From domestic violence to homosexuality, films tackling social issues took home top prizes at the third annual National Youth Film Awards held at *Scape last Saturday.
A total of 23 awards were presented to emerging youth film-makers - mostly students, aged 18 to 25, from tertiary institutions. Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu was the guest of honour.
The awards received more than 260 submissions from 13 institutes of higher learning this year and winners were selected by a 20-member jury panel that included industry players such as directors Lee Thean Jeen and Daniel Yam and producer Gary Goh.
The top prize of Best Picture was awarded to director Shoki Lin, 23, for his film Changi, about an immigrant mother and son attempting to reconcile their conflicting ideas of home while running away from domestic abuse.
Its lead actress, Ms Carey Ou, 33, won the award for Best Performance. Mr Lin is pursuing his bachelor of fine arts in digital film-making at Nanyang Technological University and the eight-minute film was shot in a single day last year as one of his school projects.
"I'm very surprised," said Mr Lin of his win. "I never expected this film to receive this award. It is humbling and I'm grateful."
He credits the strength of the actors - Ms Ou, a Singaporean who was born in China, and her real-life son, Leon Wen Lizong, six - for much of the film's success.
"I was fortunate. The chemistry that you see on screen wasn't forced and the story and theme of leaving home resonated with them," he said.
Paper Roof, about two girls who run away from their troubled home and build a cardboard house for themselves, and Buang Bayi - Behind The Baby Hatch, a documentary about baby hatches in Malaysia where unwed mothers can safely leave their babies, were also big winners, leading with three awards each.
This was also the first year that the awards accepted short films by non-media-trained students.
Prizes included up to $4,000 cash, a digital cinema camera worth more than $8,000, animation courses and complimentary use of a Hyundai Sante Fe sport utility vehicle.
Of this year's winners, awards director Nicholas Chee said: "What is important to us is the quality of the films we have received, which contribute to the national benchmark for film education and talent development among youth in Singapore. We have seen a greater number of participating institutions this year, with first-time film entries from students from Hwa Chong Institution and Curtin Singapore.
"The entries this year point to a young generation of local emerging film-makers who proudly wear their hearts on their sleeves and are able to translate prevalent issues that they are facing in society today into quality films that resonate with a local and even international audience."