|Source: Raffles Hotel, Singapore. The Grand |
Lobby, Raffles Hotel, pre-renovation.
The film draws inspiration from the history of Raffles Hotel Singapore, with a focus on its close bond to the history of Singapore and its literary heritage. The film’s title comes from a poem of the same name, specially commissioned by the hotel and penned by writer-poet Amanda Lee Koe, Singapore’s youngest Literature Prize winner.
Tan has had works showcased at over 60 international film festivals. In 2017, she became the first Singaporean to have her debut feature film compete at the Sundance Film Festival; it subsequently won the Special Jury Award for Screenwriting. She was also honoured with the Young Artist Award by the National Arts Council, the highest accolade for artistic achievement for young art practitioners in Singapore.
We Were Built was conceptualised through Kirsten’s personal interactions which she experienced during her stay at Raffles Hotel Singapore. Tan said, “The moment I stepped in, its distinctive quality is inescapable: you feel like you've been transported to a different time altogether. Corinthian pillars, a tinkling piano, dark wood patios, a scented pillow. I wanted to capture that aura of lyrical timelessness, that sumptuous pause that counteracts the hectic fever of modern life.”
“Like many Singaporeans, I’ve felt special reverence for Raffles Hotel through the years: a magical oasis in the heart of Singapore. I've always been particularly moved by the proud literary history of the Raffles – it hosted and inspired world-famous writers from Somerset Maugham to Rudyard Kipling. This film is an ode to these writers, to time, to Raffles' exquisite affiliations with these great minds through the 130 years of its existence. Raffles Hotel is a landmark and a constant, quietly and proudly bearing witness to our shared histories and futures. It was imperative for me to illustrate how she stands silent, strong and storied – as elegant, eternal and essential as time itself,” said Tan. “We’re also deeply honoured to have legendary Chinese American movie star, Lisa Lu, who performed in acclaimed titles like The Last Emperor and The Joy Luck Club, make a special appearance in our film.”
Christian Westbeld, GM, Raffles Hotel Singapore, said, “The film perfectly captures the hotel’s storied history, and offers viewers a glimpse into what it means to be a guest at Raffles Hotel Singapore. We would like to invite the public to view this short film and accompany us, as we journey through time, and discover the story of how a national icon came to be. This story of Raffles Hotel Singapore continues to be told, while we anticipate the beginning of its next chapter, when the newly restored icon is unveiled later this year.”
Raffles Hotel Singapore is currently in its third and final phase of its restoration, which sees the full closure of the hotel before its planned reopening in 2H18. During the closure of the hotel, signature Raffles experiences will be showcased at 3 Seah Street, which remains open throughout the restoration.
Opened in 1887, Raffles Hotel Singapore is one of the few remaining great 19th century hotels in the world. Till today, its architecture is perfectly preserved both inside and out, giving it an intoxicating blend of luxury, history and classic colonial design. Within its walls are more than a hundred expansive suites, framed by polished teak verandas and white marble colonnades, clustered around lush tropical gardens. Each is serviced by the legendary Raffles butlers and offers every modern convenience necessary.
View the film