The Independent

Cancer, lack of money didn’t stop young film-maker from fulfilling his dream

Winners of GV25 Film Shorts, The Moonmen – (from left) Joshuah Lim, Wesley Lim and Alvin Lim. (Photo: Golden Village)

By Laura Zhang

Chiak (Hokkien for “eat”) a local movie with a budget less than $2,000, won the GV25 Film Shorts competition. Golden Village, host of the film competition funded this film, according to Joshuah Lim, leader of the three-person team. Each team member and cast was given less than $200.

The 8-minute touching film had won the GV25 Film Shorts competition on Monday (30 October) evening, receiving a cash prize of S$3,000. Determined to win, the film director Joshuah Lim’s overcame the odds of his battle with leukaemia since August 2016.

In June this year, Mr Joshuah Lim’s team, along with two other finalists, received a $2,000 grant to make short films by Golden Village. Knowing the financial constraint, lead actor Danny Lim came forward to collaborate in kind but was turned down by the three film-makers.

Joshuah Lim, director of film Chiak (Photo: Joshuah Lim)

“Cancer only made me stronger,” said Joshuah at an interview with The Independent, after the team received the award in high spirit at SingPost Centre.

When the 22-year-old mentioned that his major source of inspiration was his health condition, he remained incredibly cheerful and composed. He frankly expressed his desire: “I knew I’ve always wanted to make a short film. So I just did what I really enjoy.”

According to Joshuah, from August to December last year, Joshuah went through countless chemotherapy sessions in hospital, something he described as “the darkest time of life”.

“From early this year till now, it [cancer treatment at hospital] has been on and off, including bone marrow transplant I’ve gone through. At earlier stage, I was very weak due to chemotherapy.”

“Over time, I could see myself change and grow stronger. I see life differently in the sense that all my passions were were transformed into a spiritual revival – going through cancer indeed drives me to do meaningful things to make people and myself happy.

“I’m still recovering. I need to wait for 5 years before it’s cleared,” said Joshuah, who currently works at a church.

The team of three was named Moonmen, and were course mates back in their school, Nanyang Polytechnics, where they graduated in 2015. Among the 3 finalist groups, The Moonmen were the youngest. Alvin Lim, 26, and Wesley Lim, 23, also shared they were able to take up the courage because of Joshuah’s unflinching determination.

“Wesley and I were inspired by his enthusiasm,” said Alvin.

“When we first heard Joshuah was diagnosed with leukaemia, I was scared of approaching him – I didn’t know how to talk to him appropriately,” said Alvin Lim, “The story he shared about life and cancer was extremely hard on him.”

In “Chiak”, a Mandarin film, a realistic reflection of a Singaporean family’s struggle in coping with dementia unfolds.

“We’ve had relatives with dementia and we wanted a story that could touch all Singaporeans,” says Joshuah Lim.

A scene in the winning film, “Chiak”. (Photo: Screenshot of “Chiak”)

Speaking of the future plan, Alvin said, “if an idea comes along, we will work again for our mutual interest at film-making.”

“I will probably ask them, and I will definitely try,” Joshuah said, giggling, “I would like to continue this creative momentum.”

“The other two groups of contestants have done remarkably well too,” said Wesley.

The other two finalists were a cappella group The Apex Project, who did a film on time manipulation, and television scriptwriter Marcus Goh, who revisited the history of the founding of Singapore. All three short films can be viewed online here.

Their short film will be screened in selected Golden Village cinemas for a period of two weeks, tagged to selected upcoming movies.

A scene in the runner-up film, “Sugar”. (Photo: Screenshot of “Sugar”)
A scene in the runner-up film, “Raffles v Utama: Dawn of Singapore”. (Photo: Screenshot of “Raffles v Utama: Dawn of Singapore”)

“Winning was not their top priority, but doing what they cared about and sending across a message that tugs at the audience’s heartstrings was their goal and that ultimately got them the win,” said director Boris Boo, who mentored Moonmen with his professional insights.

“Mr Boo gives very brief yet accurate pointers. He would highlight the most unassuming parts of the film, such as cutting down on many scenes of build-up – it became so much more effective and concise. In fact, our film was the shortest among all three,” said Moonmen.

Boo was also part of the judging panel which included film industry heavyweights such as directors Kelvin Tong, popular YouTubers Tree Potatoes, Singapore Film Society President Kenneth Tan and Golden Village’s Head of Programming Sharanjit Kaur.

Moonmen and Mentor Boris Boo (Photo: Golden Village)

“GV25 Film Shorts was designed to encourage aspiring filmmakers to come forward and share their ideas with renowned industry players. The initial response far exceeded our expectations, and we’re very pleased with the quality of the final three films,” said Clara Cheo, CEO of Golden Village Multiplex.

Leading cinema operator Golden Village hosted the competition “GV25 Film Shorts” since May this year.

“GV25 Film Shorts” is a new grant scheme for aspiring filmmakers to make short films in Singapore. It was developed as part of Golden Village’s 25th anniversary celebrations, and contestants had to align their film storyline with the theme “Past, Present & Future”.

There were over 200 entries for the competition, with only three being selected eventually. During the finale event, the top three finalists’ films were screened and the winner, a trio called “The Moonmen”, was announced.