Celebrating India-Singapore ties with a film fest

The Singapore Consulate in Mumbai is commemorating the island nation’s 50th year of independence and the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Singapore and India with a spate of celebratory activities starting with a Film Festival at The Little Theatre, NCPA.

     Singapore Consul General Ajit Singh and a galaxy of invitees graced a curtain raiser to the film festival marking the start of the celebrations lined up, this evening.

This year’s edition of the film festival (April 20-21) will showcase two internationally acclaimed Singapore films: Eric Khoo’s “12 Storeys” and Anthony Chen’s debut feature “ILO ILO” which was a festival favourite in India, both at the 44th edition of IFFI 2013 in Goa and at the Mumbai Film Fest where it won him the Best Director award and Yann Yann Yeo, (who plays a working mom) the Best Actress award. Singapore makes about 10 films a year, mostly slapstick comedies or horror. Significantly Chen’s and Khoo’s films won awards in Cannes and other prestigious festivals in the world.

A touching film about the relationship between a young boy and his Filipino nanny in a Singaporean family coming to terms with economic recession, Ilo Ilo won the Camera d’Or at Cannes. Partly auto-biographical, the film was inspired by Chen’s experience of having a Filipino maid in Singapore and the title Ilo Ilo refers to a province in the Philippines where she came from.

Interestingly, the film resulted in Chen re-uniting with his Filipino nanny after a radio station in the Philippines embarked on a search to find Chen’s inspiration. Needless to say, the film has superlative performances from each of the four leads.

The three adult actors are well-known in the region, while Koh Jia Ler (as the small boy Jiale) is a newcomer. The film was funded by the Singapore Film Commission and the Ngee Ann Polytechnic where Chen graduated from.

Internationally-acclaimed film maker Eric Khoo’s “12 Storeys” depicts a day in a block of residential flats in Singapore with the film exploring the lives of three characters: Ah Gu, a middle-aged man, brings home a pretty young wife from China, but her unrealistic expectations result in frustration and disappointment with life in Singapore. San San who lives alone is suicidal.

Then, a meeting with the daughter of her mother’s former employer, Rachel, triggers an outpouring of pent-up emotions. The third character Meng bullies his younger sister Trixie and little brother Tee. Eric Khoo has been credited with putting Singapore onto the International film map in 1995.

Ronita Torcato

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