‘Singapore Dreaming’ wins at TIFF2 min readReading Time: 2 minutes
Singapore Dreaming has won the Best Asian/Middle-Eastern Film Award at the 20th Tokyo International Film Festival.
The film by local filmmakers Colin Goh and Woo Yen Yen was competing in a category titled ‘Winds of Asia-Middle East’, which featured new films from all over Asia, including the Middle East and Central Asia. Other films in this category included Exodus, directed by Pang Ho Cheung and starring Simon Yam; Breath by South Korean auteur Kim Ki Duk; The Wall Passer by Taiwan’s Hung Hung; Mad Detective by Hong Kong’s Johnny To; Cut and Paste by Egypt’s Hala Khalil; and A Few Days Later by Iranian superstar Niki Karimi.
Singapore Dreaming is the first Singapore feature to win this prestigious award. The film has previously won two other major awards: the Montblanc New Screenwriters Award at the 54th San Sebastian International Film Festival and the Audience Award for Narrative Feature at the 30th Asian American International Film Festival in New York. It will also be the first Singapore film to get a commercial theatrical release in Taiwan since 2002’s I Not Stupid.
Directors/Screenwriters Woo Yen Yen and Colin Goh were unable to attend the award ceremony in Tokyo as they had to be in Washington DC, where ‘Singapore Dreaming’ is the closing film of the US Asean Film Festival at the Smithsonian Institution.
Receiving the award on Woo and Goh’s behalf was Ms. Thong Leng Yeng, a Monetary Authority of Singapore officer stationed in Tokyo, whose mother Alice Lim Cheng Pheng played the lead role of ‘Ma’ in ‘Singapore Dreaming’. According to Ms. Thong, “The jury said it was an excellent film with familial themes which resonated across borders.”
“The win came as a complete shock,” said Goh. “I learned about it at 5.30 a.m., when the phone rang. I thought, at this hour, it could only be bad news. But it was Alice calling to congratulate us. In my jet lag-addled state, I thought I was dreaming, but it was a dream come true.”
“When we made Singapore Dreaming, we wanted to tell a really Singaporean story, and it’s great to see it has touched overseas audiences as well,” added Woo. “I think this bodes well for all Singaporean filmmakers who want to tell authentic Singapore stories.”
On receiving the news, Singapore Film Commission Director Mr. Man Shu Sum issued a statement saying, “I congratulate the Singapore Dreaming team on achieving this milestone for Singapore film. Their success proves we have talent on par with the world’s best.”