Flooding In The Time Of Drought


Malaysia, Singapore | 2009 | 184 min | Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Tagalog, Mandarin, German Japanese, Korean, Thai, Malay, Hokkien | English subtitles | HDV

  • Asian Digital Competition, Hong Kong International Film Festival 2009 (World Premiere)
  • International Film Festival Rotterdam 2010 (European Premiere)
  • Competition, Cinema Digital Seoul Film Festival 2009

Also titled Banjir Kemarau

“Decades from now, these movies are going to serve as some of the most authentic cinematic documents of how we actually lived in Singapore in the early 21st century. I’m impressed.” – Ng Yi-Sheng (Poet, playwright and winner of the Singapore Literature Prize 2008.)

Flooding In The Time Of Drought chases us into a dead-end suspense that is the dreamed up nightmare of Singapore.” – Adele Tan, ARTicle


What if Singapore’s water supply suddenly runs dry?

This docu-narrative fusion depicts the lives of foreign immigrants as they face an impending water crisis. Amidst this drought, a cast of non-professional actors grapple with their foibles, fantasies, and broken romances.

Touching on issues as diverse as ethnic discrimination, ritual beliefs, World War II, and racial tensions in post-’97 riots Indonesia, the film explores how ingrained problems are transported along with migrant communities.

“A full-length feature with many documentary elements follows eight immigrant couples in Singapore who play scenes from their lives, often shot in their small dwellings. These immigrants are the basis of Singapore’s success, but get the hardest knocks when things go wrong. A film with an unusual length and an unusual form. It’s twice as long as a normal feature and made in two parts. It’s not a documentary, but has many elements of one. The film follows eight couples of immigrants in today’s Singapore. In this way, a lot is made clear about the political and social situation of Singapore, of which the flourishing economy is largely dependent on guest workers. Instead of interviewing the immigrants, the film maker has them play scenes from their own lives. A fiction film, but much more realistic than usual. Another fictional element in the film is the introduction of a water crisis in Singapore. It’s the immigrants who have most problems with this. For a large part, the film is set in the small dwellings where the various immigrant couples live. And also in other regards, the film maker works down to the square centimetre.” – Gertjan Zulhoif, Rotterdam

Technical Specifications

Country of production: Singapore, Malaysia

Running length: 184 minutes (in two parts) / COLOR

Year of production: 2009

Language: Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Tagalog, Mandarin, German, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Malay, Hokkien

Subtitles: English

Original Format: HD

Screening Format: HDCAM or Digibeta PAL

Aspect Ratio: 1:1.85

Sound: Stereo

Website: http://floodinginthetimeofdrought.blogspot.com


Director/Writer: Sherman Ong

Producer: Sunny Yong

Co-producer: Tan Bee Thiam

Cinematographer: Sharon Loh

Sound: Kent Chan

Editor: Ming An

Assistant Director: Swee Wee Keong

Art Director: Chin Kean Kok, Looi Wan Ping

Post-production Sound: Takuya Katsu

Online Editor: Fabian Tan

Camera Assistant: Looi Wan Ping

Set Photographer/Color Supervisor: Han Tan

Music: Indra Perkasa, Arief Yudhanto

Singing: Zheng Mentian

Colorist: Max Chia

Publicity Designer: Catherine Chia


DROUGHT – Agnes Christina, Nathan Boenjamin, Richel T Hidalgo, Consulta Gian Carlo, Teresa Cua, Gayatri Devi Mishra, Sanjay Gautam, Giovanni Lombardo, Sofia Lombardo

FLOOD – Xiao Jing, Pacheun Maleipan, Zheng Mengtian, Sean Lee, Shawn Kiyotaka Fukuzaki, Shin Hye Jung, Kim Yeon Jung, Rattanan Channoi, Wazini Masmintrachaiyanara

Previous Screenings


International Film Festival Rotterdam (European Premiere)

Centre Pompidou Cinématheque, Paris

Barcelona Asian Film Festival

National University of Singapore Arts Festival


Hong Kong International Film Festival (In Competition: Asian Digital Competition)

Cinema Digital Seoul, Korea (In Competition: International Competition)

World Film Festival Bangkok, Thailand

Cinemanila International Film Festival, Philippines

Osian’s Cinefan, New Delhi, India

Q! Film Festival Jakarta, Indonesia

Contemporary Art Centre Vilnius, Lithuania

South Australia Contemporary Art Centre, Australia

Press and International Distribution / Sales Contact


Director’s Biography

SHERMAN ONG is a filmmaker, photographer, visual artist and educator. Straddling fiction and documentary, his films have won awards in Hong Kong, Greece, Italy, Indonesia and Malaysia. He is an alumnus of the 1st Berlinale Talent Campus 2003 and has exhibited works at Rotterdam International Film Festival, International Documentary Festival Amsterdam, Institute of Contemporary Arts London, International Electronic Art Festival VideoBrasil, the Mori Art Museum Tokyo, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, and the Martin-Gropius-Bau Berlin, among others. In 2009, he participated in Visual Arts exhibitions in Jakarta, Lithuania and Australia and will be making a new work for the Singapore Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.



  • Selected for the Asian Digital Competition, Hong Kong International Film Festival (2009) (World Premiere)

HASHI (2008)

  • Nominated for Best Screenplay at the Singapore Film Awards, Singapore International Film Festival (2009)
  • Official selection: Rotterdam International Film Festival (2009), Singapore International Film Festival (2008)

EXODUS – WANITA YANG BERLARI (2003) (Short film)

  • Special Jury Prize, 10th Hong Kong Independent Film and Video Awards 2005
  • Best Experimental Film, 6th International Panorama of Independent Filmmakers Greece 2004
  • Special Jury Prize, Malaysian Video Awards 2004
  • Runner’s Up Audience Award, Q Film Festival Jakarta, Indonesia 2003

THE GROUND I STAND (2002) (Short film)

  • Best Documentary, 7th Malaysian Video Awards 2003



5 Responses

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  1. […] will make their world premieres and compete at the Hong Kong International Film Festival 2009: Flooding In The Time Of Drought by Sherman Ong and White Days by Lei Yuan […]

  2. […] its world premiere in Hong Kong International Film Festival’s Asian Digital Competition, Flooding In The Time Of Drought will compete next at Korea’s 3rd Cinema Digital Seoul Film Festival (CinDi) helmed by Park Ki […]

  3. 2009 « 13 LITTLE PICTURES said, on December 14, 2009 at 3:22 am

    […] 2009 It’s been a great year for 13 Little Pictures. We’ve premiered 3 feature films (Flooding In The Time Of Drought, White Days and In The House Of Straw) in festivals in Hong Kong, Singapore, Seoul, Bangkok, New […]

  4. […] Of these, 4 works were from the 13 Little Pictures, including the only 2 feature films selected: Flooding in the Time of Drought and Memories of a Burning Tree by Sherman Ong. How he managed to make 2 feature films (and a […]

  5. […] Flooding In The Time Of Drought by Sherman Ong (PG) Malaysia, Singapore | 2009 | 184 min | Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Tagalog, Mandarin, German Japanese, Korean, Thai, Malay, Hokkien | English subtitles […]

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