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Shirkers Netflix – Review

The story of Shirkers begins well before the premiere, which takes place now through Netflix (watch here). It started in 1992 when a group of dreamy people decided to make a movie in Singapore. It was an experimental production, a road movie typical of those who are starting their film career. Everything seemed to unfold very well, until the movie, after finalizing the filming, was stolen by its director, producer and main financier.

The search for the work after so much time is what moves this documentary. So make no mistake: the focus here is not on that movie itself, but on the story of how it was stolen, about who stole it and why he did it. Shirkers is one of this month’s premier releases in the Netflix catalog because it makes us believe that a seemingly harmless documentary is filled with mystery and tension.

Surreal saga

Sandi Tam, the writer, producer and principal actress of the 1992 film, never stopped thinking about what happened to her missing piece. At that time, she and her friends Sophie and Jasmine had all the production work of this short-film, and they had the dream of finally entering an artistic career. For this, they had the help of a mysterious American named Georges Cardona, who became the mentor of the group, main financier and finally, director of the film. It was he who disappeared along with the filming, when they were over, frustrating everyone involved.

Many years later, we accompany Tam in search of Shirkers and Cardona, in a saga that borders the surreal. Film reels are found on the other side of the world, more specifically in New Orleans, forcing the writer / producer to go to her unfinished past – which in this case is the feature she wrote and acted on. The story of Shirkers was amateur, an obvious beginners’ attempt to sound intelligent and “cult”. The saga of the lost movie and how its creator deals with it is much more interesting.

No wonder that the film won the award for Best Direction of documentaries at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. The soundtrack is very well written and the editing is agile, blending scenes from the past with interviews with everyone involved, as well as interspersing scenes from Sandi Tam’s quest for her much-loved opening film. As a young woman, she had given up on the film industry and entered the literature – but the discovery of 16mm rolls of Shirkers changed something in her mind.

A mysterious man

One of the great narrative lines of Shirkers is the quest for the mysterious Georges Cardona, a man whose past was a complete mystery in 1992. No one even knew his age. He is a truly intriguing character who stirs up curiosity in the viewer to know why he ran away with Tam’s film and why he appeared in the United States after more than 20 years of disappearance. We, as spectators, accompany Tam’s movement to rescue the work and understand all this, and in this sense we are accomplices: we understand what happened together with her.

In the end, Shirkers is a documentary about stolen dreams, and how life draws different goals when it discourages us to go on. However, we always keep our old desires in our souls, which are always lurking, awaiting an opportunity to come to the surface.­­­­

Trailer and additional information about Shirkers Netflix

Synopsis 1: Strange. Beautiful. Elusive. A world-be classic shot by inspired misfit girls. A dream stolen by a trusted older men.

Synopsis 2: In 1992, Sandi Tan and her friends shot a quirky film on the streets of Singapore. Then the footage disappeared, sending her on a hunt for answers.

Release year: 2018


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