LIFE POWER LIST 2015

Royston Tan, Driving 7 Letters

3) ROYSTON TAN, 39, film-maker and executive producer of 7 Letters

In a year of a bumper crop of Singapore-produced films, one project stood out.

When tickets to the initial screenings of anthology 7 Letters were first released online, they were snapped up within hours.

After additional screenings were arranged for the film weeks later, members of the public formed snaking queues in the hot sun outside the National Museum in the hope of snagging passes.

The high demand for the compendium, which played to unanimous critical acclaim, eventually led to a limited commercial run at theatres.

7 Letters is an anthology of seven stories helmed by seven of Singapore's most prominent directors exploring their personal connections with Singapore: Boo Junfeng, Jack Neo, Eric Khoo, Tan Pin Pin, K. Rajagopal, Kelvin Tong and Royston Tan.

Royston Tan also served as executive producer and was the central driving force of the project.

The film-maker, who topped the entertainment power list in 2007 for his box-office hit 881, still sounds in awe of the overwhelming reception that the new project received.

"7 Letters was the first instance where people had called and e-mailed with such fervour, asking us to arrange more screenings so that they could see it," says the bachelor.

"Some people even said that they had already seen it, but wanted to take their family and friends to watch it again. I guess the film must have touched some people."

Even more touching is the fact that proceeds from the omnibus, which is fully supported by the Singapore Film Commission, will go to seven charities chosen by the directors. To date, about $300,000 has been raised.

7 Letters has also been selected to be Singapore's official entry to the Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film category. Oscar nominations for next year will be announced on Jan 14 and the awards will take place on Feb 28.

Says Tan, who has a younger brother and whose parents are retired coffee-shop stall owners: "The thing about 7 Letters is that it is not a 'National Day Parade', rah-rah type of film.

"It is about the stories of Singaporeans, of people who live here from the 1950s to the present day, and I think people relate to that."


Royston Tan on the overwhelming response to 7 Letters http://str.sg/ZKcv

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 20, 2015, with the headline 'Driving 7 Letters'. Print Edition | Subscribe