Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

A Cannes do spirit

SINGAPORE — Singaporean film-maker Anthony Chen’s debut feature film, Ilo Ilo, made its world premiere at the Directors’ Fortnight at the 66th Cannes Film Festival to a packed out crowd, and drew a 15-minute standing ovation. This is considered a real coup for Singapore film, especially since Ilo Ilo’s premiere was halted three times.

Ilo Ilo stars Chen Tianwen and Yeo Yann Yann with director Anthony Chen (far right).

Ilo Ilo stars Chen Tianwen and Yeo Yann Yann with director Anthony Chen (far right).

SINGAPORE — Singaporean film-maker Anthony Chen’s debut feature film, Ilo Ilo, made its world premiere at the Directors’ Fortnight at the 66th Cannes Film Festival to a packed out crowd, and drew a 15-minute standing ovation. This is considered a real coup for Singapore film, especially since Ilo Ilo’s premiere was halted three times.

“When the film stopped, it was in the middle of the birthday scene with the characters singing Happy Birthday,” he said. “Yet the audience continued to sing Happy Birthday and it showed how invested they were in the film. No one walked out and we had a standing ovation at the end. I was so moved that both the audience and actors teared up, because it showed me they understood the film.”

Singaporean film-maker Jasmine Ng, who was at the premiere said: “It was a crazy day! There was a power outage and the film stopped. Then, the English subtitles disappeared. After that was fixed, the French subtitles went on the blink ... yet the audience stayed through it all.”

According to Ilo Ilo’s producer Yuni Hadi, the Director’s Fortnight organisers had to ask people to stop the standing ovation because they had to prepare for the next screening.

A film that explores the relationship between a young boy and his maid set in Singapore during the 1997 Asian financial crisis, Ilo Ilo was made with the support of the Singapore Film Commission (SFC) and Ngee Ann Polytechnic. The movie stars Malaysian actress Yeo Yann Yann, television veteran Chen Tianwen and award-winning Filipino actress Angeli Bayani, all of whom were praised for their performances in Screen Daily’s review of the film.

This is not the first time Chen has done Singapore proud on the Croisette. The recipient of the SFC’s New Feature Film Fund in 2011 was previous nominated for the Palme d’Or for Short Film at the 60th Cannes Film Festival. He was also awarded a Special Mention for his short film, Ah Ma, a first for a Singaporean film-maker. Although this is Chen’s third showing in Cannes, Ilo Ilo is his first feature film, and thus, is in the running for the coveted Caméra d’Or Award (for the best first feature film in the Official Selection (Competition or Un Certain Regard), the Directors’ Fortnight or International Critics’ Week). The winner will be announced on May 26.

Said Yeo Chun Cheng, Director, Singapore Film Commission: “The selection of Ilo Ilo for the 45th Director’s Fortnight is another outstanding achievement for Anthony Chen and marks the fitting return for Singapore films to the prestigious Cannes film circuit. This shows that our films can make inroads internationally with good storytelling. I hope our local talent can continue to gain the support of audiences at home and abroad, and that Singaporeans can be proud of the achievements of our homegrown film-makers.”

But perhaps Ng summed it up the best. “It’s as good as it gets for a small film in Cannes”.

Related topics

ilo ilo

Read more of the latest in

Advertisement

Popular

Advertisement

Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.