- A Land Imagined by Singaporean director, Yeo Siew Hua awarded Best Film in the Asian Feature Film Competition, a historic first ever Singapore feature film to win in the category
- A Million Years by Cambodian filmmaker, Danech San presented with the Best Southeast Asian Short Film Award
Singapore, 8 December 2018 – The 29th Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) hosted an evening of celebration in honour of Asia’s best in film at the Silver Screen Awards at the historic Capitol Theatre this evening.
A total of 14 awards were presented at the grand ceremony this year, including the highly coveted Best Film Award in the Asian Feature Film Competition, and Best Southeast Asian Short Film Award in the Southeast Asian Short Film Competition; alongside seven other awards across the two competitions.
The evening also saw the presentation of the Festival’s highest honour, the Honorary Award and the Cinema Legend Award; as well as the Inspiring Woman in Film Award presented by Swarovski to luminaries of Asian cinema.
Asian Feature Film Competition
A Land Imagined by Singaporean director, Yeo Siew Hua was awarded the Best Film in the Asian Feature Film Competition, unanimously selected by the panel of jury from a total of eight nominated feature films from across Asia. It also made history as the first-ever Singapore film to win in this category at the Silver Screen Awards. The Mandarin thriller is Yeo’s sophomore feature that tells the tale about the disappearance of a migrant Chinese construction worker at a Singapore land reclamation site. The jury found the film “combined clear and original vision, strong storytelling, and technical achievement in addressing an increasingly important issue not only to Singapore but to the world”.
The honour of Best Director went to Pham Thu Hang for her feature documentary The Future Cries Beneath Our Soil, a moving documentary that deftly captures the dark shadow of war and death, present in even everyday conversation and simple gestures, set in Vietnam’s Quảng Tri province. The film is “exceptional in its vision and it welcomes audiences into a world so intimately, while blurring the lines between genres and challenges the language of cinema”.
Manoranjoan Das took home the prize for Best Performance for his role of Suman in Bulbul Can Sing by Rima Das. The jury commended on his performance “for the courage and vulnerability he infused into his character. Suman was brought to life with a subtlety and an innocence that moved the entire jury”.
Dayan by Iranian director Behrouz Nooranipour, a compelling drama which delve into the horrors of ISIS operations in Iranian Kurdistan, was accorded Special Mention at the awards this evening. The jury found the film “immerses audiences into the horrors of one of most significant humanitarian crises in the world today; and under unusually arduous circumstances, the director takes the audience on a journey of courage and authenticity”.
The winners of the Asian Feature Film Competition were decided by a panel of five jury members, headed by leading figure of the Hong Kong New Wave, director Stanley Kwan. Joining him on the panel of jury are Hollywood actor, director, and producer, Daniel Dae Kim; legendary Japanese cinematographer, Akiko Ashizawa; acclaimed Canadian film producer, Sylvain Corbeil; and Vietnamese-born French actress, costume, and production designer, Trần Nữ Yên Khê.
Winner of Best Film A Land Imagined will be screened again at National Museum of Singapore as the 29th SGIFF celebrates the close of the Festival tomorrow, alongside the winning film from the Audience Choice Award which will be announced tomorrow.
Southeast Asian Short Film Competition
The Best Southeast Asian Short Film award from the Southeast Asian Short Film Competition this year went to A Million Years by first-time director Danech San, which illustrates the story of a young woman who enters a parallel riverfront with a stranger, and both recounting stories of fear. The director, “in a formalistic style of directing, deftly touches upon several deep questions of contemporary reality, bound together by an elegant cinematic signature”.
Aditya Ahmad was awarded Best Director for his short film Kado (A Gift), which the jury deemed as “a sincere, deeply-felt film that does not provide easy answers but reveals the complexities of gender identity in Muslim communities”. The film was also awarded the Youth Jury Prize through the collective 15-member jury panel in the Youth Jury & Critics Programme, an initiative by SGIFF to provide mentorship and a developmental platform, as well as a voice to a new generation of young writers on cinema from the region. Kado is a portrait of a child caught at the crossroads of adolescence. Poignantly moving, the film offers a raw and unflinching look into a painful coming-of age search for identity. Kado’s quiet depth is its voice, fragility its strength, and resilience its spark of hope for all of us in time to come.
Back at the home front, Luzon by Chiang Wei Liang, a flawlessly directed tale of two fishermen, one radioactive barrel, and the South China Sea, was awarded Best Singapore Short Film. The jury shared that the film “is a simple allegory that absurdly and succinctly highlights the sociopolitical tensions of the region”.
