Boo Junfeng's Apprentice is Singapore's Oscar entry for foreign film category

Actor Fir Rahman in a still from Boo Junfeng's Apprentice.
Actor Fir Rahman in a still from Boo Junfeng's Apprentice. PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE

SINGAPORE - Homegrown film-maker Boo Junfeng's acclaimed psychological death penalty drama Apprentice has been picked as Singapore's entry to the Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film category.

The film made its world premiere at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in May in the Un Certain Regard section. Hollywood Reporter had hailed the movie and said that it "should help further consolidate Boo's own reputation as one of the region's names to watch".

Boo, 32, is currently attending the Toronto International Film Festival. He says in a statement: "We have been very encouraged by the response to the film in Singapore and around the world, and this news comes as another big boost for us." The film had an eight-week run in theatres in Singapore.

It is his second feature after the coming-of-age drama Sandcastle (2010).

The Oscar selection was made by the Singapore Film Commission, whose director Joachim Ng says the work "explores complex and sensitive themes while preserving an honest insight to the characters' internal conflict and emotions".

The deadline for submission is Oct 3. Nine finalists in the category will be shortlisted on Jan 17, and the final five nominees will be announced on Jan 24. The ceremony will take place on Feb 26.

Previous picks by SFC include the compendium 7 Letters in 2015, Sanif Olek's Sayang Disayang (Lover Is Loved) in 2014 and Anthony Chen's award-winning Ilo Ilo in 2013. None have been nominated by the Academy.

bchan@sph.com.sg