Singapore International Film Festival Announces Winners of the 2020 Silver Screen Awards

Singapore, 6 December 2020 – The 31st Singapore International Film Festival announced today the winners of its 2020 Silver Screen Awards, recognising the best in film production across the region.

This year saw a total of 11 awards presented across four categories, including the Asian Feature Film Competition and Southeast Asian Short Film Competition. The ceremony was held virtually on 5th of December.

Asian Feature Film Competition Results

TitleWinner
Best FilmMilestone (मील पत्थर)
India
Best DirectorDea Kulumbegashvili for Beginning (დასაწყისი)
Georgia, France
Best PerformanceSuvinder Vicky for Milestone

Southeast Asian Short Film Competition Results

TitleWinner
Best Southeast Asian Short FilmTellurian Drama 
Indonesia
Director: Riar Rizaldi
Best DirectorLin Htet Aung for Estate
Myanmar
Best Singapore Short FilmHere is Not There (这里不是那里)
Director: Nelson Yeo
Youth Jury PrizeThe Unseen River (Giòng Sông Không Nhìn Thấy)
Vietnam, Laos
Director: Phạm Ngọc Lân 
Special MentionRed Aninsri; Or, Tiptoeing on the Still Trembling Berlin Wall (อนินทรีย์แดง)
Thailand
Director: Ratchapoom Boonbunchachoke

Southeast Asian Film Lab

TitleWinner
Most Promising ProjectBaby Jackfruit Baby Guava by Nong Nhat Quang
Vietnam
Fellowship PrizeTropical Rain, Death-Scented Kiss by Charlotte Hong Bee Her
Singapore

Youth Jury & Critics Programme Results

TitleWinner
Young Critic AwardNicole Wong Kar Mun

Asian Feature Film Competition

The winners of the Asian Feature Film Competition were decided by filmmakers – João Pedro Rodrigues, Mary Stephen, Mouly Surya and John Torres.

Milestone, a film by director Ivan Ayr was conferred the award for Best Film under the Asian Feature Film Competition category. The film tells the story of Ghalib, a Punjabi trucker in New Delhi as he finds his life stalled by a workers’ strike, the loss of his wife, and an inexplicable pain in his back. Ivan Ayr’s film is a sobering portrait of a man who – even as he confronts his own disposability – insists on preserving his dignity. The Jury found the film to be a great humanist story, that is confident and nuanced, with a strong script and engaging direction. The Jury added “The film’s strength is in how it draws the audience into its story with scenes that are complex and well executed.”

Taking home the award for Best Director was Dea Kulumbegashvili whose film, Beginning, examined the extreme isolation of a woman’s suffering that is quiet, though no less acute. The Jury described the film as a beautifully crafted piece that demonstrates an exceptionally strong voice from a debut director. “Dea Kulumbegashvili’s directing capabilities convinced right from the very start. Her work shows a powerful, decisive approach towards filmmaking,” shared the Jury.

The Best Performance award went to Suvinder Vicky for his role as Ghalib in Milestone. The Jury described his performance as “delicately understated and quiet, yet with a power that carries viewers through the film. It was full of emotion but held together with a beautifully restrained quality.”

Southeast Asian Short Film Competition

This year, the judges for this category consisted of multidisciplinary artist Ho Tzu Nyen, filmmaker Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit and academic Wang Chun-Chi.

Under the Southeast Asian Short Film Competition, Tellurian Drama, directed by Riar Rizaldi was awarded the Best Southeast Asian Short Film. The film – a docufiction – investigates alternative Indonesian histories through a rumination of colonial ruins, the role of technology, and the invisible power of indigenous ancestry. Jurors described Tellurian Drama as a film that interestingly mixes different filmmaking skills and has a tint of epic grandeur. It explores the complexity of the colonial past that all who share the history of colonialism can relate and reminds us of reviving the value of what is forgotten and obsolete.

The Best Director award was presented to Lin Htet Aung, for his short Estate, which explored a story of a son looking after his dying father. The Jury awarded the film for its uncompromising originality and profound beauty brought through such a masterpiece.

Taking home the Best Singapore Short Film award was director Nelson Yeo, whose film, Here is Not There tells the story of two lovers who reflect on the transitory lives they lead in Singapore. The Jury praised the ambition of the film, describing it as inspiring and addressing the important issues of migrant workers, exploitation, work-related injury and discrimination against pregnant women at work. “These are concerns not only for Singaporean society, but all societies affected by globalisation”, the Jury added.

