Interview: Boo Junfeng4 min readReading Time: 4 minutes
The past year has seen numerous Singaporean film exports hitting home with audiences beyond our reclaimed shores. Feature films, such as Eric Khoo’s Be With Me aside, short films have also been creating considerable waves overseas.
Out of pure love and passion for the arts, a group of creative Singaporean diasporas in London have organised the inaugural Singapore Wave, a showcase of a selection of films from some of Singapore’s groundbreaking filmmakers. The event was successfully staged to a sold out audience on the 3 August 2007 at the Candids Art Trust in London. It is one of the many projects of the Singapore Creative Network, a dynamic group helmed by professional artists, and was curated by Boo Junfeng, himself a filmmaker on the rise.
Snitching a bit of his time from the post-production of his latest film, I had the film maker bring us up to speed on this refreshing and heartening phenomenon which resulted in enthusiastic reception of Singapore films overseas.
“David Lee [Creative Coordinator of the Singapore Creative Network UK] originally approached me to showcase mine and Zihan’s [another upcoming filmmaker to watch] films in London. But I thought it would be a better choice to present a collection of films that were truly representative of the Singapore scene,” said Junfeng.
Without doubt, the series looks interesting at first blush, but on closer dissection, you will realise that Junfeng’s claim of it being “quite easy to curate” may not be what it seems. This brilliant young man has intelligently and with a touch of finesse, brought together a diverse range of recently produced short films.
Oiling the pan is the minimalist “Untitled” (by Kan Lume and Loo Zihan); add the narrative “Innocent” (Gek Li San & Ho Choon Hiong), “Un retrato de familia” (Junfeng’s own short) and “Bedroom dancing” by Sun Koh and watch it sizzle; the stylistic “G23” (Anthony Chen) lines the platter of course; and garnish with the musical spices of “Hock Hiap Leong” (Royston Tan) and Asian Girls Vol 2: Memoirs of a Geisha (Brian Gothong Tan) – A truly Singaporean dish to be proud of. The thoughtfully ingenious organisers even arranged for a casual meet-up dinner session prior to the night’s screening to ensure that both body and soul are sufficiently nourished.
I do hope it will become an annual event to look forward to.
With previous experience curating Short Circuit, a private showcase of short films by the gay and lesbian community last year, Junfeng is excited about this event as well, saying: “Even though of rather different styles, each of these films has a deep message to convey. I quite enjoyed curating this event. And what makes it even more meaningful is that these filmmakers are all very close friends. It is a community after all.”
Adamant that filmmaking should be about sharing the already limited resources available, Junfeng explains that as a filmmaker, perhaps the most elevating experience is when you see everyone working together “for the craft and for the work”.
If you’ve watched his previous works, such as “Un retrato de familia” and most recently “Katong Fugue” [screening at the 4th Singapore Short Cuts at the National Museum on the 1st September], you’ll be delighted to know that Junfeng is already working on his 5th short film. Shot over 2 and Ã‚½ days just 2 weekends ago, he candidly told us “The shoot went as well as it could. It could have been better but this was the first time I’m experimenting with a cast made up entirely of non-professional cast and it was exhilarating and challenging at the same time.”
Throughout the interview peppered with many references to Hou Hsiao Hsien, you can’t help but marvel at the conviction this young artist has for the craft. Most passionate when he’s talking about directing, he shares some tips he has learnt over the years, “What I like most about directing is dealing with emotions. It is a collaborative effort between the actors and myself.“
Exuding a rare sort of calm that speaks strongly in his works, Junfeng is nevertheless not resting on his laurels. Albeit the local audiences’ engineered mindset towards locally made films, he is hopeful and confident that the response can only get better. Perhaps the day when outcries of “Mediacorp ah? Jack Neo?” every time a film crew is spotted, will no longer be.
In discussion about creating content-rich films instead of just visual art pieces, he concurs, “Filmmaking is a lot about experience. If you have never experienced heartache, then how can you convey that to your actors?” Indeed, all of Junfeng’s films are very personal works and he confesses that he is constantly working towards stepping out of his comfort zone. Remarkably mature at his tender 23years, we eagerly look forward to the release of his next short film.
A promising artist with a grand new future before him, Junfeng is hitting the books at the La-Salle-SIA Puttman School of Film, launched just barely 2 years ago. An alumnus of the established Film, Sound and Video course at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Junfeng confides that he is looking forward to ‘having a main anchor in my life again, then I can work my filmmaking and other projects around it.’