Everyone’s been abuzz lately with the recent premiere of Shirkers, a documentary by Singapore-born, LA-based filmmaker Sandi Tan. If you haven’t caught up with the news, here’s a low-down on what you need to know before it makes its worldwide premiere tomorrow on Netflix.
#1: It bagged a major prize at a major film festival
The documentary first came to prominence back in January this year when it nabbed the World Cinema Documentary Directing Award at Sundance Film Festival — the latter is the largest independent film festival in America and often considered to be one of its most prestigious. Sandi Tan became the second local filmmaker (after Kirstan Tan’s win in 2017 for Pop Aye) to win an award at Sundance.
#2: There are two works named Shirkers
There’s been some confusion regarding Shirkers: most media coverage delve into the backstory of the original 1992 work — it was destined to be a quirky slasher/road movie of sorts, written by a precocious Tan (she was then only 19) and assisted by her friends Jasmine Ng and Sophie Siddique. Of course, her film director Georges Cardona, a “40-something” American would famously and mysteriously disappear with all the footage, only for it to be returned 20 years later after his death by his widow.
Yes, it sounds like something straight out of well, a movie, and Shirkers (2018) is the resulting documentary by the same name that chronicles the whole saga, spliced with generous footage of the original work.
#3: It premiered to great fanfare in Singapore
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@shirkersfilm Singapore premiere @capitolsingapore last night: some pix including OG 1992 Shirkers reunion, perf of original 1992 score by Ben Harrison & the Shirkers circus, Jasmine FaceTiming Sophie in Poughkeepsie, young fans, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat speech, Mystery Boy (Leon) & S (me) reunited, Ben et moi @singaporefilmsociety @netflix
If you were one of the folks who managed to snap up tickets to the Singapore premiere last Saturday at Capitol Piazza, well lucky you. Shirkers might not boast a star-studded cast a la Crazy Rich Asians but we hear that the screening played to a full house, with indie electronic musician Weish as “opening act”, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in attendance and a touching moment when Tan herself was reunited with the OG Shirkers cast from 26 years ago.
#4: It might stand at a chance at the Oscars next year
The nominees for this year’s Gotham Independent Film Awards have just been announced – if you’re unfamiliar with the Gothams, they’re the first big nominations of “award season” in the States (which typically starts in November before climaxing in March) and are usually seen as a key indicator of potential Oscar winners later on. We’re happy to say that Shirkers is in the running for Best Documentary — fingers crossed, but reviews across the board has been pretty positive so far.
You really have no excuse not to watch Shirkers when it’s available in the comfort of your own home on Netflix. The streaming giant acquired the worldwide rights to the documentary in March — a notable acquisition, given reports that they’re cutting back on buying of documentaries this year. Shirkers airs tomorrow, October 26.