Son directs veteran actor in feature which wins two youth film awards

Actor Zhu Houren stars in Han, directed by his son Jonathan Choo. The film won the Best Direction and DBS Best Picture awards.
Actor Zhu Houren stars in Han, directed by his son Jonathan Choo. The film won the Best Direction and DBS Best Picture awards.PHOTO: NATIONAL YOUTH FILM AWARDS

Veteran actor Zhu Houren had several reasons to be happy at the second National Youth Film Awards Ceremony held yesterday.

Not only did he star in Han, which won two awards, it was directed by his 27-year-old son, Jonathan Choo.

The film took the Best Direction Award and the DBS Best Picture Award for its producer, Ms Shammini Gunasegaran, 23. Both director and producer are fresh graduates from the Nanyang Technological University's (NTU) School of Art, Design & Media, specialising in digital film-making.

Han is about a man who goes to South Korea to meet the parents of a girl whom his son killed in a car accident in Singapore.

Mr Choo said the film title refers to unresolved grief and an inexplicable sadness that generations of Koreans share. "Though it is a modern country moving forward, there is a sadness that is permanent. For me, these characteristics of Korea as a backdrop were important for the characters in the film."

Funding the $40,000 project was difficult and Ms Gunasegaran said: "Looking back, I'm still unable to fathom how we pulled it off. It was sheer madness and that's the beauty of film-making, I guess. It makes you feel most alive."

The Best Performance Award went to Ms Fiona Lim, 19, for her role in Don't Die Without Me, a story about two friends who plan to kill themselves. "The biggest challenge was trying to understand the emotional turmoil of my character and fully emoting that," said the theatre graduate from the School of The Arts Singapore.

Another big winner was You Ci Ke, an animation about a servant trying to warn his emperor about an assassin. The film by four students of digital animation from NTU swept all three animation- related awards.

A total of 20 awards were given out. Winners took home trophies, up to $2,000 per award and other prizes. Organised by *SCAPE and Sinema Media, the annual initiative celebrates emerging talent for technical film crafts and aims to establish a benchmark for excellence.

A record number of 260 films were submitted this year. They were judged by a 15-member jury, which included writer-director Lee Thean-jeen and film-maker and actor Jack Neo.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 24, 2016, with the headline 'Son directs veteran actor in feature which wins two youth film awards'. Print Edition | Subscribe