An escapist at heart, Kirsten Tan has always favoured what she calls “the fictive world”. Recalling a moment when she was still a Ngee Ann Polytechnic film student operating a boom on set, she says: “I saw how foolish but romantic the film-making process is — how we pause life to create film life and how it really takes the collective beliefs of so many people just to create a few intangible seconds on screen. There’s something about the colossal impossibility of film-making that moves me. It was clear to me then that all film-makers are dreamers of the highest degree.”
Now based in New York, Tan’s repertoire ranges from feature films, including Popeye (selected for Cannes Festival’s 2015 Cinefondation Atelier, a showcase of promising talents) to commercial works for clients such as Giorgio Armani and Heineken.
The award-winning film-maker often explores humanistic themes and off-beat humour in her works, which lures audiences to dwell on the notion of time and their own existence. “Going away from Singapore, I was exposed to a range of human existences and it made me realise that there’s no one truth and no absolute way to exist as long as one lives with dignity and grace. It has allowed me to see things more empathetically and has given me a chance to form a philosophy that’s uniquely mine — the backbone and core to all the stories I create,” Tan says.