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  • Japan Premiere

Special Programs < New Action! Southeast Asia >

Stigma, Style

Director: Cheryl WONG Ye Han (王业涵)

2021|Singapore, USA|13min|Language: English|Subtitles: English, Japanese

Date Time Venue
3/11 Fri 19:00《Short films program 7》 Cine Libre Umeda 3
3/16 Wed 11:30《Short films program 7》 Cine Libre Umeda 4
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Gabby TAY
Risa Ann WONG
Nur Azirah
Hannah SIM

In an atmospheric short taking place on a sticky summer’s day in Singapore, Kerri, our central protagonist, is fretting about spending time at her friend’s house. Specifically, it is the pool, as she has been invited to dive in. With the fast moving currents of adolescence whipping around her due to a growing awareness of changes to her own body and the perceptions of others, she is reluctant. However, her friend’s sister, Clara, gives her confidence in a way. Is it admiration or a crush? Being brave, Kerri swims into those currents to get closer to Clara and we see how she grows.

Drawing upon her own background, director WONG tells a story of girlhood via the central protagonist’s growing self-consciousness and resistance to the pressure of others as she finds the courage to take ownership of her oncoming womanhood. This sensitive story was captured by an all-female production crew.

[Jason MAHER]

Director's Message

Stigma, Style is reminiscent of my girlhood; the retrospectively carefree days with my fellow all girls’ school classmates that consisted of swimming after school, climbing mango trees by the pool in the sticky heat and dancing along to music videos, combined with the terror of being bad-mouthed by a close friend or my body changing before the others in my ballet class.

I wanted to capture the moment of a young girl in flux as her body changes and she experiences the first glimmers of sexuality - is it a crush she has or is it admiration? The line was never quite so clear for me. But where I was unable to find the courage to do anything about it then, Kerri does. She doesn’t do it in a huge way but the film is not quite so much about her crush on Clara as it is about taking ownership of her own womanhood and being empowered to foray into new territory on her own.

For this particular project, it was important to me to have an all-female production crew; I wanted our young actresses to be as comfortable as possible in their own bodies, and the story itself was begging for it. It wasn’t without difficulty and I found myself about to give in a few times, finding it much easier (and cheaper) to crew up with guy friends who had the skill set and were happy to work for free. It is to the merit of my producer, Kristian, that we stuck to the idea of an all-female production crew; I’d set out with a vision and she helped me remember what it was in the harrowing pre-production journey of fundraising, casting and crewing up. I hope our actresses’ performances are a testament to the wonderful and true collaboration we had on set.

In editing Stigma, Style, Kristian and I had to whittle down our material. There were too many elements in the script, and not very much time at all to delve into them, which ended up muddling the film on the whole. Our audience always understood what the film was about but it ended up being a dissatisfying watch. I suppose that’s always the problem with stories that are more personal — one gets so caught up in trying to recreate the dynamics and situations of the past that we forget that the audience isn’t quite privy to all the events leading up to what we see in the film. That, and our personal lives sometimes really aren’t all that interesting to watch. We chose to shave down all the moments with her brothers and friends, to hone in on Kerri’s moments with Clara, which we felt were the moments our film hinged on.

Stigma, Style isn’t a perfect film by far but it’s the first film I’m proud to say I made, and I am looking forward to sharing it.