In this series, we get young, up-and-coming Singaporean creatives to discuss their personal style, their work, and about what keeps them going.
Yeo Siew Hua is a film writer-director from Singapore. His fictional feature, A LAND IMAGINED (2018), won the Golden Leopard grand prize at Locarno Film Festival, the first time a Singaporean had ever won the title.
Yeo is a founding member of Singapore film collective 13 Little Pictures.
A LAND IMAGINED’S narrative unfolds around the event of a missing construction worker in Singapore. How did you come up with this story, and why?
I wanted to ask if people would care for the well-being of a low wage migrant worker, if something were to happen to them; would anyone pay attention if a low wage migrant worker went missing?
I think it is important for a society to care for its working class and those living in precarious conditions.
These were the starting points of my story, and the rest came from real accounts from my encounters with this migrant community.
In the film, the protagonist dreams of situations before they happen. Do you believe dreams have a link to reality?
Dreams are real because they borrow from waking experience, like how ideas are real if they pertain to actual circumstances.
Just as well, a fiction is real if they are composed of real situations and the same goes for film. The element of dream in my film acts, not as prophecy but as a radical expansion of one’s consciousness, the ability to inhabit another time, another space, an Other world-ness.
Are you surprised at the awards that ‘ALandImagined‘ has won? Did you expect the success?
It’s been an amazing streak for us starting from our win at the Locarno Festival. I think someone counted the other day that we picked up 14 awards since. Honestly, I did not expect the film to resonate so hard, so far, with so many. It’s beautiful.
We saw you matched your blue CYC blazer with a graphic T-shirt. Is there a particular philosophy behind your style?
I think what you wear tells a story and I like to keep mine personal, unless I’m styling for someone else, like for a character in my film. The story does not always have to be exciting, but it has to be sincere.
How was your tailoring experience at CYC?
When I got my tux tailored at CYC for the red carpet event, it was truly painless. The attention to detail of the tailor and the garment – I thought that was very inspiring. I am a visual person, so put-together colours and textures excite me.
How does what you do for a living inform your personal style?
I think one’s personal style adapts according to situations and also grows as one learns more about oneself over time. I don’t think anybody’s style should be cramped by what one does for a living, or one’s ethnicity, religious alignment, class status and sexual identification/orientation even. You dress because you are.