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Return of the Jedi knights
HAS the recently released trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens left you with a yearning for the movie's release this December and no outlet for your fandom? Worry, you should not. Join like-minded people of all ages at Singapore's second fan-driven annual Star Wars Day, Celebrate the Force, which will be held at Suntec City's East Atrium this weekend.
Star Wars Day, popularly known as May the 4th - based on a pun of the franchise's famous phrase "May the Force be with you" - was conceptualised in 2011 in Toronto, Canada. The event has been embraced and commemorated by fans all around the world ever since.
Last year was Singapore's first such event and it took place at Jurong Regional Library. It included activities such as a fan fiction contest for children, and an art show featuring customised stormtrooper helmets which raised S$10,228 for the charitable organisation, Willing Hearts.
Kenny Lim, a participant at last year's event is returning to run a toy photography workshop on behalf of his online toy photography community, Wonder Factory, which has almost 18,000 members.
The 40-year-old says: "Star Wars events are fantastic because they bring not just fans together, but also generations. I attended Star Wars day last year with my six-year-old son, and he was so excited to show off his lightsaber and mock-duel other children. It was great to see little children who don't really know that franchise immerse themselves so completely into this universe."
Mr Lim's toy photography workshop will showcase around 30 photographs from eight different artists based all over the world. Mr Lim will introduce the hobby of toy photography to attendees and share behind-the-scenes details on what it took to create the images.
He adds: "One of the photographs on display is of Boba Fett, the Mandalorian bounty hunter looking like he's just crashed his ship in the middle of a sandstorm. It was taken by California-based Johnny Wu. It's one of those pictures where the timing is everything; there was a gust of wind that made the sand rise up in just the most perfect pattern."
Other activities at Celebrate the Force include appearances by members of the 501st and Rebel legions, international fan-based organisations who construct and wear screen-accurate replicas of the costumes of Star Wars' characters; and performances by Fightsaber, a lightsaber fight choreography team.
This year's highlight is a fashion parade for children, which will be held on Sunday. Jeffrey Koh, founder of local creative collective Flabslab and a co-organiser of the event says: "It was really heartening that parents had made an effort to buy costumes and dress their children up for the event last year, so we'd like to give them an opportunity to showcase their outfits this year. It's in the spirit of good fun so every participant will walk away with a goodie-bag."
Like last year, this year's event will also have a focus on giving back. There will be Darth Vader helmets available for sale, and for customisation on the premises. Ten helmets have already been customised, and will start at S$400, and there will be 30 blank helmets for artists to doodle on-the-spot for S$200 onwards. The artists from Band of Doodlers will also be drawing on mini-canvases, and the proceeds from the sales will go to this year's appointed charity, the Make-a-Wish Foundation Singapore.
The event organisers, Mr Koh, professional event planner Hansen Khoo, and musician Suhaimi Subandie, promise an even bigger celebration of the epic science-fiction franchise this year.
Mr Koh, 42, says: "Last year, we were expecting around 500 people, but around 3,000 showed up. This is after we received many complaints about the venue being too far away and inconvenient to get to. We're expecting a lot more people this year, considering it's a two-day event, and it'll be held in the heart of town."
The trio met more than 20 years ago, at a flea market on the Clarke Quay bridge, and bonded over their love of collecting toys. They've kept in touch over the years, and jumped at the opportunity to organise the fan-based event to promote their shared interests together.
Mr Koh explains: "We in the local community didn't understand why places like Bandung and Jakarta have these large-scale events, and Singapore didn't (so) we couldn't pass up the chance to rectify that."
A self-described geek, he adds he would love to follow this year's event with an even bigger one next year. "Organising the events can be stressful but ultimately, it's a good problem to have; our hope is to make it bigger and better every year," says Mr Koh. "Events like these give us fans an excuse to get away from the daily grind, and a chance to get to know like-minded people. I ran into people last year that I hadn't seen for the past 15 years!"
- Celebrate the Force will take place at the East Atrium, Suntec City at 11am to 9pm on May 2 and 11am to 7pm on May 3. Entry is free. For more details, check out #celebratetheforce on Facebook