Thai director Korakrit Arunanondchai’s short film With History In A Room Filled With People With Funny Names 4 was given the Special Mention by jury; who regarded it an essayistic approach by fine artist Arunanondchai that playfully tackles memory and loss with poetry, humour, and intellectual rigour.
The Southeast Asian Short Film Competition jury panel this year was headed by Maike Mia Höhne, curator of the Berlinale Shorts programme since 2007 in an all-women team, a nod to the progressive development in Asian cinema, and the celebration of diversity in filmmaking. Joining her on the panel were Filipino filmmaker Shireen Seno and Singapore filmmaker Kirsten Tan.
Honouring Asian Cinematic Legends
The 29th SGIFF presented the Festival’s highest honour, the Honorary Award to one of the most internationally acclaimed Cambodian filmmakers of today, Rithy Panh. The award was presented by Sebastian Tan, Chairperson, SGIFF, and Pimpaka Towira, Programme Director, SGIFF; in recognition of his prolific cinematic works across both documentary and fiction genres which have made exceptional and enduring contributions to Asian cinema, as well as his dedication towards preserving Cambodia’s film, photographic, and audio history through his cinematic and social projects over the past three decades.
One of cinema’s most respected Asian stars, luminary actor, Joan Chen was presented with the Cinema Legend Award for her dedication to the entertainment industry, and her inspiring contribution to cinema. With more than 40 film and television roles that straddle both the commercial and independent arenas, Chen’s alluring screen presence continues to dazzle critics and audiences worldwide; she has also developed a career behind the camera as a director, producer, and writer. Chen received the award from prolific producer Terence Chang and celebrity photographer Russel Wong at the ceremony.
Celebrating Progressive Development And Diversity In Asian Cinema
SGIFF awarded the Inspiring Woman in Film Award to celebrated Chinese actress, Luna Kwok. The award presented in partnership with Swarovski honours outstanding women in film; in line with the brand’s longstanding commitment to supporting emerging talent and championing women’s empowerment.
A director-turned-actress, Luna Kwok was recognised for her outstanding performance and for her non-conforming approach in her choice of acting roles, choosing the most challenging roles over merely glamourous ones. Kwok continues to pave a new way for women in film from this end of the world through her dedicated craft in Chinese cinema. She played a leading role in Yeo Siew Hua’s A Land Imagined, which won the Best Film award in this year’s Asian Feature Film Competition at SGIFF. The film premiered at Locarno Film Festival 2018, where it won the Golden Leopard and also for Kwok, the Boccalino d’Oro Prize for Best Actress awarded by the Independent Swiss Critics.
Nurturing A New Generation Of Cinematic Talents
In line with SGIFF’s dedication in nurturing young cinematic talents, the Young Critic Award was presented to Ryan Lim from Nanyang Technological University, in recognition of his originality in writing and contribution to cinematic discussions in the region. Never Been Kissed by Dao Thi Minh Trang was awarded the Most Promising Project of the Southeast Asian Film Lab. The programme is a story development workshop created to guide aspiring filmmakers from Southeast Asia in their first foray into developing a feature-length film. The project is regarded by industry heavyweights as a visionary effort in cultivating a new talent pool in the region’s filmmaking industry, encompassing a good balance of accessibility and complexity.
Established in 1991, the Silver Screen Awards aims to discover and honour the rich filmmaking talents across Asia and Southeast Asia, and further paving way for a thriving Singapore film industry. A pioneering international competition with a specific Asian film category, the Silver Screen Awards is instrumental in charting the rise of Asian Cinema and the recognition of both established and aspiring Asian filmmaking talents.
“It has been a heartening experience to see SGIFF quickly establishing itself as the epicentre where some of the most talented independent filmmakers and producers from Southeast Asia congregate to share creative ideas and to continue inspiring each other. The Silver Screen Awards will continue to cement its position as an inspiring space for the industry to explore and recognise a stellar body of cinematic works emerging from across the region; and at the same time continue on our commitment to nurture and champion next-generation filmmaking talents, celebrating their bold artistry and storytelling”, says Yuni Hadi, Executive Director, SGIFF.
“I would like to congratulate all award winners for your inspiring contributions to Asian Cinema. We look forward to uncovering more gems and stories from Asia, and an even greater concerted effort from the industry to propel Asian Cinema onto the world screen,” adds Hadi.
As the leading international film platform in the region, the 29th SGIFF showcases a diverse selection of coveted films from Asia and beyond; demonstrating the ascending future of Asian cinema, with SGIFF continuing to lead the charge for Asian filmmakers emerging onto the global stage.
