The Neighbourhood Shops are Where the Heart Is

Edwin Soedarmadji’s The Neighbourhood Shops are Where the Heart Is was one of the most charming films entered in the project’s 90-second short film competition, WHERE THE HEART IS.

A lovely animated ode to the valiant struggle of a small community rallying behind its neighbourhood shops, it perfectly encapsulated the themes that lie behind Civic Life, in a response that amused and touched, while at the same time resonated strongly with the current public debate in Singapore over the role and value of ‘mama shops’ and ‘wet markets’ (fresh markets) in face of the relentless expansion of supermarket chains.

The film was one of the top 20 films of the competition, and the only animation to make the shortlist. It was subsequently selected by DepicT! for inclusion in their TOP 15.

Says Edwin: I love to shop, eat, and relax at my neighbourhood shops, where I observe and interact with people from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds in a very informal setting. For me, these shops function as the heart of the surrounding community. In our body, blood travels through the heart. In our community, our lives intersect at these shops. They are the unique signatures of cities such as Singapore, Tokyo, Beijing, Mumbai, London, and New York.

Over the years, I have witnessed the resilience of these shops amidst the challenges posed by many heartless corporate stores that are inserting themselves into the ecosystem. However, I don’t think we should take this longevity for granted. I made this film to remind ourselves to continue promoting and supporting them financially, so each cluster of these neighbourhood shops can remain where our collective heart is.

Another entry in the competition was the lyrical Dhoby Shop, by JS Rosanah, looking at the memories of a young Singaporean, about to leave to study abroad, of his grandfather’s laundry shop. Enjoy!

WHERE THE HEART IS was a collaboration with DepicT!, a programme of the Encounters Short Film Festival. Thanks to Mark Cosgrove and Maddy Probst over in Bristol for their support of the project.

Visit the WHERE THE HEART IS vimeo channel here.

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