Hot Docs 2018: Shirkers

A Singapore filmmaker revisits a film she made in her youth in Shirkers. When she was 18 years old, Sandi Tan set out to shoot Singapore’s first road movie with her friends Jasmine Ng and Sophie
Siddique. The film was directed by Sandi’s enigmatic American mentor Georges Cardona, who would disappear along with the footage after filming wrapped. 25 years later, Sandi revisits the film that she made and the mysterious man who disrupted her filmmaking dreams.

Shirkers is an autobiographical documentary by filmmaker Sandi Tan, as she revisits the film she made with friends back in 1992. All that exists of this road movie, also entitled Shirkers, were 70 reels of film without sound that were finally recovered a decade after Georges ran off with them. Sandi tries to get to the bottom of the mystery of why Georges did what he did.

Shirkers is a documentary in the vein of something like American Movie, in how it is a film about the making of another film, which was also titled Shirkers. This is a stranger-than-fiction story, involving Sandi Tan’s relationship were her mysterious middle-aged mentor Georges Cardona, who helped to make her film, only to take it away. Overall, this is one very fascinating film that also serves as a time capsule of Singapore in the early 1990s.

8 / 10 stars