In Time to Come

Aperture 2018


a film by Tan Pin Pin


★★★★ “Immersive, an invitation to dream” – John Lui, Straits Times

“Eerily beautiful” – James Latimer, Slant Magazine

“Compelling and subtle” – Carmine Grimaldi, Filmmaker Magazine

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15 Sep, 6pm: King’s College London

presented in partnership with Chinese Visual Festival


Past Screenings:

25 Mar, 1pm: Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow


dir. Tan Pin Pin, Singapore 2017, 62 min

Set in Singapore, In Time to Come follows the ritualistic exhuming of an old state time capsule, and the compilation of another. As enigmatic remnants of life from 25 years ago emerge – a bottle of water from the Singapore River, a copy of the Yellow Pages, a phone charger – today’s selection of items are carefully primed for future generations to decode. Interwoven are carefully composed shots of moments we rarely think to preserve: the in-between minutes of daily life spent waiting for things to happen, shot in locales as diverse as the lush jungle to a residential district infused with haze.

This picture of Singapore is both alluring and startlingly strange, already slipping beyond the present its inhabitants struggle to seize it in their hands. Like the time capsules in the film, this film itself is a vessel that transports us through past, present and future, a prism through which we glimpse alternate realities. The latest film presented by observer Tan Pin Pin builds on her previous bold and daring work, but leads its audience into uncharted cinematic territory.

Official Festival Selections:
Visions du Réel 2017: In Competition
Hot Docs 2017: In Competition
Sheffield DocFest 2017: In Competition

Tan Pin Pin – Biography

Tan Pin Pin_credit-Karine Azoub

(photo credit: Karine Azoubib)

Pin Pin started out as an assistant director in TV dramas and sitcoms  before she won an S. Rajaratnam scholarship to study for an MFA at Northwestern University, USA. While she was there, she won the Kodak Eastman Scholarship for Cinematography. She is a qualified lawyer and has a law degree from Oxford University.

Pin Pin is a co-founding member of filmcommunitysg, a community of independent filmmakers. She is currently a board member of the Singapore International Film Festival. She was also a former board member of The Substation and the National Archives of Singapore.

She has won or been nominated for more than 20 awards.

Tan is on the “Asian Cinema 100” list of top 100 Directors compiled by Busan International Film Festival. She has been on film juries of Cinemanila, Jiffest, Busan and DMZDocs amongst others.

Director’s Statement

When I started what eventually became this film, I was collecting images around the topic of public rituals that defined our daily lives. For example, school flag-raising ceremonies, fire drills, morning greetings by staff at department stores and opening ceremonies. Rituals by their  definition are repetitive and they recur across time, so there was an atemporal aspect to what  I had filmed. I wondered, could these rituals, shot over four years, be edited together to be a  commentary on modern life and on Singapore?

Since the period of this shooting also coincided with the commemoration of 50 years of  Singapore’s independence, there were many commemorative rituals that I recorded too.  One of them was the preparation of time capsules to commemorate this state event. We shot  the preparation of the objects and the sealing of the capsules. At the same time, there were old time capsules being exhumed and their contents were revealed and cleaned before us, and we filmed them too.

Time capsules embody man’s desire to contain the past, present and future, all in one object. The preparation of them spoke of the present’s perception of a future time, while their eventual exhumation referenced the past’s vision of the future too, as seen from the present. In that, time capsules are very similar to films. I have always felt that the act of seeing and recording is tied with the act of remembering, so from very early on, we wanted the framing to be wide and the shots paced in a stately manner. In effect, leaving an image on long enough, with enough detail and context so that it makes an imprint in the mind’s eye.

We found that splicing footage of very deliberate and ritualistic preparations of the time capsule together with our wide shots of daily rituals gave the film an otherworldly, strange yet familiar tone. In the edit, the past, present and future seemed to collapse together, giving the film a sci-fi bent. When this possibility opened up, we pushed the angle in the sound design. The film then became a surprising journey in and out of different time spaces, sometimes two spaces at once, a journey that is never signposted. Like most films of this nature, we glimpsed the film’s nature through the long process of editing, a glimpse that become more concrete and sharpened during the sound design of the film.

Also screening in Aperture / Southeast Asia focus

Diamond Island

diamond island

dir. Davy Chou, Cambodia/France/Germany 2016, Khmer + subtitles, 101 min

17 Sep: 8.15pm, Close-Up Cinema, London + Q&A with Kanitha Tith, UK premiere


Asia Through the Aperture – regional framings in cinema and art

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free workshop jointly organised by Aperture and CREAM, University of Westminster

18 Sep: University of Westminster, London


People Power Bombshell: The Diary of Vietnam Rose

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dir. John Torres, Philippines 2017, Filipino/Tagalog + subtitles, 89 min

24 Sep: Close-Up Cinema, London + Q&A with John Torres


The Island Funeral


dir. Pimpaka Towira, Thailand 2015, Thai + subtitles, 105 min

27 Sep: Close-Up Cinema, London + intro, London premiere

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