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Homegrown movies: More than 100 made-in-Singapore films since the 1990s

Published on Nov 25, 2013 8:35 PM
 


Family drama Ilo Ilo’s glittery win of four trophies at the Golden Horse Awards over the weekend has put Singapore films squarely under the spotlight.

Since 1995, there have been just over 100 homegrown movies.

Eric Khoo’s seminal Mee Pok Man that year – about a noodle seller obsessed with a prostitute – is often regarded as the film which sparked a resurgence of modern Singapore cinema.

Straits Times movie reviewer John Lui names Ilo Ilo as one of his favourites because of its "realism, simplicity, and honesty".

A montage of Singapore-made films. From top, left to right: Ah Boys To Men, Money No Enough, Mee Pok Man, 12 Storeys, 4:30, Ilo Ilo, Be With Me, Sex.Violence.FamilyValues, Singapore GaGa, Homerun, TalkingCock The Movie, The Maid. -- ST FILE PHOTOS

The movie's theme - a family's relationship with its foreign domestic worker - is something that brings up conflicting feelings in Singaporeans, he said.

Fellow ST reviewer Boon Chan, however, gave his vote to Sandcastle (2010) by Boo Junfeng for its poignant storytelling and "nicely naturalistic" acting, while Life! deputy editor Ong Sor Fern likes Singapore GaGa (2006) by Tan Pin Pin for being a kooky, cool "crazy quilt of vignettes united by the common theme of Singapore's soundscapes".

Correspondents from The Straits Times Life! section reveal their favourite Singapore movie.

Boon Chan: My favourite is Sandcastle (2010), by Boo Junfeng. Having honed his craft and voice over a number of well-received short films, his debut feature proved to be both sensitive and assured. This applies to Anthony Chen and Ilo Ilo - as well as fellow Ngee Ann Polytechnic alumnus Boo Junfeng and Sandcastle.

Boo explores personal and national history with a deeply humane touch in this family drama about a young man uncovering his father’s student activist past. The storytelling is poignant and the performances nicely naturalistic.

Poetic and heartfelt, Sandcastle fulfils the promise of his short films and marks the start of a feature film career to watch.

John Lui: I will cheat and name two, both of which came out this year.

1. Sex.Violence.FamilyValues by writer-director Ken Kwek made the news for its racial jokes but the censorship fuss has obscured how interesting a film it is. It is a landmark movie. It is in English (a risky move, commercially), and it tries to reflect how real Singaporeans talk when they talk about sex and race, something which has not been done before. I am glad it got a cinema release this year, after being stuck in censorship limbo for months.

2. Ilo Ilo - by Anthony Chen. A film that stands out for its realism, simplicity, and honesty. Its topic - a family's relationship with its foreign domestic worker - is something that brings up conflicting feelings in Singaporeans (guilt, relief, exasperation, frustration). Chen has found a way to talk about one family's complicated feelings about its maid, and vice versa, in a powerful and eloquent manner.

Ong Sor Fern: My pick is Singapore GaGa (2006), by Tan Pin Pin. Kooky and cool, Singaporean documentary film-maker Tan Pin Pin's film is a crazy quilt of vignettes united by the common theme of Singapore's soundscapes.

As her camera wanders from the high art of Singaporean Margaret Leng-Tan, filmed in a HDB void deck playing John Cage's landmark 4'33'', to the simple singsong ditty of a tissue paper peddler, Pin Pin celebrates both the rare eccentric and the common man of Singapore.

I love how inclusive her film is, how expansive Singapore feels in its clear-eyed vision, and how sneakily subversive the movie is, combining a critical eye with a warm heart. Makes me go all gooey about my homeland.

Here's a complete list of commercially released narrative feature films starting from the 1990s, their directors, and our favourite movies.

