Director: Royston Tan
Screenwriters: Royston Tan

Institute History

  • 2004 Sundance Film Festival


A hyperkinetic, mind-bending foray into the world of adolescent boys, 15 mixes documentary realism, dream sequences, rapid montages, and other stylistic flurries to unleash a hard-hitting cinematic assault on Singaporean oppression and teen angst. Royston Tan employs public-housing kids rather than professional actors, allowing the drama of the kids' real lives to lay the groundwork for a raw and harrowing film that pulls no punches.

15 eschews a linear narrative in favor of a dizzying collage of moving images as it follows a group of delinquent boys through their daily odysseys of cutting class, fighting, taking and smuggling drugs, watching porn, and contemplating suicide. Though they seemingly live in a world devoid of adults, they clearly feel the inherent pressures of the strict Singaporean society. For all of the bravado the boys hope to embody, they are ultimately revealed as something else—fragile young kids with no one to turn to but each other.

Tan ingeniously incorporates the bubblegum aesthetics of video games and music videos to detail the gut-wrenching sadness of the boys' existence, displaying visionary control of the chaos he orchestrates. Already an accomplished short-film director, Tan's first feature fulfills his vast potential and marks the emergence of an exhilarating new talent.

— Trevor Groth

Screening Details

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