A short film about a Malay boy who celebrates Chinese New Year for the first time took home the top prize at the ciNE65 Season IV awards ceremony last Thursday (July 6).
The Red Packet, directed by Sufyan Sam'an, 32, and written by Calvin Soon, 30, won Overall Best Film and Best Direction in the Open Category.
Sufyan is director of The Flying Kick Asia, a local video-production house, and Soon is the creative producer at Mediashock Productions, a corporate video production company.
The inspiration for the film came from Sufyan's real-life experience.
His mother is Chinese, but was adopted by a Malay family when she was little. In 2014, his family met her Chinese family during Chinese New Year.
"My little cousin was confused by the festivities and went up to my great-grandma and told her 'Maaf zahir batin', which is a Hari Raya greeting.
"It was very cute and that was where I got my inspiration for the film from," he explained.
Their team won a cash prize of $3,000, a trip to the Busan International Film Festival and a Panasonic 4K Professional Camcorder.
The biennial local short-film competition honours the best three-minute films made to a set theme. This year's theme explores the idea of nationhood and a sense of belonging with "Home. Truly".
The ceremony was held at The Joyden Hall in Bugis Plus.
There were 103 submissions this year, dealing with a variety of subject matters, though national service (NS) was a recurring theme, says Colonel Joseph Tan, director of Nexus, the Central National Education Office under the Ministry of Defence. He was one of the judges for the competition.
One of the NS-themed films is Ang Ku Kueh, about a recruit who loses hope after visiting an optometrist and discovering that he is colour-blind.
It was directed by Chong Yu Lun and produced by Rachel Toh, both 25 and co-founders of Walk and Roll Studios. It took home the Best Cinematography award.
One of the judges, Mr Jeremy Sing, 32, founder of SINdie.sg, an indie film website, said the submissions had grown "more sophisticated and polished".
"Storylines have also matured as people are now thinking about national issues and the theme on a deeper level," he added.
The Overall Best Film in the Student Category went to #12-99, about an unlikely friendship between a young Chinese immigrant and a Singaporean home owner.
It was directed by Jeth Heng, 25, and produced by Lou Mei Jun, 23, who are both undergraduates at Nanyang Technological University's School of Art, Design and Media.
Their film is about a mainland Chinese man who is about to move into a flat issued to him by his company, but realises that he has been scammed. The woman living in the flat opens her heart and home to him.
The production process was fraught with challenges, the team said. For example, it kept raining during the shoot.
Furthermore, the team members realised that their hard drive was corrupted only after filming.
"We lost a lot of footage and had to improvise and work around that. Our audio recording could not be used because of the rain as well, so we had to redo the entire audio design," said Lou.
Heng said: "We didn't expect to win, but we're delighted and excited about the trip to Busan."
Like the winner in the Open Category, the team also got a $3,000 cash prize, a camera and a trip to the Busan International Film Festival.
•To view the winning videos, go to www.youtube.com/cine65sg