2013

Taxi! Taxi!
Kelvin Sng

Ah Boys To Men 2
Jack Neo

Love… And Other Bad Habits
Lee Thean-jeen

Red Numbers
Dom Ow

Ghost Child
Gilbert Chan

Sex.Violence.FamilyValues
Ken Kwek

Judgment Day
Ong Kuo Sin

That Girl In Pinafore
Chai Yee Wei

Ilo Ilo
Anthony Chen

3 Peas In A Pod
Michelle Chong

2012

Dance, Dance, Dragon
Kat Goh

We Not Naughty
Jack Neo

Timeless Love
Dasmond Koh & Lim Koong Hwee

Ghost on Air
Cheng Ding An

Greedy Ghost
Boris Boo

Imperfect
Steve Cheng

My Ghost Partner
Huang Yiliang

My Dog Dou Dou
Ng Say Yong

Ah Boys To Men
Jack Neo

2011

The Ghost Must Be Crazy
Mark Lee, Boris Boo

It's A Great Great World
Kelvin Tong

Homecoming
Lee Thean-jeen

Forever
Wee Li Lin

Perfect Rivals
Han Yew Kwang

The Ultimate Winner
Li Nanxing

Twisted
Chai Yee Wei

Tatsumi
Eric Khoo

23:59
Gilbert Chan

Already Famous
Michelle Cheong

2010

Being Human
Jack Neo

Happy Go Lucky
Harry Yap

Kidnapper
Kelvin Tong

24 Hours of Anger (Gurushetram)
TT Dhavamani

Phua Chu Kang The Movie
Boris Boo

Sandcastle
Boo Junfeng

Haunted Changi
Tony Kern

Love Cuts
Gerald Lee

2009

Love Matters
Jack Neo and Gilbert Chan

Here
Ho Tzu Nyen

Where Got Ghost
Jack Neo

Blood Ties
Chai Yee Wei

The Blue Mansion
Glen Goei

2008

Ah Long Pte Ltd
Jack Neo

The Leap Years
Jean Yeo

Rule No. 1
Kelvin Tong

Money No Enough
Jack Neo

12 Lotus
Royston Tan

Kallang Roar The Movie
Cheng Ding An

My Magic
Eric Khoo

The Days
Boi Kwong

The Carrot Cake Conversations
Michael Wang

2007

Just Follow Law
Jack Neo

Legend Of The Sea
Benjamin Toh

Men In White
Kelvin Tong

Gone Shopping
Wee Li Lin

881
Royston Tan

Becoming Royston
Nicholas Chee

Truth Be Told
Teo Eng Tiong

2006

Zodiac: The Race Begins
Edward Foo

I Not Stupid Too
Jack Neo

Smell of Rain
Gloria Chee

Love Story
Kelvin Tong

Unarmed Combat
Han Yew Kwang

4:30
Royston Tan

S11
Gilbert Chan & Joshua Chiang

The High Cost of Living
Leonard Lai Yok Wai

Singapore Dreaming
Woo Yen Yen & Colin Goh

2005

I Do, I Do
Jack Neo

Avatar
Kuo Jian Hong

Perth
Djinn

The Maid
Kelvin Tong

One More Chance
Jack Neo

Be With Me
Eric Khoo

2004

The Best Bet
Jack Neo

Clouds In My Coffee
Gallen Mei

2003

City Sharks
Esan Sivalingam

Twilight Kitchen
Gerald Lee

Homerun
Jack Neo

15
Royston Tan

2002

I Not Stupid
Jack Neo

TalkingCock The Movie
Colin Goh

2001

The Tree
Daisy Chan

Return To Pontianak
Djinn

A Sharp Pencil
Gallen Mei

One Leg Kicking
Wei Koh & Eric Khoo

2000

Crazy People
Arthero Lin

Stories About Love
CheeK, Nizam & James Toh

Chicken Rice War
CheeK

1999

Lucky Number
Lam Po Ko

Liang Po Po - The Movie
Teng Bee Lian

Where Got Poblem
J. P. Tan

That One Not Enough
Jack Neo

Eating Air
Kelvin Tong & Jasmine Ng

1998

Forever Fever
Glen Goei

Money No Enough
Tay Teck Lock

Tiger's Whip
Victor Khoo

Teenage Textbook
Philip Lim

1997

A Road Less Travelled
Lim Suat Yen

12 Storeys
Eric Khoo

1996

Army Daze
Ong Keng Sen

1995

Mee Pok Man
Eric Khoo

 

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