First Man

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We think of the first man on the moon as a fairly distant history, and we may also think of this Chazelle Gosling collaboration as possibly a dry scientific docu-like drama. I have never seen a movie that captures space flight with a degree of authenticity like First Man. It leaves the ground and soars into space with terror, beauty, unpredictability and majesty. So there is nothing dry about this movie. It makes this ‘one small step for man, one giant step for mankind’ less history and more real life, about real people, real sacrifices, real hopes and real fears.

In this time and age, seeing the cramped interiors of NASA rattling rockets with analog dials and archaic-looking control panels, it seems incredible that the Apollo missions succeeded at all. Using the latest in filmmaking today to portray a dated look and feel, Chazelle captures with eerie adrenaline and dread just how dangerous these death-defying missions were. That these harrowing and exhilarating flights into space were undertaken by human beings. At a time when pioneering astronauts were almost guinea pigs to rocket scientists.

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The Best Is Yet To Be…

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My horoscope said I would be inspired today. Early evening, I started my two sets of stair climbing. The day seemed to be coming to an end. What inspiration? After climbing my first twenty-four flights of stairs, I took the lift down, breathing heavily, starting to perspire. Half way down, the lift doors opened and this senior couple walked in, holding hands. I have met them, have exchanged pleasantries. They are probably in their seventies. I forced a smile between heavy breathing. The husband looked at me and asked, “Oh you are taking the lift, not climbing the stairs?” I told him I just did and was going down to climb my second set. “Oh, yes!” he seemed to understand. “Do you know some people are talking about you? They don’t understand. Some of them can’t even climb three flights of stairs. They are not sure it is good for you. Especially your knees.” My breathing slowed a little and I managed a response, “And what do you think?” The lift doors opened and we were on the ground floor. They walked slowly out, holding hands. “I walk with difficulty now,” he started. “Do you believe I used to run marathons? I used to represent our country in athletics. When I was younger, climbing stairs was nothing. The training I went through was a lot more than young people are allowed to do today. I say, keep climbing the stairs. Good for you…” At this point, the wife laughed. The husband continued, “When I ran the marathon, my then girlfriend who is now my wife cheered me on. We do different things at different stages of our lives. I am in my eighties now. She will be eighty soon. I am lucky. When you are my age, I hope you will have someone to hold your hand. Not to climb stairs. Just walk with you. As far as you can walk each day…” He was smiling when he was walking away, not looking back. They never stopped holding hands. And they never stopped walking. Getting ready to climb my second set of stairs, I suddenly felt lighter. I knew I would climb faster. Yes, I am inspired. Come grow old with me. The best is yet to be…

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Crazy Rich Asians

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So much has been written and said about Crazy Rich Asians, I wondered if I should weigh in. Until now. A friend shot three questions in one breath, “Is it just hype? Really, is it any good? Did you actually enjoy the film?” Someone in the arts with opinions said to me, “I hear it doesn’t represent Singapore accurately at all. It is sad, such a high profile film. And why do we need Hollywood to validate us as an industry?”

Everything good you have read and heard about CRA, well, they are all true. It is also true that when a film generates so much positive coverage and buzz, a backlash will follow. So let me just say…

If you have watched, or are going to watch, if you partake in any conversation of CRA, you are a part of, the people behind it call it a movement, I will say, a part of something bigger. In time to come, when memories fade into sepia, you will look back at this release of CRA as a milestone, a significant chapter in Asian Cinema. This will be especially true for Singaporeans. Because for the first time, a Hollywood blockbuster based on a story in Singapore with an all Asian cast, will change how films are made in big markets. It happened with the African Americans, now it is our turn.

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Getting Singaporeans To Take Pride In Homegrown Films

7 June 2018 |  Daniel Yun  |  Today

Director Anthony Chen (far left) and the cast of Ilo Ilo at the 2013 Golden Horse Awards. In a country where Hollywood titles dominate, Singapore films are shut out because they do not have the funds to compete for visibility and share of voice, says the author.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Singapore Film Commission (SFC), whose role is to support and promote Singapore film through funding, training and public education.

It would appear that SFC, now a division under the Info-communications Media Development Authority, has many notable achievements to celebrate.

This perhaps is a time to take a step back and look at the relationship between Singaporeans and Singapore films.

With the international success of Ilo Ilo, winning the Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and the best feature film at the 50th Golden Horse Awards, followed by more global accolades for Apprentice, Yellow Bird and Pop Aye, we can safely say Singapore independent filmmaking has come of age.

Yet do these achievements mean anything to Singaporeans? Continue reading

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Singapore’s Film Industry Has Come A Long Way In 20 Years

31 May 2018 |  Daniel Yun  |  Today

SFC advisory committee chairman Jennie Chua (second from left) and SFC director Joachim Ng (far right) are seen here at the 20th anniversary celebrations of SFC with the trio who kickstarted the idea of setting up a film commission - Mr James Toh (far left), Mr Eric Khoo and Ms Lucilla Teoh.

The Singapore Film Commission (SFC) celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. It is opportune, at this point, to take a look at how far the Singapore film industry has come and the role the SFC played in its development in the last two decades.  

It was filmmaker Eric Khoo, along with producer James Toh and artist Lucilla Teoh, who after extensive research, came up with what would be the white paper that helped create the SFC.

On March 16, 1998, the then Minister for Information and the Arts George Yeo announced in Parliament the formation of the film commission.

Its role is to “nurture, support and promote Singapore talent in filmmaking, the production of Singapore films and a film industry in Singapore” through funding, training and public education.

To date, the SFC, now a division under the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA), has supported a total of 68 movies.

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