Royston Tan on lost memories and AH KONG
Royston Tan is one of Singapore’s leading filmmakers, whose films often explore ideas of memory and the Singaporean identity. Known for his distinctive cinematic style, Royston has received over 41 international and local film awards for both his feature and short films, notably Hock Hiap Leong (below), Sons, Cut and the features 15, 4.30 and 881. He has been recognized in Asia with several awards including ASEAN Director of the Year (2001), Young Artist of the Year (2002) by the National Arts Council in Singapore and in 2003, Netpac Jury has recognized him as one of Asia Most Promising Talents.
Ah Kong was commissioned by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) to raise awareness of dementia
The film tells the story of a grandson seeking to understand and reach out to his grandfather who is diagnosed with dementia.
Royston said he was inspired by his friend’s grandfather, who used to sell chickens but now suffers from dementia. He said, “I went to the place (home) and what happened was (that) I saw them feeding the chickens in HDB (flat), I mean invisible chickens. When I first saw it, I felt it was very, very touching, because rather than trying to correct the grandfather, he was actually partaking and joining in the whole experience of celebrating his life.”
A National Mental Health Survey for Elders in 2003 showed that there were 22,000 dementia sufferers in Singapore who made up about 5.2 per cent of those aged 60 and above.
You can see Ah Kong below: