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CHECKPOINT
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Travel in the post-Osama world can get complicated - especially if you insist on travelling cheap.
 
 
Festivals:
 
2004 Cinemasia Amsterdam Film Festival (European premiere)
 
 
Duration: 7 min
Language: English
Shooting Format: DV (Colour and B&W)
 
 
Production Notes:
 
What I experienced in Woodlands terminal is a minor inconvenience compared to many others who have been harrassed, detained, abused or even killed on account of their ethic and religious profile. But my own non-violent experience did leave me feeling violated, and so I wanted to share what I went through.
Probably the most "challenging" shot here is the silent one-minute track of the Causeway, where the whole point is that the scenery looks exactly the same through-out despite the fact that we are crossing the border between two frequently bickering countries. The final shot is of the sky, where you can't tell which country "owns" it. I know this sort of rationale seems somewhat utopian but I wanted to get back to a very basic and seemingly naive way of looking at things. After all, the sum effect of taking away basic rights (including the right to a reasoned public debate on contentious issues) is to make sure people are treated like children, so it's not too inappropriate to react like a child.
People who work in DV always have a slight inferiority complex since we're not "really" using film. So I got my talented friend Danny Lim to take 35mm still photographs at the terminal - well, it IS film, so there!
The poem extract is from my favourite Singaporean writer and also, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest writers alive today. By coincidence, Alfian staged a play called "Causeway" a few months after this short was completed. It began with a scene of the Causeway being bombed, legitimising farce as a cathartic responsive tool. The play stressed that personal relationships will endure long after the historical ironies of separation and different forms of colonialism have ceased being comprehensible. And when all else fails, we can all look at the sky, can't we?
 
 
Writer/Director/Camera/Producer: Amir Muhammad
Editor: Hann
Still Photography: Danny Lim
Extracts from poem "The Johor Incident" by Alfian bin Sa'at