Female Filmmaker Friday: Sandi Tan, Debut Film Sets to Solve Past Mystery

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"I've made a film about the greatest mystery of my life."

Sandi Tan is a Singaporean-American director, writer, and film critic.

While in Singapore, Tan wrote and published at the age of sixteen. She became a film critic for Singapore’s largest newspaper, The Straits Times. With ambitions to be a filmmaker at a young age, Tan filmed Strikers with her friends and an American mentor. This film would continue to haunt Tan for years to come.

After moving to America, Tan attended film school at Columbia University. Her short films Movable Feast and Gourmet Baby have been shown in over a hundred film festivals worldwide. In 2012, Tan published her first novel, The Black Isle.

In 2018, Tan was able to showcase her directorial debut at Sundance Film Festival, Shirkers. The story behind the film is a mystery going back to Tan’s teenager years when she and her friends, along with their American mentor, Georges Cardona, filmed an indie film in Singapore. However, when they had wrapped, Cardona disappeared, along with the film. It has taken Tan almost twenty years to regain this footage through Cardona’s widow. The documentary film now shows scenes from the original film alongside Tan’s quest to find answers into this real-life mystery. It won the Directing Award: World Documentary at Sundance.

Here's a step into this extraordinary journey in finding and making Shirkers: