Royston Tan wins for Bunga Sayang

Royston Tan.

Film-maker Royston Tan's Bunga Sayang, which is part of the award-winning film anthology 7 Letters (2015), won the Best Asian Short Film prize at the Sapporo International Short Film Festival last Saturday night.

Bunga Sayang, about a young Chinese boy who strikes up a friendship with an old Malay neighbour, is the first Singaporean film to win the Best Asian Short Film award at the 11-year-old festival.

A total of 3,548 films were submitted and 85 of them were shortlisted for the nomination.

Tan, 40, says in a statement: "Winning the award felt like a full circle."

He had spent two months in Sapporo writing his second feature 4:30 in 2005 and the short film Monkeylove in 2006.

The festival jury said: "The power of Tan's work is his ability to conjure up slices of Singaporean spirit that reveal both the nostalgia past and the current cultural climate of this island nation. In a microcosm of seemingly everyday life, he displays a distillation of the complexities of multi-racial existence.

"He points the magnifying glass on Singaporean identity across generations and race and translates it well on the big screen. This is a work that communicates and connects with the audience nationally, across Asia and out in the world."

Asked how it felt to win an award for his work independent of the film omnibus, Tan, whose films include the youth drama 15 (2003) and the getai comedy drama 881 (2007), tells The Straits Times: "The seven shorts were all personal heartfelt letters from the directors to Singapore. And as we are all inter-connected in Bunga Sayang as well as 7 Letters, I would like to share this award with my comrades."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 18, 2016, with the headline 'Royston Tan wins for Bunga Sayang'. Print Edition | Subscribe