that they react, they can connect with what’s in the films,” Mr Lim added.
Ms Kuan agrees that the short films resonate with many in the audience. She said the initiative has also benefited many student filmmakers from her school. “That whole process of coming up with the story, the interviews, piecing things together … that (in itself) has transformed the lives of some of our filmmakers.”
More than 230 members from the civil service, civil society and the education sector watched the screening on 22 July 2016.
The film initiative is part of Honour (Singapore)’s push to promote a culture of honor and honoring. To its founder Mr Lim, he hopes Singaporeans can internalize the ideal in 2 ways. “First, to be people who honor our words, to keep our promises. Second, to be people who honor each other, who respect, appreciate and recognize one another because we treat people the same way as we want them to treat us.”
Mr Baey further emphasized that honor is a cornerstone of Singapore’s success.
“That is what makes Singapore what we are today. I think it’s about people trusting us because we take our word seriously, and we make promises that we can deliver,” said Mr Baey. “We’ve come this far in 50 years, and I think honor will bring us hopefully much, much farther.”
The 8 short films can be found here.
More on “honor” from the audience:
“(The films) make you a bit less self-centered, and makes you think about the big picture — of who’s behind all these things, and who’s trying to fix the problem.”
– Jade Seah, Actress-Host
“I think the (films) reflect the quiet dignity of people whom we may not have a lot of interface with, you know, we may not meet some of them on a regular basis, but I think they are the ones that keep Singapore going. They are the backbones of Singapore. And truly, of course, they bring honor to the country.”
– Martino Tan, Managing Director, Mothership.sg
“From what I’ve been hearing (from the filmmakers), that whole process of coming up with the story, the interviews, piecing things together…that transformed the lives of some of the filmmakers. And I think that’s the most effective, when you go on that journey yourself, and not have somebody tell it for you. So I think on all accounts, that’s beautiful honor.”
– Anita Kuan, Director, Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s School of Film and Media Studies
“Everything is about information, it’s about knowledge. But for you to succeed in life after that, everybody will discover that in life we succeed by being trustworthy. People must be able to trust us. And they’re able to trust us because we behave in a certain way, because we are responsible in our behaviour, because we honor other people, and we honor our words.”
– Lim Siong Guan, Founder, Honour (Singapore); Group President, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC
“(Honor) is about liking your job, doing it with passion, and doing our best for it so that the people we serve can work with things that we do. So I think that is, in our own little way, to honor ourselves, to honor people around us, and honor society and the country.”
– Baey Yam Keng, MP and Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth