Private Project

Tia Gong

‘Ah Beng’ is a term typically used on Chinese males in Singapore who are loud, tattooed and seen as “hooligans”. Tia Gong, which means ‘hearsay’ in Hokkien, is an intimate yet light-hearted documentary that charts the stories of two young men who have been labelled as Ah Bengs since they were young: restaurant owner and chef Jason Chua from Beng Who Cooks, and student social worker Gary Lau from Happy Children Happy Future. They set out on their own individual journeys to seek deeper connections, question the boundaries set by society and ruminate about what the label means for them today.

  • Lee Jing Xin Enkainia
  • Lee Jing Xin Enkainia
  • Tiffany Lim Tien Yi
  • Justin Teo ZhongHeng
    Co-Producer/Assistant Director
  • Cornelius Tang Qin Xiang
    Director of Photography
  • Jason Chua
    Key Cast
  • Gary Lau
    Key Cast
  • Don Wong
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    15 minutes 12 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    March 25, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    3,760 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    Chinese - Min Nan, English, Mandarin Chinese
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information
Director Biography - Lee Jing Xin Enkainia

With a deep interest in performing arts and local culture, Enkainia Lee sees passion and performance as intrinsically interlinked—art imitates life, and life is a story that deserves to be told. With experience in advertising and a strong eye for visuals, the stories she tells come to life within the four corners of the frame.

Enkainia studied communication studies in Nanyang Technological University’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, where she wrote and directed this film for her final-year project. Having interned at Microsoft, Duo Studio and DDB Asia, Enkainia’s deftness in writing and keen eye for a good story shines through in her work. Her finger on the pulse of current affairs from being a social media manager at Oh Culture!, a Singaporean lifestyle publication, and shines through in her fresh and accurate perspective of Ah Bengs in the present Singapore society.

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Director Statement

The label of ‘Ah Beng’ is constantly evolving, from boisterous Facebook live bidding salesmen to maverick local business owners. Behind the label are stories that are covered in tattoos and rowdy behaviour.

Tia Gong means ‘hearsay’ in Hokkien, a term frequently used by Ah Bengs. It signifies that so much about an Ah Beng is usually hearsay and taken at face value, leaving little to no empathy extended to them. This often ends up in a vicious cycle which impedes opportunities in education and work, even causing some to turn to vices and a criminal life to make a name for themselves.

This documentary film follows two young men who grew up with these labels placed on them while they were schooling. Going through similar stages of rebellion and rejection, we see how they have reconciled or redeemed the label by their own terms. The two characters although similar in many areas, also see themselves at different places with different realisations.

Including visual elements that represent their past and current realities, we were careful to not oversimplify their experiences, but challenge our audience to understand the nuances of each emotion expressed. The hope for this piece is to address the entrenched stigma that lives inconspicuously within each of us—even within Ah Bengs themselves.