Water Hands is a road movie about a Chinese sailor who starts doubting his beliefs after experiencing the beauty of the remote Balkan landscapes and the folk stories of the region. This seemingly tourist trip becomes a focal point of his personal transformation and the questioning of his daily reality. The more he explores the landscapes and the stories around him, the more he is determined to change something in his life. Although he doesn’t understand why all these events are taking place, he is firmly committed to his new direction.
His life-changing decisions are becoming even more difficult because of her. She, a mysterious and sultry creature, calls him back to his country, his life, and his reality. She transforms herself a number of times: from an office woman to a caring wife, or a cosplay character, all in order to lure him back.
These tensions culminate when he plays her a story told by a Balkan woman whom he recorded in a kitchen of a village inn. She can neither understand nor accept that a folk story can be more illuminating than anything the modern life offers.
The movie was born during my recent travels to various remote places in Serbia and Montenegro. Among the places visited, was the lake of Skadar, the location of the famous “The Founding of Skadar” Serbian folk poem which Jacob Grimm referred to as one of the most outstanding songs of all peoples and all times. During the same trip, in a bookstore in Belgrade, I came across Yukio Mishima’s “The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea”. Both of these literary masterpieces were to become the leitmotifs of the movie.
Upon hearing numerous folk stories from the region and comparing them to an everyday life of an expatriate in Singapore, I decided to make a movie capturing these polarities. Thus, one half of the movie focuses on the reality of common people living in the economically devastated Balkans, while the other half paints a quasi-bourgeois life of a foreigner in Singapore. In the movie, the main character speaks Cantonese, a Chinese dialect not officially recognized in China and Singapore. In contrast, his love interest speaks back to him in the standard Mandarin, with a Singaporean accent. Only in the moments when she begs him to return, she tries speaking to him in his mother tongue, Cantonese. She plays a role of a wife, girlfriend, mother, or a homeland, always calling and waiting for her sailors to return.
In Chinese, “Water Hands” stands for a sailor.
Format: HD 1080P, 1920X1080, HDCAM
Languages: Cantonese, Mandarin and Serbian
Duration: 93 minutes
Year of production: 2010
color: color and B&W
Countries of Production: Singapore, Serbia and Montenegro
Tadar Studio, 2010.
kids from the neighborhood
Goran Andrejin, Marko Skoric - locations and Ads
Allan Ng - make up
Tatjana Todorovic, Astrid Almkhlaafy - costume design
Mark Cenite - script copyedit
PerMagnus Lindborg - sound recording advisor
Rabin Sherchan - subtitles and editing assistant
Phyllicia Wang – graphic design
Roy Wang – editing assistant
Kwok Pan Fung - script translation, voice recording supervision
Camera operators - Tatjana Todorovic, Goran Andrejin, Vladimir Todorovic
Partially supported by: School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University