Can Ilo Ilo win at Oscars?

Can Ilo Ilo  win at Oscars?

Film-maker Anthony Chen is flying to Los Angeles next week to do what he has been doing many times over this year - host screenings, shake hands, be interrogated at question-and-answer sessions.

But the stakes for the director behind Ilo Ilo, winner of four Golden Horse awards in Taipei last month, are different in Tinseltown.

Instead of wooing film buffs or exhibitors, the 29-year-old will be addressing members of the Academy Awards and Golden Globes voting community.

The drama about a Singaporean family coping with the inclusion of a Filipino domestic worker into their lives is Singapore's official entry to the Best Foreign Language Film section in the Oscar race and the Media Development Authority has confirmed that it will give financial support to Ilo Ilo's campaign.

A typical marketing drive behind a film includes advertisements on billboards and trade magazines - anything that will make the film stand out in a crowded field. Chen's movie will be one of 76 foreign- language films submitted this year - an Oscar record. Five nominees will be selected and announced on Jan 16.

Ask Chen about Ilo Ilo's chances, and he sounds a note of caution.

"No matter what budget we have, it won't compare with the millions that the others will spend. And to be honest, I don't have a sense of how campaigning works," says the writer-director, interviewed by Life! on the sidelines of the Asia TV Forum & Market.

He spoke at the three-day trade event, which ended last Friday.

Granted, his movie's wins at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Camera d'Or for best debut feature, and at the Golden Horse Awards, have lent the movie some buzz. Ilo Ilo took the Best Feature Film, Best Original Screenplay, Best New Director and Best Supporting Actress prizes at Chinese cinema's version of the Oscars.

But he feels the Academy Awards are a different ball game and there are many strong contenders this year. "The field is very open," he says.

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