Meet Viddsee Juree Finalist Sabrina Poon Of ‘Teng’

 

Sabrina-Poon

Sabrina Poon, nicknamed Spoon, has helmed six narrative short films and a documentary short. Her works have been screened in 6th Singapore Indie Documentary Fest, 6th Singapore Short Films, Beijing Film Academy Awards and others. A recipient of Akanga Film Asia Prize in scriptwriting, and Cathay Organization Film Prize, she was also awarded the Shaw Foundation Silver Medal & Prize.

Sabrina believes there are always stories to be told, and aims to convey it to the audience from a thoughtful perspective.

Teng_2

What is the inspiration behind this short film?
I always wanted to make a film that celebrates the relationship between a mother and child. What makes it even more compelling is our Asian culture of upbringing.

There’s a Chinese saying ‘打是疼,骂是爱’ which literally translates as ‘To hit is to cherish, To scold is to love.’ It’s more commonly understood as ‘Spare the rod, spoil the child.’

Teng was based on my personal life story. I am confident many Asians can relate. I spoke to many individuals on the one thing they recall of their growing up years. Most lament their parents caned them a lot. Some mentioned their parents only laid hands on them once, and that once or many times were effective reminders to help them correct a mistake early in life. Indeed, when we were young, caning is our fear, our enemy — yet it’s the way our parents show their unbiased love for us. To love unselfishly is to shower concern, and be willing to be strict and discipline us when we are in the wrong.

Teng_1

Growing up, I remember the different stages and mindsets I had for the formidable weapon — the cane. At the start, it was fearsome, you try to hide your palm before the cane strikes. Soon after, you learnt to hide and dodge the cane, always coming up with tricks to deal with it. The enemy is always the cane, rather than our parents. Because deep down, we knew it’s for our own good, whether we are up to mischief might jeopardise our safety, or we failed to meet academic expectations. It’s a bittersweet, love-hate relationship with parents (and the cane).

When I first wrote the script for Teng, it was a light-hearted story that focuses on the cheekiness of a child as she comes up with tricks on how to hide the cane. However, I decide to delve deeper, to focus on why parents did what they did, and how our younger self perceives it. This in turn, leads to how the relationship between us evolves. At some point while growing up, we reach a mutual understanding of each other’s efforts, and without much discussion, the caning stops. We learn more about each other, change the way we communicate our love and efforts to each other.

Teng-Still-3

In Teng, as LeXuan prepares herself for her big day, she finds an old cane, reminding her of her childhood, and the moments she shared with her mother. Prior to my film production background, I freelanced as a wedding cinematographer. Although most brides are excited for their big day, I learnt one thing in common. The nervousness sets in during their makeup preparation. The waiting makes them sits on their edge, finally taking in the realisation that they are parting with the loving environment they grew up in.

Teng embraces that a parent’s love never falters, and all they want is to give their blessings.

Watch ‘Teng’ by Sabrina Poon (Singapore) on Viddsee:

Teng is one of the ten finalists of the Viddsee Juree Awards Singapore competition, a filmmaker community initiative to celebrate and support filmmakers and film communities in Asia. Check out the rest here.

Want more awesome stories?