Home-grown film-maker Boo Junfeng's drama Apprentice won the Netpac award at the prestigious Golden Horse Awards in Taipei on Wednesday (Nov 23).
Speaking to The Straits Times upon his return to Singapore from Taiwan on Thursday afternoon (Nov 24), Boo, 32, said: "It was a little unfortunate that the film couldn't compete in the main Golden Horse Awards because it didn't fulfil its language criterion, so it is very nice to still be able to come home with an award from Golden Horse."
The Golden Horse main event, which is known as the Mandarin-speaking world's equivalent of the Academy Awards in the United States, will be held on Saturday (Nov 26).
The Netpac, or Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema, award is the only one at the festival that is given out to a non-Chinese language film.
The award promotes Asian cinema and highlights emerging cinematic talents from the region.
Apprentice, which tells the story of a young prisons officer (Firdaus Rahman) learning the ropes of becoming an executioner in Singapore, contains dialogue in Malay and English.
Boo said he was "encouraged" by the comments that the jury gave him about his film in the official citation: "With a tight script and mise-en-scene, the director successfully demonstrated a unique visual style to get inside the character psychology and tackle the issue of death penalty."
The jury members were Macau film and culture critic Lei Chin Pang, Taipei Film Festival programme director Kuo Ming-jung, and Hong Kong film-maker Freddie Wong.
Competing against Apprentice for the award were films such as South Korean thriller The Truth Beneath and Japanese crime drama Twisted Justice.
The Netpac award is the latest accolade in a string for Boo and Apprentice. Last month, he was conferred the Rising Director award at Busan International Film Festival's Asia Star Awards and the film was named Best Film at the Philippines' QCinema International Film Festival's Asian New Wave.
Earlier this month, the cast received a Special Mention (Acting Ensemble) at the Hawaii International Film Festival.
It all started in May for Apprentice, which premiered at Cannes International Film Festival and competed in the Un Certain Regard section.
This article was first published on November 24, 2016. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.