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And the award goes to …

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The thing about attending an awards ceremony for first films and first-time filmmakers of Asian origin, is that you expect not to really have heard of anyone or any of the films, unless maybe you’re from the same country as them. Sure, there’s the occasional actor-turned-filmmaker, like Teresa Mo (nominated for Best Producer for Men Suddenly In Black 2), but by and large you figure this is a chance to see new faces, hear about new films, get the feel of new voices in Asian cinema.

Asian Festival of 1st FilmsAnd so there were films about a bus creaking its way across Chinese mountains, an Indian salaryman who loses his cool one day, finding the right chicken for the mascot of an Indonesian brand of soya sauce, the dying out of single-screen cinemas in India, Vietnamese families separated by war and Israeli families living on the Gaza Strip.

There were films written/directed/produced/made entirely by one person, and there were films made by a crew of 200 and counting. There were films with explosions and gunfights, there were films with outrageous comedy and rapid-fire banter — and there were films with silent interiors and soundless moments.

The films nominated from Singapore were certainly a host of fresh faces: Grace Phan (nominated for Best Documentary for A Hero’s Journey), and from the Becoming Royston team, Nicholas Chee and Terence Teo (nominated for Best Screenplay), Ken Minehan (nominated for Best Cinematographer) and Alvin Neo (nominated for Best Actor).

While the Singapore films ultimately didn’t pick up any awards, it was an eye-opener to see the range and possibility of films being made by first-time Asian filmmakers. And the glee and surprise was unmistakable when overwhelmed award-winners like Roseanne Liang (for Best Directory of a Documentary, Banana in a Nutshell) and Lam Nguyen (for Best Producer, Journey from the Fall) snagged theirs. The glitz, glamour and glossy invitations aside, it was the clearly encouragement to first-time filmmakers that mattered most at the end of the day.

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