Forum: Documentary about the local indie music scene, a stellar, Forum News & Top Stories


The 32nd Singapore International Film Festival presented a quintessentially Singaporean film that we can all be proud of.

Scene UnSeen has been a documentary about the local underground music scene since the 1970s, and it’s as honest, steadfast and intimate a performance as it gets.

Hailed as the world premiere, Sunday’s screening saw no red carpet or celebrities, but its audience – clearly fascinated by the music, integrity, and DIY philosophy of the independent scene – more than made up for it.

The question-and-answer sessions – the first involving the producer and crew, and the second with independent musicians present and past – were informative and stimulating, with lots of on-screen passion and issues such as discrimination and gender policy being disseminated.

The evening was rounded off with lively performances from independent bands The Oddfellows and Obstacle Upsurge.

The screening of the film pays tribute to the indie greats who passed away too soon: Abdul Nizam, the musician and director of the film who died in 2016; Kuo Pao Kun, the dean of the local theater and founder of The Substation, venue for many independent concerts; Lee Wen, visual artist and musician; and X’Ho, DJ and musician.

Recalling a quote often attributed to music producer Brian Eno, that “Velvet Underground’s debut album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band,” I hope that this film will similarly inspire a new generation of local independent musicians.

Colin Lim


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