North American premiere
Camera Lucida On Demand

Tiong Bahru Social Club

Directed by Tan Bee Thiam

Virtual Screening


Official selection

Singapore International Film Festival 2020
Busan International Film Festival 2020
Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival 2021
Osaka Asian Film Festival 2021


Tan Bee Thiam


Tan Bee Thiam, Antti Toivonen


Munah Bagharib, Guat Kian Goh, Han Jalyn, Mochi, Noorlinah Mohamed, Thomas Pang


Huang Junxiang


Wan Ping Looi

Sound Designer

Akritchalerm Kalayanamitr


Ruben De Gheselle, Michaël Penson


Wan Ping Looi


Chong Jerrold, Lee Jiaying


13 Little Pictures

Singapore 2020 82 mins OV English/Mandarin Subtitles : English

Ah Been, age 30, still lives with his mother. Not settling for public housing yet feeling like it’s time to move out and start his own life, the young man signs up to be a “Happiness Agent” at the Tiong Bahru Social Club. An upstart, upscale housing estate, TBSC purports to use a patented algorithm, designed to enhance all aspects of their resident’s wellbeing and reduce stress. “The happiest neighbourhood in Singapore,” says the promotional material! And indeed, tasked with helping out his fellow neighbours increase their elusive happiness percentile, Ah Been is hard at work chasing happiness in an idyllic, resort-like estate – where he might even find love! But as things start going increasingly well for him, he soon starts feeling that something’s amiss in all this bliss…

A candy-coloured satire of our increasingly Instagram-friendly, algorithmic, indexed, controlled, surveilled – you-name-it – lives, TIONG BAHRU SOCIAL CLUB (a box-office success-story locally and festival darling abroad) unfolds in a style reminiscent of a Wes Anderson confection (THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL) or a Wisit Sasanatieng flight-of-whimsy (CITIZEN DOG). But under the veneer lies a deeply personal work, flipping utopia into dystopia, at once a striking critique of our hyper-competitive social environment, a takedown of surveillance capitalism, and a hard look at our contemporary culture of shallow performativity. TIONG BAHRU SOCIAL CLUB is as fun as it is resonant, hinting at what inner peace might look like if one manages to cut through the grind. - Ariel Esteban Cayer