What Do 17 Yr Olds Know About Family Values, Abandonment & Neglect?


Closer-Apart GIF SS1

Viddsee Shortee for October is a powerful story about old-school Confucian values — working hard, sacrifice, filial piety.

That’s conventional, but here are two twists.

#1 TWIST The father figure reacts in a very old school behaviour: abandonment, neglect, and stunted emotional development. These are not acceptable in what we understand in family life, but they are timeless and old school too.

#2 TWIST Here’s another twist: this most-watched film ‘Closer Apart’ was made by 17 year olds.


Its setting and characters are familiar: a middle-class family who has set sights on what the future holds for them, but not the present. But it proves to be an unlikely setting for the man of the family to run away.

His actions can be construed as either self-sabotage, evasive behaviour, a punishment to his family, a mid-life crisis, or a failure of the family unit to hold themselves together emotionally.

What it is, we’ll never know how the story ends, as the creators have decided to leave this open-ended.

Closer Apart SS4

Viewers have questioned the film’s inconclusive ending, and whether the father’s drastic and sudden departure needed to be so emotional.

“Many of my friends (internationally and from Singapore), asked me the same pressing question about the father’s actions. But that’s not what the film is about,” says Jason Lee, the director.

This specific narrative about our family lives seems to be so familiar that viewers are more eager to reach a conclusive ending than to question the disharmony of relationships — resolution is best when we can move on as quickly as possible.

Watch ‘Closer Apart’《团圆》by Jason Lee on Viddsee:

Starring: Henry Thia & Joanne Chan
Executive Producer: Lee Yi Jia
Producers: Don Seah Wei Kang, Tan Jia Min, Vera Leng Yuxin
Assistant director: Sarah Koh Shin In

This is his debut film, made over seven months with five of his schoolmates from the Nanyang Junior College in Singapore.

Cast & Crew Closer Apart
Jason and the cast and crew of ‘Closer Apart. Source: Production Facebook album.

“Singaporean teens of our age do not have many stories to tell — apart from family and friends. We don’t have much life experience to base our stories on.”

“But filial piety is a theme and narrative that transcends ages. It was also something I could relate to and something that I could develop into a short film.”

Jason hopes that these questions can be a moment of reflection about just that — not the cliffhanger, the irrational emotional responses, but to the fact that neglect and ignorance damages relationships over time.

Look out for Viddsee Shortee for November — the most-watched film in the following month!

Here’s another film that turns conventional family values on its head, “3 Days Grace” by Kenny Tan, about a boxer who has to find a shred of kindness for his abusive father

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