Finnish Antti Toivonen, who has been living in Singapore for the past 10 years, has co-written and produced the 2020 Singaporean black comedy art film ‘Tiong Bahru Social Club‘. Antti Toivonen is also known as the leader of the Finnish marketing communications agency Superson’s Singapore office.
In a video interview with yle.fn, Antti Toivonen talks about the similarities between Finland and Singapore and how he was able to write something that would appeal to the local people of Singapore.
Antti Toivonen left Finland over 10 years ago with the dream of working in a warmer climate and exploring other parts of the world. After sending out multiple applications to different parts of the world, he received a job offer from Singapore. Antti Toivonen had never been to Asia before but after a few phone calls, he was on his way. To this day he remains on the same patch in Singapore but his job description has changed and he is now leading the Superson’s office in Singapore.
Antti Toivonen explains that day-to-day life in the small urban state in Singapore has a lot in common with his old life in Finland. Population numbers are the same and people are similarly grounded in both countries. Both Finland and Singapore are small countries where people have to try a little harder to get noticed.
There is a noticeable difference between the Nordic and the Asian mindset however and Antti Toivonen explains that it is Finnish mentality not to think too highly about yourself. The culture is honest but boundaries are tested more in Finland than in Singapore. Singapore is known around the world for its strict rules and cleanliness. Singaporeans accept the rules and know it is not worth deviating from them. If they obey the rules, they are free to live as they please.
Antti Toivonen says that he dived straight into the Singaporean culture when he arrived in the country and he was welcomed. He says that understanding the Singaporean way of life and values is the reason he has been able to write something that appeals to local people.
The film ‘Tiong Bahru Social Club‘ tells the story of a simple man who accidentally becomes a happiness agent in an artificial intelligence cult community named Tiong Bahru Social Club, which aims to become the happiest neighborhood in town. The film is currently showing in cinemas in Singapore and is also set to have its world premiere at the 25th Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) in South Korea.
Read the full interview in Finnish here