The movie “1965” which is set in the early days of Singapore’s independence with racial tensions forming the backdrop will begin its pre-production this month. It is slated to be a dramatic thriller on how fragile racial harmony can be.

The film, which has a budget of S$2.8 million, took five years to develop. About 40% of the budget is financed by MDA.

Daniel Yun, executive producer of the film said, “A year ago, we finally found a strong enough premise, and an engaging story and theme. And then the Little India riot happened. And we felt that, wow, it’s really is not just then but now. And it’s not something that involves only Singaporeans, but actually everyone around the world.”

The script was said to have been revised more than 60 times.

Screenwriter Andrew Ngin said the challenge was to make the story not come across as a history lesson, while trying to balance various elements. “There’s action, there’s drama, there’s a little bit of comedy, humour, and then to integrate it all into one coherent Singapore story, I think that was a huge challenge,” he said.

“We hit upon a plot element that could actually make the script into a mainstream movie while incorporating all the historical elements and appealing to anyone. If I told you the plot you’d get it. You don’t have to be a Singaporean and you’d get it. But if you watch it and you’re Singaporean, you’d enjoy it more,” he added.

However, the lead actor and actress will be played by foreigners instead of Singaporeans.

It was announced yesterday (2 Sep) that PRC actor Qi Yuwu will play the police officer, Inspector Cheng, while Malaysian actress, Deanna Yusoff, will play Khatijah, a mother and owner of a small business who encounters a shocking turn of events in those turbulent times.

Said the Malaysian actress, “I think what is important is that whatever happened then, is what has made us today. What we have here today, is what happened in the past. Those are very important times to find out more about and relive.”

Qi who is hailed from Guangzhou, said, “Through this movie, I hope to express the emotions I have about this country. So I cherish this opportunity very much. In this movie, I will be speaking in Cantonese, so I can use the language that is most comfortable to me to express myself. So I feel that it will be a genuine, comfortable and very sincere work.”

Most of the filming will be done in Batam. Actual production of the film will start in November, and it will be released next year, in time for the SG50 celebrations which commemorates 50 years of the independence of Singapore.

The film is supported by MDA.

Some netizens are not happy that the lead roles of an important film about Singapore’s independence are taken up by foreign actor and actress as if to underscore the point that Singaporeans have to depend on foreigners to survive.

A reader said, “I mean… I cannot believe they can come up with something like this. The lead roles should be taken up by Singaporeans since the film has a national significance to the people of this country!”

The reader added, “Furthermore, this film is supported with our taxpayers’ money. Why can’t MDA support our own actor and actress? What is MDA trying to imply? That Singaporeans are not good enough and we need FTs!”

With government agency like MDA which has no qualms supporting “foreign talents”, what does it tell you about the rest of the PAP government?

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