Short Film Award winner Han Fengyu draws praise

National serviceman Han Fengyu, who won Best Fiction at the Short Film Awards, wants to make a feature film by 2017

Film-maker Han Fengyu did not just win Best Fiction, the top prize, at the 6th Singapore Short Film Awards on Sunday for his work, Last Trip Home.

He also won high praise and a lofty comparison with Singapore's most distinguished film-maker yet, Anthony Chen, whose 2013 feature Ilo Ilo won the Golden Horse Best Film and the Camera d'Or in Cannes for the best debut feature film.

One of the judges, Singapore Film Society vice-chairman David Lee, said: "Han's working methods seem rather similar to Chen's - he has a very clear idea of what he wants and the film's tone, acting and cinematography are very well controlled and consistent."

Last Trip Home is a poignant 26- minute work about the relationship between a father and son, who are both Chinese immigrants.

At The Substation Theatre on Sunday night, Han, 23, won a $5,000 post- production package from Infinite Studios, $1,000 worth of legal services from Samuel Seow Law Corporation and a $500 cash prize given by the same firm.

The graduate of Ngee Ann Polytechnic's film, sound and video course later told Life! he felt he could have exerted less control over the filming. "Perhaps I could have liberated myself and my cameraman more. I probably did not have to insist on doing one shot for one scene, for example," said Han, who is in national service.

He is planning to complete a feature film by 2017. It will be about love among three characters and will explore the idea of committing to a relationship, even when the going gets tough.

Among other winners, Alvin Lee's more than 20-minute-long Hokkien film Bon Voyage, a work about his relationship with his grandmother, bagged the Best Director and Best Sound awards. As Best Director, he received a $5,000 post-production package, $1,000 worth of legal services and a $500 cash prize.

He is studying at the Beijing Film Academy and is in Singapore for his school holidays.

The 24-year-old chose to study in Beijing because he comes from a traditional Chinese family. He added: "I don't regret my choice as the focus and determination of the students there, most of whom are only 18, drive me to work harder. I had to go through six rounds of examinations and was among the 26 students selected from 1,475."

Mr David Lee said of Bon Voyage: "I like how the film took a minimal approach to the soundscape by incorporating everyday sounds such as flowing water when a tap was turned on. The acting was so natural too."

Teo Jun Jie, 27, and Lau Xiang Ying, 24, both film graduates from Nanyang Technological University's School of Art, Design and Media, shared the Best Performance prize for their roles in Passenger, a 20-minute drama about a reunion of two friends who have feelings for each other. They received a trophy.

A Special Jury Prize was presented for the first time in the competition's history to Passenger's director, Tang Kang Sheng, 26, who is a videographer at Splash Productions. He received $500.

The judges decided to give out the Special Jury Prize to encourage more film-makers to take risks. Mr Lee said: "The jury liked that he took certain risks such as using a handheld camera throughout the film. The film remained in our minds for a while after watching it."

The judges included Tan Chui Mui, film-maker and co-founder of Da Huang Pictures; and film-maker-producer Fran Borgia, who was born in Spain and founded the independent production company Akanga Film Asia, which is based here.

All winning films will be screened at indie cinema The Projector this Saturday at 8pm.

An Honorary Award was also given to Yuni Hadi, executive director of the Singapore International Film Festival and director and co-founder of Objectifs, Centre for Photography and Film. It recognised her contributions to Singapore film, such as initiating the Fly By Night video challenge with film- maker Tan Pin Pin.

sarahgyx@sph.com.sg