Imagine you’re a teenager, and you spend months of your life working on a project that no one in your home country—in this case, Singapore—has achieved before. That was the case for Sandi Tan, who in the early ‘90s joined with two friends, Jasmine Ng and Sophie Siddique, to write, produce and shoot a feature-length indie film called Shirkers, which would have been Singapore’s first. The only problem? When the film was complete, all of the 16mm footage disappeared, stolen by the film’s American director, Georges Cardona. Tan spent the next two decades of her life wondering exactly what had happened to the work she put into Shirkers, which seemed to have disappeared off the face of the Earth, along with Georges.
Now, though, comes the unexpected second chapter of the Shirkers story, in a Netflix documentary of the same name. Directed, written and produced by Tan, this new Shirkers debuted at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, where Tan won the World Cinema Documentary Directing Award, before being picked up by Netflix for distribution. It tells the story of how the original Shirkers went wrong … and how, after more than two decades, the footage was apparently rediscovered in New Orleans. Tan, who eventually came to live as a novelist in Los Angeles, was thrust back into an older chapter of her life as she unravels the mysteries that surround the original Shirkers.
Check out the trailer for Shirkers below, which will more likely than not hook you into watching the full documentary when it hits Netflix on Oct. 26.