• aastha gupta


Stills from the documentary “Shirkers.” Photo:Netflix

I watched Shirkers a few days back, a documentary by Singapore-born film critic, writer, and a filmmaker, Sandi Tan. At a very young age, she shot her first feature film whose recordings were stolen by her director, Georges Cardona. This film documents her personal journey on how this incident changed her life and how it inspired her to make the documentary “Shirkers”. The documentary consists of many interviews of the people who worked with her on the film project, her childhood photographs, about her friends, and clipping from her stolen film.

Stills from the documentary “Shirkers.” Photo:Netflix

There’s so much inspiration in this beautiful, heart-touching documentary. It makes me believe sometimes the only thing you got to do is believe in your instincts.

Spanning around 1 hour 36 minutes, there was a sense of sadness and hope that I felt watching it. I was hopeful for the young and dreaming kids who were on this journey of making a film, all by themselves. They were the kids who believed they could and so they did. I could sense a hope of victory for the kids as they were about to achieve something so unimaginable in this complex world made up of mysterious creatures known as humans. Sadness sinks in at the moment Sandi shares how her trusted guidance and the director of her film, Georges, never returned the film tapes, which he promised. I feel sad for the dejection Sandi faces by a person whom she trusted her life upon. At this moment, the only question that comes to the mind is, “why would he do that?”

Stills from the documentary “Shirkers.” Photo:Netflix

There is a loud noise of sadism and fatality in this documentary which makes us believe in the sentence that “All people are stories in the end, even if it’s a boring one there’s ought to be a story behind it.” Sandi Tan wanted to know which story did Georges belong to and so she sets on a journey to find out the reason behind his doing. As George is no longer alive, the only answers she could get was from Cardona’s wife and a few of his friends. Later on, we face a twisted, sad truth about his character that how he had done similar things with other people too. My heart sinks a little knowing this, as somewhere deep down I wanted to believe he’s not as sick as he sounds.

Over the course of the film, Gorges comes to me as a sick, sadistic being who didn’t know how to succeed so he made a loss in other people’s lives to make his life matter more. Maybe his aim was to be immortal in a way like this. He is the biggest mystery in Sandi’s life that will forever haunt her and the best she could do is live with it.

Stills from the documentary “Shirkers.” Photo:Netflix

Sandi’s documentary is about her most valuable experience, obviously not a pleasant one, but it didn’t stop her from being a part of film culture. There’s so much inspiration in this beautiful, heart-touching documentary. It makes me believe sometimes the only thing you got to do is believe in your instincts.

Here’s a quote by Sandi in the film where she says,

“I know I was doing things backward. First, I made a movie, then became a film critic and then I went to a film school. But that’s what happens when you no longer have a map ”

You don’t always need a roadmap or a guided path to follow. Sometimes, all you need is a simple word as belief. If you believe you can make a film, sure you can. Belief has become such a hollow word, with its true meaning losing the significance. It shouldn’t be so. Believe in yourself as it’s a way of moving forward or maybe backward if the journey suits you. What I mean is, it doesn’t matter whether you move backward or forward, unless you are moving towards your dreams, that’s all that matters.

Cheers to hope, belief, and so-called mysteries named as humans.

You can watch it on Netflix

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