This year the Jury decided to give Special Mention to Red Aninsri; Or, Tiptoeing on the Still Trembling Berlin Wall by Ratchapoom Boonbunchachoke. The jury felt its unique and outstanding merits could not be ignored.

The Youth Jury Prize was awarded to The Unseen River by director Phạm Ngọc Lân. The Jury lauded the film as mesmerising, beautiful and affecting, standing out for its atmospheric and narrative qualities. “Its poetic disposition and immersive engagement support its meditative exploration of spaces both metaphorical and literal”, the Youth Jury added.

Southeast Asian Film Lab

The Southeast Asian Film Lab provides a nurturing and collaborative space for  filmmakers who are embarking on their first feature- length film project. During the Film Lab this year, filmmakers received personal feedback from three mentors – Shozo Ichiyama, the head mentor, with Nandita Solomon and Mai Meksawan. The programme ended with the filmmakers pitching to a panel of industry experts who awarded the Most Promising Project and Fellowship Prize.

Nong Nhat Quang from Vietnam took home the Most Promising Project award for the film Baby Jackfruit Baby Guava, while Charlotte Hong Bee Her from Singapore, director for Tropical Rain, Death-Scented Kiss was conferred the Fellowship Prize. 

Young Critic Award from Youth Jury & Critics Programme

The Youth Jury & Critics Programme aims to nurture new film critics who can contribute to Southeast Asian film culture and discourse. This programme provides the opportunity for mentorship in the art of film criticism, while invited speakers also enrich the learning experience by sharing about different types of critics, their role in film culture and what it is like to have a career as a film critic. This year, Chris Fujiwara, the mentor for the programme, based his choice on four criteria: the quality of evaluation; a critic’s point-of-view; the ability to connect a film to broader social issues; and an appreciation of cinematic aesthetics. Accordingly, the critic who he felt best combined all of those attributes was Nicole Wong Kar Mun, who was awarded with the Young Critic Award.

Audience Choice Award

The much-anticipated Audience Choice Award was awarded to Sementara by Chew Chia Shao Min and Joant Úbeda, marking the second time a local film has received this Award. The film features casual interviews with people from different walks of life, each with their own set of values and beliefs. The subjects share deeply personal stories and their perspectives on issues such as religion, race, identity, and mortality. Unhurried interviews are interspersed with highly recognisable local scenes, and at times punctuated with serendipitous poetic moments.

Executive Director of the SGIFF, Emily J Hoe, said, “The Singapore International Film Festival’s Silver Screen Awards are a great testament of the amazing works of filmmakers in Singapore, Asia and the rest of the world. In addition, the programme has a significant role in opening up greater opportunities for the growing talent in this region. Especially this year, the ability to celebrate the local and regional film community makes us incredibly grateful to all who have given their time and support under most difficult circumstances. Congratulations to all award winners this year, and we look forward to uncovering more cinematic gems in the years to come.”

The winners of Best Asian Feature Film, Best Southeast Asian Short Film and Best Singapore Short film will be re-screened on 6th December together with the Audience Choice Award winner to mark the finale of 31st Singapore International Film Festival.

For more information, please visit the SGIFF website at www.sgiff.com

Please refer to Annex A for the quotes from the winners.

For Media Enquiries, please contact:

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About the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF)

Founded in 1987, the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) is the largest and longest-running film event in Singapore. It has become an iconic event in the local arts calendar that is widely attended by international film critics; and known for its dynamic programming and focus on ground-breaking Asian cinema for Singapore and the region. Committed to nurturing and championing local and regional talent, its competition component, the Silver Screen Awards, brings together emerging filmmakers from Asia and Southeast Asia while paying tribute to acclaimed cinema legends. With its mentorship programmes, masterclasses and dialogues with attending filmmakers, the Festival also serves as a catalyst for igniting public interest, artistic dialogue, and cultural exchanges in the art of filmmaking. The SGIFF is organised by the Singapore International Film Festival Ltd, a non-profit organisation with Institution of a Public Character (IPC) status. For more information, please visit https://www.facebook.com/sginternationalfilmfestival/

Annex A: Quotes from the Winners

Ivan Ayr

Director of Milestone, Best Film, Asian Feature Film Competition

We shot Milestone in January this year, and as we neared the completion of the shoot, which extended into the early part of February, we had begun to notice the news stories about the coronavirus. I honestly could never imagine anything like a lockdown in my wildest dreams (I’m clearly not cut out to write science fiction or dystopian stories), but soon enough I found myself editing the film alone, staring at uncertainty and fighting anxiety attacks.

