Local writer-director Anthony Chen has a lot going for him – ever since winning the prestigious Camera d’Or for his film Ilo Ilo (2013), his star has only continued to rise, with his brand new film Wet Season set to open the 30th Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) on 21st November 2019 at Capitol Theatre. The introspective feature was the sole Asian entry in competition at the 44th Toronto International Film Festival’s Platform competition, and marked the first time a Singaporean film was selected for the section. Wet Season has also received six nominations in this year’s Golden Horse Awards including Best Narrative Feature, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.
Wet Season continues with the contemporary theme of unlikely friendships, burrowing under the skin of a restless, budding Singapore. Set during the monsoon season, the double character study follows the plight of a Malaysia-born Chinese language secondary school teacher, Ling (starring independent film veteran and Best Actress nominee for the 56th Golden Horse Awards, Yeo Yann Yann), and her curious, self-affirming relationship with a student, Wei Lun (starring Koh Jia Ler, who was nominated for Best Newcomer at the 50th Golden Horse Awards for his performance in Ilo Ilo and is a contender for Best Supporting Actor this year).
Ling finds little respect wherever she is. At school, her teaching subject Mandarin is met with contempt and disinterest; at home, her marriage is fraying as she single-handedly bears the burden of conceiving without the support of her often-absent husband. She receives unexpected solace from Wei Lun, who carries a similar loneliness from neglect by his peers and family. Enveloped by their yearning to be understood, their special bond provides relief from their stifling circumstances, blossoming into a forbidden romance in the humid tropics. Driven by the lesser-seen female perspective, the audience is left to ponder on the complexity of the human spirit as they discover the fluidity of societal roles and identity in the shoes of Ling.
Executive Director of SGIFF Yuni Hadi comments: “Over the years, Singapore filmmakers have brought their dreams across the globe, anchored on resonating stories of home, or steadfast tales with Singaporean sensibilities at their core. It is meaningful for us to open the 30th edition with a Singapore film. Anthony Chen’s break-out debut in 2013 was a defining moment in our cinematic history, and we are excited to open the 30th SGIFF with his highly-anticipated sophomore feature that continues to reveal the intricacies of human relationships and connections. SGIFF is committed to being a discovery ground and champion for Singapore film, as we look forward to celebrating and connecting over many more years of inspiring Southeast Asian cinema.”
Wet Season is Anthony Chen’s second directorial feature after the award-winning Ilo Ilo, which was recognised by forty awards internationally, including four Golden Horse Awards at the 50th Golden Horse Awards in Taiwan. He has also directed multiple award-winning short films, including Ah Ma (Grandma) (2007), which was nominated for the Palme d’Or for Short Film at the 60th Cannes Film Festival, and for a Golden Bear (Short Film) at the 58th Berlin International Film Festival.
Sharing more about Wet Season as the opening film of SGIFF, Anthony Chen said: “It makes me so happy to premiere Wet Season to Singapore audiences at SGIFF especially in its milestone 30th edition. The Festival remains at the heart of Singapore and Southeast Asian cinema, and I treasure this opportunity to be sharing my film journey with a community that has encouraged and nurtured me right from the beginning.”
SGIFF 2019 runs from 21st November to 1st December 2019. The full Festival line-up and ticketing details will be announced on 22nd October 2019. For more information on the upcoming 30th edition of SGIFF, visit their website here