SINGAPORE - Director Anthony Chen's Ilo Ilo might have won critical acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival in May, but he still found it a "nerve-racking" experience showing the film to Singapore audiences.
"I wasn't sure what expectations people might have, as the film is probably different from most of the locally produced films you usually see," the 29-year-old told Life! after the first public screening of his debut feature-length film on Wednesday night for The Straits Times readers at Golden Village VivoCity.
The 200 tickets were given out in a lucky draw as part of The Straits Times Appreciates Readers programme.
Ilo Ilo, which is based on his personal experiences, examines the relationships within a Singaporean family and their Filipino maid, Teresa. It is named after the province in the Philippines that Chen's maid, who left when he was 12, was from.
Set against the backdrop of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the film focuses on the strained ties in the family.
Chen's worries about the reception were unfounded though, judging by the viewers' enthusiastic response to the film and at the 30-minute question-and-answer session after the screening. Temasek Polytechnic student Idris Talib, 20, said: "It is quite an honest film with an innate sadness, even though there are many funny parts. I found myself empathising with the characters and feeling like there isn't a clear-cut answer to everything."
Questions at the Q&A session revolved mostly around the film-making process, such as casting and the challenges faced.
Chen said: "You can usually sense from the post-show atmosphere whether people have connected with the film and I think they did. It felt quite warm and positive."