Maid in S'pore film a winner

Maid in S'pore film a winner

ILO ILO (PG13)

Drama/100 minutes

Rating: 4/5

The film's title refers to a province in the Philippines, but its story is quintessentially Singaporean.

Set in 1997, Filipino maid Teresa (Pinoy actress Angeli Bayani) arrives in Singapore to work for the Lims, and lives with the family in their modest Housing Board flat.

Teresa, or Terry for short, shares a room with the Lims' young son, Jiale (child actor Koh Jia Ler). She builds a bond with the mischievous boy, who calls her Auntie Terry.

With some 209,600 foreign maids working here, the story is familiar.

It's no surprise to learn that the tale was inspired by Singaporean director Anthony Chen's own childhood and his bond with his Filipino helper.

In one interview, the 29-year-old Chen said: "I thought of Auntie Terry a lot - it surprised me how a person from the past who has been absent from one's life for so long can suddenly pop back into one's head."

Despite the distinctively local flavour - or perhaps because of it - the movie struck a chord with the judges at this year's Cannes Film Festival and it was awarded the Camera d'Or prize for Best Debut Feature in May.

Chen's skill is evident in the way that he draws the viewer in, with a series of subtle yet poignant scenes.

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