First Trailer for Sundance Winner ‘Shirkers’ Revisits a Thwarted Film Production

Written by on September 24, 2018 


Winner of the World Cinema Documentary Directing Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Shirkers was picked up by Netflix and now ahead of a fall debut the first trailer has arrived. Produced by Maya Rudolph, Sandi Tan’s documentary follows the director revisiting her past as she embarked on shooting a film back in the early 90s in Singapore. However, the footage was stolen and the film never came to be. Judging from the first trailer, it looks to be a deeply personal, artistic look at revisiting both a fruitful and painful past.

Dan Schindel said in his review, “The old shots of Tan, her friends working on the production (the extremely well-preserved footage included all the behind-the-scenes bits), and the city are frequently cut with modern-day material. The ‘90s portrait of youthful energy is now directly a photo album of their youth. Tan compares shots of buildings once under construction to the finished structures, or to now-shuttered locations, or to things that have replaced what once was there entirely. People age or de-age in a blink; reminisce becomes a dialogue between what one dreams for themselves and what they actually become. It evokes legitimate wistfulness for the movie that could have been; Shirkers might not have been a masterpiece, but from the footage it looks well-shot, compelling, and imaginative.”

See the trailer and poster below.

Shirkers was a Singapore-made 1992 cult classic from teenage friends Sandi Tan, Jasmine Ng and Sophie Siddique —or it would have been, had the 16mm footage not been stolen by their enigmatic American collaborator Georges Cardona. More than two decades after Cardona disappeared, Tan, now a novelist in L.A., returns to the country of her youth and to the memories of a man who both enabled and thwarted her dreams. Magically, too, she returns to the film itself, revived in a way she never could have imagined.


Shirkers opens on October 26 on Netflix and in theaters.

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