Monday, June 10, 2013

Anthony Chen At Cannes

Singapore film director Anthony Chen recently created waves at the recent Cannes film festival with his debut film Ilo Ilo . I had opportunity to pose him several questions to the talented film maker after his  huge success at Cannes. The  interview had appeared in the sun newspaper today ( Tuesday June 11 Page 18) . Please click on the link to read the article

 Now the full article is here : 

Suggested Headline: Life After Cannes 


It is an honour for a filmmaker to receive a 15-minute standing ovation after the screening of his film. This honour is even greater if it takes place at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.
Singaporean Anthony Chen, 29, not only received a standing ovation but his debut film, Ilo Ilo, also fetched him the coveted Camera d’Or prize (best feature film debut) and became the first Singaporean feature film to win a prize at the recent Cannes Film Festival.
Set in Singapore, Ilo Ilo centres on the relationship between a Singaporean Chinese family and its new maid, Teresa. Like many Filipino women, Teresa has come to the Lion City in search of a better life. The young and troublesome son in the family, Jiale, forms a unique bond with Teresa and this friendship ignites jealousy in his mother.
Chen, who is currently based between London and Singapore, talks to theSun after his success at the Cannes Film Festival.

* Did you always want to be a filmmaker?

“I wanted to pursue filmmaking since the age of 15. While everyone
was busy mugging for ‘O’ levels, I was at the library reading up on
film directors and film  schools.I learnt that film schools overseas were expensive and I could not afford them. I also learnt that there was
only one film school in Singapore (Ngee Ann Polytechnic)
and decided that is where I would start building my portfolio.
“Most of my schoolmates pursued their ‘A’ levels but I took the slightly rebellious route of going to film school at the age of 17. I can’t explain why I wanted to be a filmmaker. I would say it is a subconscious decision.
“I remember that the first film I saw on the big screen was Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor and when I was growing up, I was attracted to the early films of Zhang Yi-mou and Ang Lee.”

* Who are the directors you admire?

“I’m interested in filmmakers and cinemas that explore the human
condition in a sensitive, delicate way. I admire greatly the works of
Hou Hsiao-hsien, Edward Yang, Yasujiro Ozu, Hirokazu Koreeda, Lee Chang Dong, Jacques Audiard, Andrea Arnold and Nuri Bilge Ceylan.
“But in terms of my biggest hero, it will have to be Ang Lee. I can’t imagine a better role model for a filmmaker and as a person. His humility and dedication to life and work deserves admiration.”

* You wrote the script for Ilo Ilo. Where did the inspiration come from?

“The movie is very much inspired by my childhood years. When I was young, we had a Filipino maid who was with us for eight years. We called her Auntie Terry. Somehow, in the last few years, she kept surfacing in my memory and I realised that I am literally part of an entire generation of kids
in Singapore that was brought up by foreign helpers. That was the starting point for the film.
“When Auntie Terry returned home for good, it was hard to bear. Eventually, we got used to her absence but somehow lost contact. The one thing that stayed with me after all these years is the name of the place she was from (Iloilo, a province in the Philippines). That is how the title of the film came about.”

* What is the biggest challenge you faced as Singaporean filmmaker?

“Funding. I had to work with a tight budget, especially if the film isn’t a mainstream horror or comedy film, which translates to less resources and less shooting days.
“So, it is literally a lot of blood, sweat and tears in order to not compromise on the vision you have and still retain your ambition.”

* What are your next projects and are you afraid that there will be higher expectations after your win at Cannes Film Festival?

“I am developing a few projects in United Kingdom and Singapore. It will take some time before they mature into something more concrete, so I am keeping a tight lip for now.But I am always interested in human dynamics and the human condition, so whatever I undertake, it is always steering in that direction.
“I do think it is a tall order to follow in the success of Ilo Ilo but I always believe that every film has a life of its own, so all I can do is
work hard and give the dedication and sincerity it needs.”

* Do you have any advice for budding filmmakers?
“Always maintain integrity in your work. It is a tough and rather painful journey, so it is important to have a genuine passion for cinema.You need to ask yourself, “Are you really in love with films or with the idea of being a film director?”

* What are some of the greatest misconceptions people have about you?

“That I’m an arrogant brat who only wantsthings his way. I think very few people really understand me and I no longer see a point in just pleasing everybody for the sake of having  people to like you."


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