Some relief came when the film got an official invitation from the Venice Film Festival, and an invitation from SGIFF followed soon after. Film Festivals like SGIFF are beacons of hope for filmmakers as they recognize and reward those who dare to take risks in their storytelling, and that is what takes cinema forward. I believe film festivals are more important than ever in these times, as humanity, now separated by border closures, needs to understand our lives are much more closely connected than we had imagined, and what better way to learn about each other than through stories. Festivals offer the local audiences a chance to become global audiences

Suvinder Vicky

Best Performance, Asian Feature Film Competition

I would like to thank Singapore International Film Festival for promoting good cinema throughout Southeast Asia and for giving a bright ray of hope in these bleak days of the pandemic.

The film Milestone has truly turned out to be a real milestone in my journey as an actor. During the making of the film, I felt that the director Ivan Ayr was actually painting the canvases with his master strokes on the camera. And within the parameters of the camera, I became Ghalib from Suvinder. I lived his pain and agony throughout. This film has given me wings to fly with my craft. And with this award you have actually accredited my hard work.

From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank the Jury members of this esteemed SGIFF for acknowledging my work so impartially. I would also like to thank my director Ivan Ayr, my producer Kimsi Singh and the entire cast and crew members of Milestone to bring out such a beautiful work of art. And last but not the least, I would like to thank the Lord, Almighty to have blessed me with this reward.

Nelson Yeo

Director of Here is Not There, Best Singapore Short Film, Southeast Asian Short Film Competition

This is my 3rd year participating in SGIFF, so I guess the third time’s the charm! I think I really grew with the festival over the years. Thank you for giving us filmmakers a screen to show our films even in this crazy time. And of course knowing that there is an audience out there watching the films we make, this keeps us going.

This pandemic really forces us to rethink our priorities. For better or for worse, my priority remains the same. No matter how good or bad the times are, I believe that there are stories worth telling and for us, films worth making.

Lastly, I like to thank the cast and crew for their patience! And of course, my parents and my wife for the support!

Riar Rizaldi

Director of Tellurian Drama, Best Southeast Asian Short Film, Southeast Asian Short Film Competition

Thank you so much SGIFF! I’m sure this year has been a really tough one for everyone. The final shooting process of Tellurian Drama was done exactly a week before Indonesia under lockdown in March. All the post-production process was done at the time of lockdown period. Isolated – it was a rather bleak process. Furthermore, this project was in limbo for some time. However, I am now totally glad that it finds its home at SGIFF, interacting with many audiences both offline and online in the festival.

As a festival, SGIFF is always pivotal in nurturing the film community in SEA. Amidst the unpredictable nature of pandemic, SGIFF still at its best provides a space for everyone to interact, discuss, and engage in knowledge production that we urgently needed in this time of uncertainty. Cheers to all SEA cinematic mavericks out there! Keep inspiring, SGIFF!

Phạm Ngọc Lân  

Director of The Unseen River, Youth Jury Prize, Southeast Asian Short Film Competition

I’m glad and grateful for the Singapore International Film Festival and the individuals who have awarded me the Youth Jury Award for The Unseen River, a part of our Mekong 2030 short film collection.

In this challenging time that the cinema industry has to face, I understand more and am touched by the importance, vision, and the transnational connective power of your festival. I am similarly impressed by your efforts in promoting cinema and improving the regional art scene.

Nicole Wong Kar Mun

Executive, Checkpoint Theatre
Young Critic Award, Youth Jury & Critics Programme

On the Youth Jury Programme
To me, SGIFF’s Youth Jury & Critics Programme was a space of deep and much-needed warmth. In these times, spaces to gather in and learn from new people are few and far between. I am incredibly grateful to have had the privilege to spend the last few weeks with such a kind, generous, and insightful cohort in communion over film. Uplifted by each other, we grew in our practice and in our love for cinema.

On SGIFF
The films that SGIFF brings are ones that beckon their audiences closer. They tug us together through the force of their storytelling, the urgency of their voice, and the nuance in their filmmaking. With SGIFF’s dedication to independent Southeast Asian films, the festival has been crucial in widening and invigorating cultural consumption in the region. SGIFF prompts us to look beyond the narratives that we so often see, to challenge notions of whose and what stories get to be told, and to embark on this journey with a community united by a belief in the transformative power of film.