SGIFF is an event of the Singapore Media Festival (SMF), hosted by Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA). SGIFF 2018’s Official Sponsors include Official Red Carpet Venue Capitol Theatre; Official Hotels Fairmont Singapore and Swissôtel The Stamford Singapore; Official Automobile BMW; and Official Airline Singapore Airlines.
For more information, please visit www.sgiff.com.
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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/
Asian Feature Film Category (亚洲长片)
Best Film (最佳亚洲 剧情片)
A Land Imagined (幻土) by Yeo Siew Hua (杨修华)
Amidst a Lynchian vision of Singapore’s metropolis, worn-out police investigator Lok sets out to solve the mystery behind the disappearance of a migrant Chinese construction worker from a land reclamation site. As Lok’s insomnia sets in, the truth he seeks begins to seep out from the reclaimed sand. The story then turns on itself to follow Wang, a lonely Chinese construction worker living in fear of being repatriated after a work site accident. He finds kinship in two others: his Bangladeshi colleague Ajit, and the aloof supervisor of a dreamscape cybercafé he frequents during his own sleepless nights. When Ajit needs help, Wang enacts a doomed scheme that throws him headlong into the path of inspector Lok’s investigation.
Unanimous in selection, we are proud to present this award to a Singaporean film that combined clear and original vision, strong storytelling, and technical achievement in addressing an increasingly important issue not only to Singapore but to the world.
Best Director (最佳导演)
Pham Thu Hang (The Future Cries Beneath Our Soil)
One would normally not expect this award to go to a documentary director, but we believe that this film is exceptional in its vision and it welcomes us into a world so intimately. We appreciate the fact that it blurs the lines between genres and challenges the language of cinema.
Best Performance (最佳表演奖)
Manoranjoan Das (Bulbul Can Sing)
We present this award to Manoranjoan Das for the courage and vulnerability he infused into his character. Suman was brought to life with a subtlety and an innocence that moved the entire jury.
Special Mention (特别表扬)
Dayan by Behrouz Nooranipour
The winner of this category, Dayan, immerses us into the horrors of one of most significant humanitarian crises in the world today. Under unusually arduous circumstances, Behrouz Nooranipour takes us on a journey of courage and authenticity.
Southeast Asian Short Film Category (东南亚短片)
Best Southeast Asian Short Film (最佳东南亚短片)
A Million Years by Danech San
A young woman relaxes at a riverfront restaurant with a friend. Then she enters a parallel riverfront with a stranger, and they both recount stories of fear.
The best Southeast Asian short film goes to a first-time director who in a formalistic style of directing, deftly touches upon several deep questions of contemporary reality, bound together by an elegant cinematic signature.
Best Singapore Short Film (最佳新加坡短片)
Luzon (海中网) by Chiang Wei Liang (曾威量)
Somewhere in the South China Sea, a Chinese nuclear waste barrel draws a Taiwanese fisherman and his Filipino counterpart into a maritime conflict.
A flawlessly directed tale of 2 fishermen, 1 radioactive barrel and the South China Sea. Luzon is a simple allegory that absurdly and succinctly highlights the socio- political tensions of the region.
Special Mention (特别表扬奖)
With History In A Room Filled With People With Funny Names 4 by Korakrit Arunanondchai
An essayistic approach by fine artist Korakrit Arunanondchai that playfully tackles memory and loss with poetry, humour and intellectual rigour.
Best Director (最佳导演奖)
Aditya Ahmad (Kado [A Gift])
A sincere, deeply-felt film that doesn’t provide easy answers but reveals the complexities of gender identity in Muslim communities.
Youth Jury Prize (青年评审奖)
Kado (A Gift) by Aditya Ahmad
Isfi wants to prepare a special gift for Nita’s birthday, but to be accepted at Nita’s house, she has to wear the hijab.
Kado (A Gift) by Aditya Ahmad is a portrait of a child caught at the crossroads of adolescence. Poignantly moving, the film offers a raw and unflinching look into a painful coming-of-age search for identity. Kado’s quiet depth is its voice, fragility its strength, and resilience its spark of hope for all of us in time to come.
Honorary Award (荣誉成就奖)
Rithy Panh is one of the most internationally acclaimed Cambodian filmmakers of today. A survivor of the Khmer Rouge genocides in the 1970s, Panh went on to create a unique body of work. He reflects on modern Cambodia and the traumatic legacy of the Khmer Rouge regime through films such as Rice People (1994), the harrowing S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine (2003), and winner of Cannes’s Un Certain Regard prize and Cambodia’s first film to be nominated for an Academy Award, The Missing Picture (2013).
