12 Storeys

  • 105'
  • Singapore
  • 1997
The official picture of Singapore is of a dynamic port and trading centre. However this dynamism is largely to be found in economic success and not in a flourishing cultural life. One of the few film-makers in the city state is Eric Khoo. The tone of his 12 Storeys is acid and comic. As in his début Mee Pok Man, the film is set in a sterile concrete jungle. In the opening scenes, reality seeps through the propaganda painfully: while 'Singapore No. 1!' booms from the radio in the morning, a man commits suicide. He does so almost casually - he has certainly passed the stage when he might have wanted to attract attention. The reactions of his neighbours suggest that there wouldn't be much point in trying to attract attention anyway. They are more annoyed about the mess, regret not having seen it happen or have the same plan themselves, like a fat and sad woman who is abused by her mother throughout the film. Among the others who inhabit the same apartment block are the gawkish Ah Gu, whose Chinese mail-order bride refuses him any sex, and two trendy and bored pap-fed teenagers who are protected for a few days by their elder brother Meng, a living example of what the government wants. The dialogues, in 'Singlish' (Singapore English) and all kinds of Chinese dialects, provide a fine and funny picture, albeit tarnished, of a would-be Brave New World.
Eric Khoo
Country of production
Production Year
Festival Edition
IFFR 1998
Original title
Shier lou
Zhao Wei Films, Brink Creative, Springroll Entertainment
Zhao Wei Films
James Toh, Eric Khoo