When Sandi Tan was a teenager in 1992 Singapore, she decided to make her first movie. It was to be a slasher road movie and it was going to be Singapore’s first indie cult hit — if it ever made it to the screen. But it never did.
More than 20 years later, Tan uncovers her lost film reels and the mysterious man who spirited them away all those years ago in Shirkers, a documentary that won the World Cinema Documentary Directing Award at this year’s Sundance. Now Netflix has released the first Shirkers trailer to take you on the journey that Tan makes to uncovering this alluring mystery.
Produced by Jessica Levin, Maya Rudolph, and Sandi Tan, and directed by Tan, Shirkers earned raves at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, where Tan won the World Cinema Documentary Directing Award. Shirkers unfolds partly like a mystery and partly like a snapshot of the burgeoning creator’s youth in a documentary that IndieWire says “has the handmade delicacy of a scrapbook come to life.”
But it’s more than just a mystery behind a missing film, it’s also an examination of the engima that is Georges Cardona, the American film instructor who first collaborated with Tan to make her slasher film — also called Shirkers — and suddenly vanished with the footage.
I’m not sure what to make of this documentary: Is it a mystery? Is it a portrait of the artist as a young woman, is it an interrogation of the twisted nature of a failed creative? Shirkers is as much a mystery as the man at the center of it — defying any type of categorization as a documentary. But maybe that’s exactly what makes it worth a watch on Netflix.
Here is the official synopsis for Shirkers:
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 premieres in limited theaters and on Netflix on October 26, 2018.
Cool Posts From Around the Web: