Monday 25 November 2013

Ilo Ilo takes home big prize at awards

Director Anthony Chen's film wins Best Feature Film and three other awards
By Yip Wai Yee, The Sunday Times, 24 Nov 2013

Singaporean director Anthony Chen had wanted to give up writing screenplays after a tough two years writing the script for his debut feature, Ilo Ilo.

Last night, the work was named Best Feature Film, the biggest award of the night at the Golden Horse Awards in Taipei, over the works of acclaimed directors such as Wong Kar Wai, Tsai Ming-liang, Johnnie To and Jia Zhangke.

Ilo Ilo won a total of four prizes at the prestigious awards, including Best New Director and Best Original Screenplay for him, and Best Supporting Actress for Yeo Yann Yann.

It was also nominated in two other categories: Best Supporting Actor for Chen Tianwen and Best New Performer for child actor Koh Jia Ler.

Both Anthony Chen, 29, and Yeo, 36, choked back tears as they accepted their trophies on stage.

Thanking his Ilo Ilo cast and producers, as well as Taiwanese filmmakers Lee Ang, Hou Hsiao-hsien and the late Edward Yang for being his sources of inspiration, Chen ended his Best New Director win speech with a note for his wife Rachel Yang, 31. "I spent three years making this film, and for three years, she was neglected. I'm sorry. I love you," he said.

While he had been widely expected to win Best New Director, his accolades for Best Feature Film and Best Original Screenplay were surprises.

Accepting his screenplay prize last night, he said: "Whoever said writing a screenplay is easy - they're lying. Writing Ilo Ilo was really tough and took me almost two years to write.

"I almost wanted to give up on writing for my next movie and just focus on directing, but thank you, Golden Horse, for giving me the recognition and encouragement for my screenplay. Maybe I will pick up the pen again and write another screenplay."

Yeo was the first winner of the night for Ilo Ilo. Pointing to her award in her hand, Yeo exclaimed on stage: "This is real. To be able to come and participate in the Golden Horse Awards is a fantasy journey for me, and I really want to thank director Anthony Chen, and the rest of the Ilo Ilo family."

On the phone, she told The Sunday Times: "I feel like I'm in a dream. It's so unreal right now. I'm just very excited and I'm speechless."

In her category, she had been considered a frontrunner.

Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong sent his congratulations on his Facebook page:

"Anthony has truly made a Singapore movie with universal appeal. Congrats to him, Yann Yann and the entire cast and crew of Ilo Ilo!"

It was not just tears and excitement for the Singapore contingent, though. Anthony Chen provided some laughter for the event.

He celebrated prematurely during the announcement for Best New Director. Award co-presenter and veteran actor Ti Lung had first read out Chen's name with the intention of going through the nominee list again. When he finally collected his award, Chen quipped: "That was so embarrassing."

The glitzy ceremony, held at the National Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall in Taipei, is dubbed the Oscars of Chinese-language cinema.

Chen is the third Singaporean to win Golden Horse awards following composer Ricky Ho, who won for Best Original Score in 2011, and actress Megan Zheng, who was Best New Performer in 2003.

Last night, Ho was up for the same award for documentary feature Beyond Beauty, Taiwan From Above, but lost to Lim Giong for A Touch Of Sin.

Ilo Ilo's four Golden Horse wins bring its total international awards haul to 20. Other than the Camera d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, the drama has also won awards at film festivals around the world, including in London and Hong Kong.

Ilo Ilo is also Singapore's submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards next year. The Oscars shortlist will be announced in January.

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