MDIS students from the Teesside University’s Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Broadcast Media Production (Top-up) programme produced a short film titled, Helen, which was featured in the Short Film Social Watch Party event held on 28 May 2020, with the MDIS School of Media and Communications Senior Lecturer, Fuadi Rahmat as one of the moderators for the event.  Organised by SCAPE Co Ltd, a non-profit organisation that supports youth, talent and leadership development,  the  film  was shown alongside student works from other media schools in Singapore. While most of the works spoke about the need to extend care to marginalised communities in Singapore, Helen focused on a highly emotional issue of Infidelity through a man’s confession to his former and present partners, which is rarely seen in real life.

The story starts with a man narrating how he felt alive when he met another woman other than his legally wedded wife. He experienced personal love all over again while having to face life’s harsh realities, such as the need to earn and look after his family and to maintain his family’s expenses to the minimum. To him, Home is a private and intimate space where expressions of love can be shared freely. Unfortunately, capitalistic realities make expression of love difficult as his partners (both present wife and future partner) are concerned about daily living. He concedes that he is just too irresponsible to spare a thought for his family in realistic circumstances.

In this film, the students explored with an unwritten script. A bare structure constructed without lines. Actors were free to improvise to get a true sense of reality. Actors Sivakumar Palakrishnan (Husband), Karen Tan (Present Wife) and Yuvethra Se (Future Partner) displayed an array of emotions aimed at engaging audiences. Director of Photography Devamanikandan Kannaya Somu also gave his touch of ‘smoked scene’, a technique where cameras rolled in a gently smoked set. Student Director Sivakumar, assisted by Chua Bi Juan as the assistant director, set the narrative in the personal, edited by Lim Xueqi. Selfdirected and monitored with an external eye of an assistant director, Sivakumar could achieve internal and external harmony. Student Art Director Vivien Ong, assisted by Eugene Ho, also provided a unique aesthetic touch to a contemporary Singaporean home. Every property had its place. Bringing the film to the screen was made possible by Student Producer Lee Wan Lin.

“You can’t invest your heart in another when you don’t have the heart to know your partner,” said Director Sivakumar.

“Infidelity is a choice, not a mistake. One has to make a conscious decision. Every decision has a consequence and a price to pay,” shared Assistant Director Chua Bi Juan.

Infidelity is a complex issue, as the act in itself hurts women deeply. However, marriage therapist Esther Perel shared that most men who have committed adultery are also deeply monogamous in belief. The act of finding love in order to make them ‘alive’ again seems to emerge from human’s nature of curiosity and desire. A perennial bugbear in harmonious marriage.

As artists, MDIS students have chosen to take on a difficult topic in life, and to make sense of the dynamics of human nature in their creative project. Making choices is what humans do, but the consequences that come with every choice is tested by human’s acceptance. The creative team behind film project Helen hopes to keep many struggling souls facing challenges in their marriage company with this contribution.

Dr Richard Chua

As a media and arts critic, Dr Chua writes to discover knowledge within its liminal knowledge. As an educator, he delivers content to encourage constructive discussions.

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Dr Richard Chua

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