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Talking Movies

Singapore makes an impact in world cinema

The tiny Asian city-state has a vibrant film culture and a rich cinematic history – and some recent films have found international success. Tom Brook reports.

Singapore is better known for its gleaming skyscrapers, squeaky-clean streets and slick business culture than for its contribution to world cinema. But there are several local filmmakers making an impact at home and abroad with original and highly impressive storytelling.

The most prominent is Anthony Chen, whose film Ilo Ilo won rapturous applause and the coveted Camera d’Or prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and will be Singapore’s official submission for the Oscars.  

Chen’s film is the latest to emerge from a long-established movie industry that emerged in the 1920s and enjoyed a golden age from the ‘50s to the ‘70s, when it went into decline.

But in 1995 Eric Khoo’s film Mee Pok Man, the study of a relationship between a prostitute and a lonely noodle seller, breathed new life into the moribund industry. Khoo has since gone on to develop a new generation of directors including Royston Tan and Boo Junfeng.

Tom Brook talks to some of the leading directors and critics in Singapore’s film scene.

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