Panh graduated from the Institut des Hautes Etudes Cinematographiques (IDHEC) in France. His earliest documentary, Site II, about a family of Cambodian refugees on the Thai- Cambodian border in the 1980s, cemented his personal approach to filmmaking. He has made more than 20 films since The Missing Picture, including documentaries and fiction works. Beyond his filmmaking efforts, Panh co-founded the Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center in 2006 to preserve Cambodia’s audiovisual heritage and train young Cambodian filmmakers, archivists, and technicians.
Cinema Legend Award (电影传奇人物奖)
Joan Chen (陈冲)
Joan Chen is one of cinema’s most respected Asian stars, having appeared in more than 40 film and television roles that straddle both the commercial and independent arenas. As Chen’s alluring screen presence continues to dazzle critics and audiences worldwide, she has also developed a career behind the camera as a director, producer, and writer.
Chinese-American Chen first gained recognition for the film Little Flower (1979); and achieved international acclaim for her ground- breaking performance in the Academy Award-winning film The Last Emperor (1987). She is also known for her roles in Twin Peaks (1990), Saving Face (2004), and The Home Song Stories (2009).
Chen moved into directing with Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl (1998), which went on to win Best Film, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay at the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival and Awards. Her most recent directing effort, English, is slated for release in 2019.
Inspiring Woman in Film Award (最具启发性女电影人奖)
Luna Kwok (郭月)
Luna Kwok stands out as one of the most talented Chinese actresses today. Having studied directing from the National Academy of Chinese Theater Arts, she directed her own films earlier on in her career. She then turned to acting for screen and amazed audiences internationally making her appearance in such celebrated films as Kaili Blues (2015) by Gan Bi that won the Silver Leopard at the 68th Locarno Film Festival, From Where We’ve Fallen (2017) by Feifei Wang, which premiered at the 65th San Sebastian International Film Festival, and most recently, A Land Imagined (2018) by Siew Hua Yeo that won the Golden Leopard at the 71st Locarno Film Festival and was also honoured Best Actress, by the Independent Swiss Critics, commending her luminous portrayal that shed light in a world of darkness.
As an actress that does not conform to traditional sense of oriental beauty, Luna defines herself in every way her own. This can be seen in her choice of taking on the most challenging roles instead of the merely glamourous ones or the pretty showcase. Rejecting the outmoded conventions of what an actress ought to be, Luna marks the arrival of a new face in Chinese cinema – one that is fiercely on her own terms, paving a new way for women in film from this end of the world.
The Most Promising Project of the Southeast Asian Film Lab (最具潜力项目，东南 亚电影编剧工作坊)
Never Been Kissed
by Dao Thi Minh Trang (Vietnam)
This project is a feminine self-discovery journey with a touch of humour, of two friends in their late 20s. One looking for their first kiss, the other making their first film, under the fast changes of society from a long period of feudeulism and communism and now with huge westernization influences.
Youth Critic Award (青少年影评人奖)
Nanyang Technological University
Ryan Lim is an exceptionally talented young film critic. In his writing, he offers original insights into not only the story and the reality a film seeks to represent, but also how such a story is told and how such a reality comes into being by means of film language. His attention to narrative details, character intricacies, and audio and visual nuances enables his reader to understand how the image, the filmic text, and the spectator’s body all interact together to constitute a cinematic experience. And he manages to do so with an accessible language that does not compromise the sophistication of his ideas and his unique personal sensibility.
Asian Feature Film Category
Yeo Siew Hua
Thank you so much for this award, SGIFF. I have always been just an audience to this Festival, and now, finally, having my film here and getting this award, is really just a special moment for me and the film. I would like to thank my producer, and the whole of Singapore cinema. Thank you to the co-producers, who also brought together all the resources that we need to make this film work. Also very importantly, all my crew and cast, for creating some of the most beautiful images that I can imagine, and putting it onto screen for one purpose. This film is a label of everyone putting their efforts together, this is not just me, but how a film should be, a collaboration of everyone putting their heart and soul to it. As we have been travelling with this film for the last few months, now, I can finally be home, and bring this film where it was meant to be seen. Lastly, I would like to thank my family, the most important people loving and supporting me.
Pham Thu Hang
This award is not for me, but for the people who I featured in my film and the people in the village whom I met for the first time. To these people, thank you so much for this encounter. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to introduce my film at the Singapore International Film Festival, and thank you to my family, and my mom, who is here today, who has been so supportive of me.
Thank you so much Singapore International Film Festival and all the members, thank you for being with us today.
Southeast Asian Short Film Category
Best Southeast Asian Short Film
Thank you everyone, it is my honour to be here, and it is my first time in Singapore. It still feels surreal as this is my first film. I want to say thank you to my producer, my friends, my family, and the supporters. Even though I have been working in the film industry, writing films can bring me to a place that I don’t know and making films can be a way to express my perspectives and opinions freely and creatively. I really thank the film committee and the Singapore International Film Festival.
