Joel Lee’s New Film Demonstrates Importance Of Adapting And Evolving With Time


Back in 1960s, five angsana trees stood tall at the Queen Elizabeth Walk, now better known as Esplanade Park.

The five angsana trees were fondly referred to as “gor zhang chiu kar”. It literally translates to ‘under the five trees’ in Hokkien.

It was the dating hotspot at the time. Lovers sat below the trees as they locked hands and stared into each other’s eyes. Friends also go there to unwind and chat.

But nothing lasts forever.

The five trees had to be cut down after a disease outbreak, the angsana wilt, struck in the 1990s.

To reignite the fond memories, five new disease-resistant angsana trees were transplanted here in the spot in 2015.

Wait, why are we talking about angsana trees?

Filmmaker Joel Lee used this event as an inspiration for his brand new film, ‘Under The Five Trees’.

Like the original five angsana trees, the older generation in Singapore risk being overtaken by younger workers – unless they evolve, says director Joel Lee.

In the film, we see a father struggling to adapt to new technology at work.

A father struggling to grasp technology
Father struggling to look for a job in ‘Under The Five Trees

He finds it difficult to navigate through his smartphone in order to get his work done as a cab driver and a delivery man.

This frustrates the people around him as he is wasting their time trying to figure out how his phone works.

Meanwhile, his daughter, who is an artist, effortlessly uses advanced software to produce her digital artwork.

Technology was not a big part in their upbringing

Father watching daughter's digital art in Under The Five Trees
Father and daughter in ‘Under The Five Trees’

“The film is about how we often forget that there are people we meet every day who don’t have the same skill sets and upbringing as we do,” says Joel Lee.

The senior generation finds it difficult to adapt to new technology because it was not prominent in their upbringing.

They are also used to jamming on buttons as opposed to tapping or swiping on screens.

According to Joel, there a whole generation of workers who are finding themselves in an awkward spot due to technology advancement.

In ‘Under The Five Trees’, the father eventually learns to adapt to new technology with the help of his daughter. The two work together to marry his blurry photos and her digital strokes to create a stunning output.

Father at art exhibition
Father showing off a digital artwork he made with his daughter

However, in real life, many senior citizens get left behind because they are unable to adapt to the fast-moving world.

What would you do the next time you see an old person struggling with technology? Do you help them out, or would you sigh in frustration because they are wasting your time?

Watch ‘Under The Five Trees’ by Joel Lee (Singapore) on Viddsee now

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