Recreating Chen's magic

Recreating Chen's magic

For Singapore movies, 2013 was a good year.

Critically, we had Anthony Chen's Ilo Ilo, which helped put our film industry on the global map when it won the prestigious Camera d'Or prize for best first feature film - the first of many awards - at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

The movie that spins a simple yarn about the relationship between a boy and his maid went on to win 26 international accolades, including four Golden Horse Awards (one of which was the top honour of Best Film).

Commercially, there was Ah Boys To Men Part 2. The second instalment of the two-part army-themed series was a massive box-office hit. The movies also turned unknowns such as Tosh Zhang and Wang Weiliang into national sensations.

Can local film-makers raise the bar this year? And will the quality of the upcoming line-up benefit from the "Anthony Chen effect"?

According to a Media Development Authority (MDA) report, 2014 will see 18 Singapore films slated for release locally and regionally.

Kicking off will be Jack Neo's The Lion Men Part 1. The action comedy about two rival lion dance troupes features Ah Boys To Men stars Zhang and Wang.

Opening here on Jan 30, on the eve of Chinese New Year, The Lion Men Part 1 is poised to dominate the Chinese New Year holiday period, much like Neo's earlier movies. The Lion Men Part 2 is scheduled for a March release.

Said Neo, 53: "It has become sort of a tradition for me to release a film during Chinese New Year, as many families told me it's a ritual for them to watch my films either on the first or second day of Chinese New Year.

"Also, this movie is very appropriate for Chinese New Year, as the lion dance is part of Chinese New Year culture. I think moviegoers will receive the movie well."

As for any pressure stemming from Ilo Ilo's success, he joked that his movies are too commercial to win any awards.

"People who watch my movies know my style. They are of high entertainment value. Any awards that come are bonuses. What's important is that people enjoy watching my movies."

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