Ilo Ilo wins award at London film fest

Ilo Ilo wins award at London film fest
Cinema still: Ilo Ilo

SINGAPORE - The accolades keep pouring in for home-grown film-maker Anthony Chen's Ilo Ilo.

Last Saturday, the drama won the Sutherland Award for Best First Feature at the BFI London Film Festival.

It beat 11 other films from around the world, including American film-maker John Krokidas' Kill Your Darlings, a movie about the American Beat writers starring Daniel Radcliffe.

This year's five-member judging panel for the award includes jury head Elizabeth Karlsen, who is co-founder of production company Number 9 films, and award-winning English actor Jim Broadbent.

Karlsen said of Ilo Ilo at the festival: "The startlingly assured direction and screenwriting of the winning film surprised us all. Anthony Chen's Ilo Ilo also chose a domestic canvas, but the imaginative and innovative voice of this film-maker elevated the film technically and narratively, and made us wonder at the fragile nature of family life in this modern Singapore tale."

Chen, 29, says that the win was "completely unexpected". He adds: "My wife and I got a shock at the dinner table when the award was announced. But it is a beautiful surprise. Very honoured to put Singapore and Ilo Ilo on the world map again."

The win is especially surprising for the director given that the film encountered technical audio difficulties at its first screening at the festival the previous weekend and had to be cancelled at the last minute. The film got a replacement screening a few days later.

The technical glitches are reminiscent of the time when Ilo Ilo premiered at Cannes Film Festival in May - it stopped three times due to power outages and also experienced disappearing subtitles. The movie went on to snag the coveted Camera d'Or, which is the prize given to the best debut feature film, and the highest film honour for a Singaporean film-maker to date.

Says Chen in jest: "I think I may have started a trend. Maybe I can afford a few more disasters?"

Immediately after the awards ceremony in London, he left for India to attend the 15th Mumbai International Film Festival, where Ilo Ilo is competing in the International Competition for First Feature Films of Directors section.

Ilo Ilo is showing in cinemas.

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