Best Singapore Short Film
Chang Wei Liang
Thank you to the Jury for presenting us this award as well as the Festival for fighting so hard for the film to be screened here. Most importantly, I would like to thank my casting crew from Taiwan and the Philippines. As a Southeast Asian filmmaker, I felt that we had to try something new, to make stories that are actually unique to Southeast Asia. With freedom and the space for expression, my film was able to align with the Southeast Asian Short Film Category format. We need to do that more because there is so much out there that needs our attention and needs to be said. When you let content and ideas flourish, that is where the magic comes in
Thank you Singapore International Film Festival for this award. Four years ago, I got this award for my previous Short Film, and now, I am back again. Thank you very much.
Youth Jury Prize
What an honour to be back here again, and at this award. I want to say thanks to my two producers, my manager, and cast, who supported me and made this film happen. Thank you for showing me how to become human, and to be human, is a gift to others. I’ve learnt a lot making this film, thank you so much.
Thank you very much for this award. I came to Singapore many years ago and I can’t emphasize on the importance of this place and this Festival. I am so happy to receive this award because when I look at the young filmmakers, I see the capability of expressing our feelings and sentiment, so thank you very much.
Thank you Singapore International Film Festival for honouring me with this award, and at long last, I can tell my daughters I am no longer just a legend in my own mind. Of course, I’m kidding, I am not a legend and I don’t feel like one. I am still learning the art of filmmaking and deciphering its message to me. At the age of 14, cinema planned me and gave me the opportunity to tell stories. Stories of myriads of characters, who I later discovered, were just versions of myself. Everyone has a narrative and we are all Scheherazade in the Arabian Nights, weaving and spinning one thousand and one tales to become whole, to stall time, and to stay alive. Looking back, I can’t believe my luck. I am this very shy and introverted person who fell into this wonderful form of self-expression, like a bear falling into a honey jar. Cinema is the honey that has preserved me at various stage of reckless, it is the balm that has rescued me time and again, and it is a gift from destiny, that has restored shape, order and meaning to my otherwise, chaotic life. I can’t believe I am actually getting an award for having received such a gift so thank you again, and goodnight.
Inspiring Woman in Film Award
Thank you Swarovski for this award. I’m really happy and I want to thank the character that has been given to me in A Land Imagined. I often feel like a little girl but by receiving this award, I hope I can mature and fully carry the meaning of this award. I also want to sincerely thank the people that made the film possible. I am very grateful for my mom, my agent, and everyone that has grown up with me and seeing me through everything. Do come see the film early next year in February or March.
The Most Promising Project of the Southeast Asian Film Lab
Dao Thi Minh Trang
This is really a surprise for me because this is a documentary film. Thank you very much for the mental support. We all have very interesting stories and I am a lucky woman who had the chance to express them.
Youth Critic Award
I’m really speechless but if I have the chance to speak on behalf of the Youth Jury & Critics Programme this year, we had the privilege to meet so many people who had done so many great things. Thank you.
Southeast Asian Film Lab Most Promising Project
Cash Prize of $5,000 by Purin Pictures
Youth Jury & Critics Programme Young Critic Award
Cash Prize of $500 by Peanut Pictures
Films In Competition
Southeast Asian Short Film Awards
Best Singapore Short Film
- Trophy and Cash Prize of $4,000 by Filmgarde Cineplex
- Sound Stage (1 day) and Offline Edit (3 days) Package worth S$10,000 at Infinite Studios
- Production Services Package worth $15,000 at Shooting Gallery Asia
- Online, Audio Post and DCP Package, Audio Final Mix and DCP Feature worth $10,500 at Mocha Chai Laboratories
Trophy and Cash Prize of $1,000 by Chuan Pictures
Youth Jury Prize
Trophy and Cash Prize of $500 by Restaurant Labyrinth
Trophy and Cash Prize of $2,000 by Peanut Pictures
Best Southeast Asian Short Film
Trophy and Cash Prize of $5,000 by Filmgarde Cineplex
Asian Feature Film Awards
Trophy and Cash Prize of $1,500
Trophy and Cash Prize of $2,000 by Mr.Des Tan
Trophy and Cash Prize of $5,000
- Trophy and Cash Prize of $10,000 by Mr. Des Tan
- Online, Audio Post and DCP Package, Audio Final Mix and DCP Feature worth $45,000 at Mocha Chai Laboratories
Swarovski Inspiring Woman in Film
Cinema Legend Award